Defensive tackle Kory Rasmussen faced an uncertain future when he decided to leave the University of Colorado — and a football scholarship — and transfer to the University of Hawaii in August 2013.
The Rainbow Warriors had no available scholarships, not even for SuperPrep’s No. 3 Hawaii prospect from 2012.
“It was a hard decision to come home,” said Rasmussen, a Kamehameha Schools graduate. “There were no guarantees.”
With support from his parents, Rasmussen balanced studies, football commitments and two jobs as a redshirt in 2013 and reserve defensive lineman last year.
The hard work was recognized. UH coach Norm Chow has awarded football scholarships to Rasmussen and long-snapper Brian Hittner.
“I’m really happy,” said Rasmussen, who still works in a hospital and as a landscaper.
Rasmussen was considered the state’s top defensive tackle as a Kamehameha senior. At UH, he practiced on the offensive line several times before moving permanently to defense. He was listed as the No. 2 nose tackle on the post-spring depth chart. Defensive coordinator Tom Mason uses an expanded rotation, and considers all players on the two-deep chart to be starters.
Hittner, who was raised in Anaheim, Calif., initially joined the Warriors in 2012 after transferring from Saddleback College. He then returned to Saddleback to earn additional transferrable credits. He rejoined the Warriors last year. He said his parents paid for his tuition, housing and school expenses. He said his grandmother and an aunt would send him money for additional expenses.
Last year, the Warriors led the nation with 86 punt attempts. Hittner did not have a bad snap.
After the season, Hittner pondered transferring because of the high cost of being a non-scholarship player.
“It was too expensive,” Hittner said.
Hittner also weighed the drawbacks. “Being a senior at a Division I school, you pretty much have to go down to Division II or Division III,” he said. “I didn’t want to do that.”
Chow told Hittner he would be in line for the next available scholarship.
“He stuck to his word,” Hittner said. “He put me on.”
Hittner then called his trifecta of support — his parents, aunt and grandmother.
“They were so happy,” Hittner said. “It was great. Long-snappers don’t go on scholarship that often.”
Hittner then marveled: “They’re paying me to play a sport? I’m grateful.”