HONOLULU — For the most part, high school seniors are eager to move out of their parents’ house and move in to a dorm room. But 17-year-old Vaughn Meatoga of Kalaheo is already used to it.
“I’ve dormed here at Kamehameha Schools since ninth grade,” said the 6’2” defensive lineman.
Meatoga, who grew up playing Koloa Pop Warner football from Pee Wee to Midget, baseball and golf, was forced to be more independent and disciplined at an early age.
“It forces you to do things on your own,” he said. “Nobody wakes you up and tells you got to go.”
His parents, Kenny and Lynette, prepared him well.
“My parents trained me from when I was young. Everything’s expected of me to do things without having to be told to,” he said.
That type of training he said also helped him stay focused on his goal of playing on the University of Hawai‘i Warrior football team.
“I always wanted to play for Hawai‘i,” he said. “I came up when I was younger — I think I was in middle school — and watched a few games. From then on, I’ve wanted to play.”
Now he’s been offered that chance and more. Today at Kapolei Hale on O‘ahu, he will sign a five-year, full-ride scholarship to play for the Warriors.
“My parents were so happy I had a choice to play over here. My mom really wanted me to play at home,” he said. “But they back me every time I make a decision. They’re really supportive.”
Hawai‘i started recruiting Meatoga last summer while he was attending the Big Man Camp at Moanalua High School.
“I was doing one of the drills one day and (Hawai‘i defensive coach) Jeff Reinebold saw me and he made me do it again,” he said. “So I did it again for him, then at the end of the day, he asked if I was ever interested in playing for Hawai‘i.”
Meatoga had been looking at Boise State and University of Nevada-Las Vegas as backups, but Hawai‘i was his top choice.
“As soon as he asked me that, I didn’t even care about any other schools after that,” he said. “Just the fact that I’d be playing with UH, that’s what I want.”
The Kamehameha Warriors finished tied for second in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu and fifth in states. This year, Meatoga registered 3 sacks during the regular season and 7 total this year.
“I like getting the rush on quarterbacks,” he said.
But if he works hard enough, he’ll be on the field protecting one popular quarterback, senior Colt Brennan.
“That’s really good that he’s is coming back for his senior year,” he said. “I can say I played on the same team as Colt Brennan,” Meatoga said.
With six members of Hawai‘i’s nine-man rotation graduating this year, there’s a good chance Meatoga could get some playing time.
At 280 pounds he’s got some more beefing up to do.
“They want me to get up to 295,” he said.
Right now, he’s not looking too far into the future. He wants to focus on one thing at a time.
“Whatever I do, I want to do my best,” he said. “If I’m playing college football, I want to be the best college football player I can be. I really want to get an education. Then if I get in the NFL, then that’ll be good, too.”
For now, he’ll settle on his next move — from one Warrior dorm room to another this summer.
• Lanaly Cabalo, sports editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or email@example.com.