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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A star rises in Hawaii

it's sometimes easy to forget about talented players in Hawaii, but this year college coaches searching for the next big thing from the Islands have flocked to the state to check out prime-time recruits such as linebacker V.J. Fehoko, offensive tackle Micah Hatchie, defensive tackle Graham Rowley and fullback Dustin Elisara.

But coaches are starting to whisper four-star defensive end Kona Schwenke, of Kahuku High, might be the best of all.

After an impressive showing at the Nike Training Camp in Palo Alto, Calif., the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Schwenke has become one of the nation's hottest targets. He has received scholarship offers from BYU, Colorado, Oregon State, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah, Hawaii and Washington.

"The Nike Camp went good, and I got to go up against some of the top linemen in the country," Schwenke said. "It really gave me a great chance to test myself against some of the nation's best players. I know I did well and impressed a lot of people."

At this point, BYU, Hawaii, Utah, Oregon State and Washington are his top teams. Schwenke is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and would like to go on a mission after he completes high school.

"I need to find coaches that understand that," he said. "The coaches will be huge in my decision. I need to be with coaches that'll help me get to the next level after college, and also appreciate my faith and support whatever decision I make with my mission."

So far, coaches have been receptive to that idea.

"I've kept in touch with BYU and Washington the most," Schwenke said. "I'm supposed to talk to the Utah coach soon. I haven't given him a call yet. I really like those three schools. I like the coaches at BYU and I'm a Mormon, so I'd like to stay active while I'm in school.

"I've never really researched Washington, but their coaches are cool and I like how they treat their players. I hope to learn a lot about Utah, too, when I talk to them."

Playing at Hawaii isn't out of the question, either.

"I talk to the Hawaii coaches, but I'm fine with going away," he said. "I just need to go on my mission first."

Schwenke doesn't have a true timeline on his decision. But he knows with the pressure of being one of the West's best and his pending mission, it might be best to get it done before the season starts.

"My dad wants me to narrow the schools down to a top five," he said. "From there, that'll make it easier to make the final choice."

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