HONOLULU — University of Hawaii football head coach Nick Rolovich announced the signing of 10 prospects on national signing day on Wednesday. The group includes five junior college players and five from the prep ranks. Seven are listed as offensive players, two on defense and one athlete.
With the addition of the 10 signees during the traditional regular period and 17 signees from December’s new early signing period, the Warriors have inked 27 for the Class of 2018. The class includes 14 on offense, 10 on defense, and three athletes.
Highlighting the regular period signees are a pair of wide receivers from Hawaii high schools – Jonah Panoke (6-2, 185) from state champion Saint Louis (Honolulu) School and Scott McLeod (6-2, 225) from Saint Francis (Honolulu) School. Both were first-team all-state receivers who competed in this year’s Polynesia Bowl. Panoke is the third Crusader to join the Warriors along with quarterback Chevan Cordeiro and defensive back Kai Kaneshiro, both of whom signed in December. McLeod was a finalist for Cover2 Tommy Kaulukukui Award as the state’s offensive player of the year.
“In the past couple years we haven’t done a good job locally,” Rolovich said. “(Our coaches) deserve a lot of credit for their persistence, for their relationship- building. It shows if you put some good effort into it and make that your emphasis, we can get it done.”
Half of Wednesday’s signees are listed as offensive linemen, including three from junior colleges – Alex Dalpe (6-4, 290) from Long Beach City College, Ernest Moore (6-8, 305) from City College of San Francisco and Gene Pryor (6-3, 305) from College of the Sequoias. Dalpe was teammates with December signee Cedric Byrd at LBCC while Moore joins his CCSF teammate Kohl Levao, who signed in December. San Clemente (Calif.) High’s Thomas Wade (6-7, 250) and Centennial (Calif.) High’s Solo Vaipulu (6-3, 300) are among a group of seven offensive lineman in the Class of 2018. Vaipulu spurned several offers from Power 5 conferences to join the Warriors.
“With the way we’re going with the offense, we felt if we don’t have an offensive line we can’t do anything,” Rolovich said. “So I’m very happy that we were able to secure the JC guys and we’re not against the high school guys coming in and competing either because I think we have some really talented young guys.”
Defensive lineman Justus Tavai (6-3, 290), the younger brother of UH linebacker Jahlani Tavai, comes to Mānoa from El Camino College and is the fourth Tavai brother to play FBS football. Tavai is the seventh defensive lineman in this year’s class. Golden West College’s Manase Time (5-11, 205) was rated as the No. 16 juco safety while Monrovia (Calif.) High’s Michael Washington (6-0, 160) was a two-way player who also excels as a kickoff returner.
“You have to evaluate who they are as people, plus what they can bring on the field,” Rolovich said about the recruitment process. “We had some immediate needs that we really didn’t think when we began this class. We had to address the line of scrimmage, especially on the offensive side and I thought we did that. Four JC guys is not something you want to really live in every year but I felt like it was a necessity this year.”