A total of 101 players who graduated from local high schools dot the rosters of major D-I teams on the mainland.
Throw in the 55 playing for Hawaii this season and you're looking at more than 150 gearing up for the beginning of the 2009 college football season.
And that's just at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level. It doesn't include Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams like Weber State and Portland State, or other kids who go the junior college route.
"When you think about it, that's very impressive for a place out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, pumping that many kids into schools mostly on the West Coast," said Brian McLaughlin, who tracks national recruiting for The Sporting News.
Getting the necessary exposure had long been a problem for players coming out of high school here. But as the popularity of college football has continued to grow, so too have opportunities for kids to get their names out to the appropriate people, at younger and younger ages.
Recruiting has become so competitive that Hawaii coach Greg McMackin offered Saint Louis freshman Reeve Koehler a scholarship when he was in eighth grade.
The recruiting spotlight was never brighter on Hawaii than last year, when Punahou standout Manti Te'o had every major college eager for his services.
While Te'o eventually settled on Notre Dame, his recruitment opened the door for others from the islands to secure important scholarships to mainland schools.
"There's no question he has opened it up more than it has ever been," McLaughlin said.
The proof is in the numbers. Of the 101 players, 24 graduated from high school last June. And according to Rivals.com, 19 kids from the class of 2010 have already been offered scholarships for next season, comparable to Nevada (21) and Utah (23), and way ahead of Oregon (seven) and Idaho (four).
"I think people have started to realize that it's more of a gold mine over there then they thought," McLaughlin said. "I've had a few people say to me, 'Man, did we miss a kid over there because we weren't paying attention.'"
Oregon State coach Mike Riley has been the Pac-10's biggest recruiter in recent years. Fifteen of the 46 Pac-10 players from Hawaii are Beavers, but the competition to recruit these players is at an all-time high.
Second-year UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel missed out on Te'o, but still managed to land Kapolei's Stan Hasiak, Kamehameha's Charles Soon and Punahou's Dalton Hilliard.
Hasiak is one of three guys from Hawaii expected to play big roles on the Bruins offensive line, joining starters Eddie Williams (Damien '06) and Kai Maiava (Baldwin '07), who sat out last year after transferring from Colorado, as part of a six- or seven-man rotation.
Hasiak is filling in for Mililani's Micah Kia (Mililani '06), who had surgery Tuesday on a torn ACL suffered during fall camp and will miss the entire season.
First-year Washington coach Steve Sarkisian added Punahou's Kimo Makaula and Hilo's Semisi Tokolahi to a roster including offensive lineman Mykenna Ikehara (Kamehameha '08), defensive end Kalani Aldrich (Kamehameha-Hawaii '07) and All-Pac-10 senior Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (Hawaii Prep '05).
Sarkisian has offers out to eight local recruits, including Mililani's Taz Stevenson, who said as recently as two weeks ago that the Huskies were still on top of his list.
Every Pac-10 team has at least one player from the islands including Washington State, which plays Hawaii in nine days. Senior offensive lineman Reed Lesuma (Kahuku '02) is the oldest of the bunch and defensive end Jordan Pu'u Robinson (Baldwin '09) is a true freshman.
Here's a look at some of the big games this weekend involving local athletes:
Utah State at No. 19 Utah
Kepa Gaison (Kamehameha '05) walked on his freshman year as a punter. He'll begin his senior year starting at linebacker. Gaison and junior Nai Fotu (Kahuku '07), who will start in place of injured Koa Misi at defensive end, will try to help the Utes extend the nation's longest winning streak to 15 games. Gaison had six tackles and two sacks in last year's Sugar Bowl against Alabama, convincing coaches he could play the position while moving Fotu back to defensive end.
No. 16 Oregon at No. 14 Boise State
Ducks quarterback Jeremiah Masoli (Saint Louis '06) kicks off his junior campaign with much hype after appearing on a regional cover of Sports Illustrated. Masoli, a dual threat who ran for 718 yards and 10 touchdowns and threw for 1,744 yards and 13 TDs last year, looks to build on a sophomore campaign that saw him named MVP of the Holiday Bowl against Oklahoma State.
Nevada at No. 23 Notre Dame
Te'o makes his much-anticipated debut for the Fighting Irish. His Punahou classmate, receiver Robby Toma, will likely red-shirt. Jared Silva-Purcell (Saint Louis '06) is the backup middle linebacker and Michael Andrews (Kalaheo '06) is a backup defensive tackle for the Wolf Pack, who have lost four of their last five season openers.
