True freshman named Pac-10 special teams player of the week
Courtesy Luke Adams
Wed, Sep 24, 2008 (5:40 p.m.)
It's been quite a year for Keola Antolin.
In December, the 2008 Bishop Gorman graduate helped the Gaels to their first state title in two decades. In February, he signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Arizona. And last month, he was told he would be competing for the Wildcats as a true freshman.
But Antolin wasn't done there. If he was not going to redshirt his first year of college, he knew he wanted to have an impact immediately on the field.
Antolin was recently named Pacific-10 Conference's special teams player of the week after gaining 98 yards on three kickoff returns during a 41-16 win over Toledo Sept. 6.
"I didn't really know I got it until my teammates told me," Antolin said.
Gorman coach Bob Altshuler wasn't surprised the Arizona coaching staff elected to play Antolin as a freshman because they expressed interest in doing so when they recruited him. Altshuler was surprised, however, Antolin was able to earn such recognition in just his second game.
"For any kid to be able to win a Pac-10 Player of the Week at any time in their college career is quite an honor," Altshuler said. "But to do that at the beginning of the season your freshman year shows your dedication to the game and your talent."
Antolin has also rushed for 33 yards on 13 carries and scored a touchdown on a 3-yard run against Idaho Aug. 30.
"I was so excited I was going nuts," Antolin said. "That first game was overwhelming. That whole day I was nervous. There are 40,000 people in the stands instead of just some parents like in high school. It's so loud you can't really hear anything at first but once you start playing, everything goes away."
Antolin has also kept a close watch on his alma mater. When Gorman played defending Arizona state champion Phoenix Brophy Prep in Glendale, Ariz., last month, Antolin made the two-hour drive to watch the game.
Antolin's brother, Kawika Antolin, is a tailback for the Gaels.
"He's making a name for himself and that's what he wanted to do — he was always in my shadow," Antolin said.
Antolin also speaks weekly with former Gorman teammate Josh Jordan, who is also playing as a true freshman at rival Arizona State. The two teams meet Dec. 6.
"It will be very interesting," Antolin said.
But first Antolin has to get through eight other Pac-10 games, an experience he said he will enjoy to the fullest.
"It's going to be crazy," Antolin said. "I always watched Pac-10 football when I was young and always wanted to play here. I can't wait to get more experience so next year it won't be so overwhelming."