PUKALANI - For the 130-plus football players on the field at King Kekaulike Stadium on Thursday, the seventh annual Just Win Camp was a big opportunity.
A stellar list of coaches dotted the field - Mike Sanford and Gary Anderson, the head coaches fron UNLV and Utah State, respectively; local-born offensive guru Norm Chow, currently at UCLA; former Baldwin coach Chad Kauhaahaa, in his first season as a Division I assistant coach at Utah State; as well as assistants from California, Utah, Hawaii and Arizona.
''By far this is the best and most talented group of coaches we have ever had,'' Just Win Camp director and King Kekaulike High School coach J.W. Kenton said. ''I told the kids in the gym, 'These are probably the best coaches in the world,' so they better just sell everything they have got for them.''
This may be the last year that kind of lineup is possible, however, if NCAA legislation goes through that would limit coaches to clinics and camps within a 50-mile radius of their campus.
''If you talk to coaches, they will tell you this could be the last year for camps, period, in the state of Hawaii,'' Kenton said. ''The NCAA just passed a rule. I don't know when it was passed, but all of the coaches here were at risk of not coming about a month ago. They all had a special waiver (granted) from the NCAA to come to this camp, the All-Poly Camp, or the Education First Camp, no matter what.''
That would be a downer to players like King Kekaulike offensive and defensive lineman Elvis Matagi, who Kenton sees as the first player from the Upcountry school with the possibility of garnering an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship.
''It is really important for guys like me from Maui to be able to show what we can do at a camp like this,'' said Matagi, who is 6-foot-2 and 252 pounds. ''We need to get known because Maui guys don't get as much notice as Oahu kids do. It is a good time to meet with all the coaches.''
Matagi said he doesn't have any firm offers yet, but UH, Washington State, Washington, UNLV, Colorado and Utah State have all shown genuine interest.
''Well, Elvis, Scout.com and other services, they compare him to Mana Rosa from Baldwin last year,'' Kenton said. ''I think he is a three-star (player). The star things are kind of hard to rate, but he is very talented. He is going to be a qualifier, so we expect him to be the first Kekaulike football player to ever sign a Division I football scholarship, so we are pretty happy with him.''
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