25 players commit to play at Hawaii on signing day
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 3, 2011
It was not quite a decision of LeBronian proportions, but cornerback Mike Edwards yesterday took a few minutes to mull the two football scholarships.
One was from Cincinnati, which is in the state where he was raised, and the other from Hawaii, which promised, literally, a sunnier future.
Don't underestimate solar power.
"Paradise is my next stop," Edwards said. "I'm going to be a Warrior."
That was one of the nail-nibbling moments for the UH coaching staff, which waited by the fax machines for completed letters of intent from football recruits. Yesterday was the first day football recruits could put their commitments in writing. The NCAA considers a faxed copy of a signed commitment letter to be a binding agreement.
In signing ceremonies from the Midwest to Hawaii, the first installment was made on the Warriors' future.
Defensive end Craig Cofer of Grossmont College signed his papers, then faxed them before heading to classes.
In an elaborate ceremony in Waikiki, All-State linebacker Justin Vele of Farrington High was the Warriors' lone recruit.
In Vancouver, Wash., a school assembly was held as receiver Ellis Henderson of Skyview High signed his UH letter.
Slotback Chinedu Amadi, who goes by his middle name, Promise, said it was a lifelong dream to earn a football scholarship.
"I'm excited about going to Hawaii," he said.
For Edwards, the road to redemption leads to Manoa.
As a Glenville High senior, Edwards received scholarship offers from Michigan, Illinois and Tennessee, among others. He chose Tennessee, playing in five games as a true freshman. But Edwards and three Volunteers teammates were arrested in November 2009 and charged for their alleged involvement in an armed robbery. They were dismissed from the team. The charges were eventually dropped when it was discovered that the incident was a prank that went wrong, and that the alleged weapon was a BB gun.
Edwards transferred to Coffeyville College in Kansas, where he attended school but did not play last year. Still, he received offers from several schools, including Cincinnati, Toledo and Mississippi.
"I picked Hawaii because I had a great visit," Edwards said. "The coaches were great, especially coach Tony (Tuioti). Just being in that setting is the best situation for me now."
He said his family, enduring the blizzard conditions in Ohio, are "fired up about it."
He added that Hawaii "will be a great vacation spot for them. For me, it'll be my workplace."
It was emotional at Kahuku High's gym, where safety Tigi Hill and linebacker Ben Mamea signed their UH letters.
"I still miss our boy Deedee," Mamea said of teammate Keoni "Deedee" Tafuna, who died in November. "He was a great inspiration to all of us, especially me."
Kahuku coach Reggie Torres said Tafuna probably would have played college football.
"I know he's up there smiling down on us," Mamea said.
Mamea acknowledged that signing was the easy part.
"I have to finish strong in school if I want to play for UH in the fall," Mamea said.
Torres said: "They have to work on their organizational skills and their study skills. They're going to the next level. In college, they're on their own. The university has tutors and good academic support. But mom is not up there. You have other influences. It's not easy for young men to stay the course. They have to be mature early. If they don't, they end up back here, looking for a job and struggling. The university has given them a great opportunity. They have to take advantage of it."
PLAYERS WHO SIGNED WITH HAWAIIJunior Alexis
» Defensive lineman, 6-3, 245, Crenshaw High (Los Angeles)
» Assistant coach Tony Tuioti: "He has great upside. He's built like an ox. He blocked for one of the best running backs in the country, DeAnthony Thomas. ... He's going to grow, and he has a frame that will get him to 280. He has a great physique. He's athletic enough to be a great 3-technique when he fills out. He also has the motor to be tough and physical inside."
Chinedu Promise Amadi
Kendrick Van Ackeren