2009 HAWAII GROWN FOOTBALL PLAYERSA total of 101 Hawaii high school players are on Division I (FBS) mainland football teams this year. Here they are:
|B.J. Adolpho||New Mexico St.||Fr||5-11||215||LB||Kahuku|
|Ka'ua Adolpho||New Mexico St.||Jr||6-1||237||DE||Kahuku|
|Solomona Aigamaua||California||Soph||6-1||246||LB||Saint Louis|
|Ikaika Aken-Moleta||San Deigo St.||Sr||6-2||295||OL||Kapolei|
|Tyson Alualu||California||Sr||6-3||290||DL||Saint Louis|
|J.J. Autele||San Diego St.||Soph||6-1||245||DL||Punahou|
|Sam Fehoko||Texas Tech||Soph||5-11||220||LB||Farrington|
|Mana Greig||Oregon||Fr||5-11||285||OL||Saint Louis|
|Brandon Hardin||Oregon St.||Soph||6-2||210||DB||Kamehameha|
|Trask Iosefa||San Diego St.||Jr||6-0||290||OL||Punahou|
|Devon Kell||Oregon St.||Fr||6-3||213||TE/LB||Hilo|
|Kaulin Krebs||Oregon St.||Fr||6-0||191||WR||Kahuku|
|Shawn Lauvao||Arizona St.||Sr||6-3||305||OL||Farrington|
|Reed Lesuma||Washington St.||Sr||6-4||311||OL||Kahuku|
|Steve Lightsy||San Jose St.||Sr||6-4||345||OL||Kahuku|
|Stanley Malamala||Arizona St||Sr||6-3||267||TE||Lahainaluna|
|Abe Markowitz||Southern Cal||Fr||6-1||280||OL||Punahou|
|Castro Masaniai||Oregon St.||Fr||6-2||296||DL||Waipahu|
|Jeremiah Masoli||Oregon||Jr||5-11||214||QB||Saint Louis|
|Mike Matamua||San Deigo St.||Soph||6-4||290||OL||Kapolei|
|Brian Matsumoto||Arizona St||Sr||6-0||177||WR||Punahou|
|Wilder McAndrews||Oregon St.||Jr||6-4||288||OL||Kamehameha|
|Manu Ngatikaura||San Jose St.||Jr||5-10||185||DB||Kahuku|
|Aaron Nichols||Oregon St.||Jr||6-0||186||WR||Kamehameha|
|Mika Nickel||Utah St.||Fr||6-2||246||DL||Hawaii Prep|
|David Niumatalolo||New Mexico St.||Soph||6-2||265||DL||Kahuku|
|Kaua Olds||Oregon St.||Fr||5-10||188||DB||Castle|
|David Pa'aluhi III||Oregon St.||Soph||5-11||233||LB||Waianae|
|Ryan Pohl||Oregon St.||Jr||6-3||284||OL||Kamehameha|
|Jordan Pu'u Robinson||Washington St.||Fr||6-3||256||DL||Baldwin|
|Mana Rosa||Oregon St.||Fr||6-3||245||DL||Baldwin|
|Kapua Sai||Utah||Fr||6-5||319||OL||Saint Louis|
|Kawika Shook||New Mexico St.||Jr||6-3||245||DE||Kamehameha|
|Jared Silva-Purcell||Nevada||Jr||5-11||220||LB||Saint Louis|
|Braden Storaasli||San Jose St.||Jr||6-0||213||LB||Damien|
|Manti Te'o||Notre Dame||Fr||6-2||224||LB||Punahou|
|Daniel Te'o-Nesheim||Washington||Sr||6-4||263||DL||Hawaii Prep|
|Robby Toma||Notre Dame||Fr||5-9||175||WR||Punahou|
|Tonu Tuimalealiifano||Oregon St.||Soph||6-1||276||DL||Farrington|
|Suaesi Tuimauneu||Oregon St.||Jr||6-1||207||DB||Kahuku|
|Devin Unga||Oregon St.||Fr||6-1||215||LB||Kahuku|
|Kevin Unga||Oregon St.||Fr||6-1||223||DL||Kahuku|
|Kamaloni Vainikolo||Utah St.||Jr||6-2||280||DL||Maui|
|Walker Vave||Oregon St.||Jr||6-2||240||LB||Kahuku|
|Simione Vehikite||Southern Cal||Fr||6-0||245||FB||Kapolei|