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Colorado scores big in Hawaii's Top 10

By Ferd Lewis

LAST UPDATED: 4:11 a.m. HST, Feb 3, 2011

At 7 a.m., when Juda Parker, Paulay Asiata and K.T. Tuumalo raised their pens to sign national letters of intent to attend the University of Colorado, it was 68 degrees outside the Sheraton Waikiki, where the Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance ceremonies were held.

In their snow-blanketed, soon-to-be-home of Boulder, Colo., the temperature was minus 3.

But word of their signing on the first day that high school players could make binding scholarship commitments warmed a lot of hearts in the Rocky Mountain region.

"Plenty of warmth," CU coach Jon Embree exulted after the official announcement. With three of the top five players on the Star-Advertiser's list of Top 10 prospects, the Buffaloes were the big winners in the Hawaii recruiting derby for 2011 and a team to watch in the future.

With so many blue chips spoken for in what was an overall lean recruiting crop, that didn't leave much for the University of Hawaii — or many others, outside of Oregon — in the Warriors' back yard.

The depth of the Buffaloes' success was a surprise few saw coming a month or more ago. Oregon snaring the other two players in the top five, Saint Louis quarterback Marcus Mariota and Kamehameha defensive end Koa Ka'ai, was one thing. After all, the much-celebrated Ducks made it to the Bowl Championship Series national title game.

But CU landing Parker, a 6-foot-4, 245 pound defensive end, and Asiata, a 6-5, 300-pound offensive lineman from Saint Louis School, plus Tuumalo, a 6-3, 210-pound Punahou linebacker in one 11th-hour rally?

That was remarkable. Doubly so when you consider the Buffaloes went 5-7 last season, Asiata had earlier pledged to Washington, Tuumalo had announced Boise State and Embree got the job less than two months ago, leaving barely two weeks actual contact time around NCAA-imposed "dead" or "quiet" periods.

But the Buffaloes had two veteran recruiters with Hawaii ties, Brian Cabral and Mike Tuiasosopo, an active assist from Parker, something to sell and apparently did it well.

"That is a long way from home to go for college and their families are trusting us with their kids. That is testament to the relationships they (Cabral and Tuiasosopo) had with those kids," Embree said.

There was the move from the Big 12 to the Pac-12, a chance to compete for early playing time and three games against Hawaii in the next five years, beginning with the Sept. 3 season opener at Aloha Stadium, all points of emphasis.

And Parker lobbied Asiata, his friend since the sixth grade. "Maybe just a little," Asiata said.

CU has gotten players from here before, of course, including Cabral in the early 1970s, Gary Campbell, Chris Naeole and Jordon Dizon to name a few. But the talent went to Boulder mostly in stop-and-start dribbles, not in a flood like yesterday.

And indications are the Buffaloes will be back in attempts to extend their pipeline. "Brian and Mike will continue to recruit there," Embree promised. "They'll both be recruiting there."

When you can recruit prospects of a high level to travel 3,400 miles and 71 degrees from their home, that is saying something.

Reach Ferd Lewis at

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