Over the past few years, dozens of Hawai'i prep football players have left the comforts of home for Corvallis, Ore., and the Oregon State Beavers.
"I think it's because of the Pac-10, the conference we are in," said sophomore safety Suaesi Tuimaunei, a 2006 Kahuku graduate. "And a lot of my friends were already on the team. It makes things easier, because there are a lot of people and it makes it feel like home."
He also liked his coaches, calling them "nice, down-to-earth guys."
Redshirt freshman cornerback Brandon Hardin (Kamehameha 2007) said it was the contrast from his Honolulu home that drew him there.
"For me, ironically, it was the change," said Hardin, who starts on special teams. "It's totally different from home. For some it may be a turnoff, but for me it was somewhat of an attraction.
"It was a sad choice for me to leave home, but I feel it turned out for the best."
The Beavers with 16 players from Hawai'i on their roster — open their home season hosting the University of Hawai'i this Saturday.
The game is available live at 10 a.m. Hawai'i time, via pay-per-view on Oceanic digital channel 255 via Fox Sports Net.
"I miss Hawai'i, but the people here are nice," Tuimaunei said. "It's a pretty good place to live. It's cheap — no tax. but I definitely want to go home after (I graduate)."
Oregon State is 0-2 with losses to Stanford, 36-28, and Penn State, 45-14.
"I'm just excited to play at home; we don't have to travel across the country to play," Tuimaunei said. Secondary to that is the chance to play his home state's team.
"All my family is coming up to watch the game," he said.
His mom Cindy Betham and five younger siblings will watch him play college football for the first time.
"They are coming up because it's the UH game, and they get to watch both of us," he said. "It makes me want to play better."