UH FOOTBALL SIGNS 23 ON 2017 SIGNING DAY

Posted on Feb 6, 2017 in UH Corner

HONOLULU – University of Hawai’i head football coach Nick Rolovich and his coaching staff secured commitments from 23 high school and junior college prospects on National Signing Day, Wednesday, the first day prospects may sign a National Letter of Intent. Rolovich made the announcement official during a Wednesday afternoon press conference at the UH Athletics Department.

Among the 23 signees are 19 high school standouts and four junior college transfers. Ten of the signees are listed as offensive players and 13 as defensive. Among the position breakdown are six defensive backs, five defensive linemen, four offensive linemen, three wide receivers, two linebackers, two running backs, and one tight end. The signees represent seven states (11 – California, 2 – Arizona, Oregon, and 1 – Arkansas, Idaho, Virginia, Washington), three from American Samoa, and one from Canada.

“I feel really good about the guys who wanted to come play here, guys who had multiple offers from great schools but they felt something special in Hawai’i on their visit,” Rolovich said. “Especially ending with three wins, I think it was important for them to see the positive direction that we’re moving. I think this class is fairly balanced we’re really spread out.”

Before the day began, six of the signees are already enrolled in the spring semester. Junior college transfers Marcus Armstrong-Brown, Manu Rasmussen, and Jamie Tago were mid-year signees while freshmen Jay Dominique, Eugene Ford, and Kalepo Naotala began classes on January 9. Armstrong-Brown and Ford were part of last year’s signing class and delayed enrollment until the spring while Tago is a former Warrior who spent the 2016 season at Garden City College in Kansas.

UH fulfilled its need on defense with nearly half of the class either linemen (6) or in the secondary (5). Four of the linemen are freshmen while Tago and Doug Russell (Seattle, Wash.) spurned Power 5 offers to sign with the Warriors. The day concluded with one of the biggest surprises with the signing Vista Murrieta defensive lineman Anthony Mermea, who followed his teammate tight end Kade Greeley to Hawai’i.

A total of seven prospects picked UH over Power 5 schools including Oakland, Calif., linebacker Paul Scott – regarded as one of the top linebackers in the state of California – who picked UH over Cal. Two of the top recruits in American Samoa also inked with the Warriors, defensive lineman Blessman Ta’ala (Faga’itua HS) and Penei Pavihi (Tafuna HS), the latter of whom had multiple Pac-12 offers. Among UH’s six signees in the secondary were prep standouts Donovan Dalton (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Akil Francisco (Alameda, Calif.), and Demario Mclean (Elk Grove, Calif.), all of whom played both ways and were electrifying athletes in high school.

“We wanted to address the line of scrimmage – with the departure of 4-5 seniors on the offensive line next year and you can never have enough good defensive linemen – and it looks to me that winning this conference has to be met at the line of scrimmage, we need to be able to stop the run and I think we addressed that,” Rolovich said. “Also our depth in the secondary wasn’t close to where we wanted to be so getting more speed on the back end was important to us.”

On offense, UH grabbed a pair of speedy wide receivers – Isaia Mullen (Portland, Ore.), the state of Oregon’s top receive prospect out of Madison High, and Drake Stallworth (Folsom, Calif.), who averaged 20.1 yards per catch and scored 19 touchdowns as a senior at Folsom High. Running backs Hekili Keliiliki (Bentonville, Ark.) and Miles Reed (Corona, Calif.) also bring impressive resumes and bulk and speed to the Warrior backfield.

Four offensive linemen who possess imposing figures also signed on Wednesday – versatile JUCO lineman Emil Graves (Fullerton JC) and freshmen Brandon Klipper (Nampa, Idaho), Josaiah Maama (Sunnyvale, Calif.), and Micah Vanterpool (Phoenix, Ariz.) all measure over 6-foot-6 and tip the scales at 270-plus pounds.

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl. Hometown / Previous School Video
Marcus Armstrong-Brown WR 6-3 195 Jr. Napa, Calif. / Diablo Valley College Highlights
Donovan Dalton DB 6-4 200 Fr. Scottsdale, Ariz. / Saguaro HS Highlights
Jay Dominique DB 6-2 195 Fr. Montreal, Canada / Old Montreal Cegep Highlights
Eugene Ford DB 6-2 190 Fr. Los Angeles, Calif. / University HS Highlights
Akil Francisco DB 6-0 160 Fr. Alameda, Calif. / Encinal HS Highlights
Emil Graves OL 6-3 275 Jr. Lynwood, Calif. / Fullerton College Highlights
Kade Greeley TE 6-6 220 Fr. Murrieta, Calif. / Vista Murrieta HS Highlights
Hekili Keliiliki RB 6-2 225 Fr. Bentonville, Ark. / Bentonville HS Highlights
Brandon Kipper OL 6-6 270 Fr. Nampa, Idaho / Columbia HS Highlights
Josaiah Maama OL 6-5 270 Fr. Sunnyvale, Calif. / Kings Academy Highlights
Damario Mclean DB 6-1 185 Fr. Elk Grove, Calif. / Elk Grove HS Highlights
Anthony Mermea DL 6-4 300 Fr. Murrieta, Calif. / Vista Murrieta HS Highlights
Isaia Mullen WR 6-4 190 Fr. Portland, Ore. / Madison HS Highlights
Kalepo Naotala DL 6-3 280 Fr. Newport News, Va. / Menchville HS Highlights
Penei Pavihi LB 6-3 225 Fr. Pago Pago, American Samoa / Tafuna HS Highlights
Manu Rasmussen DB 6-0 185 Jr. Tigard, Ore. / Riverside City College Highlights
Miles Reed RB 5-8 190 Fr. Corona, Calif. / Centennial HS Highlights
Doug Russell DL 6-5 270 Fr. Seattle, Wash. / O’Dea HS Highlights
Paul Scott LB 6-1 205 Fr. Oakland, Calif. / McClymonds Senior HS Highlights
Drake Stallworth WR 6-2 185 Fr. Folsom, Calif. / Folsom HS Highlights
Blessman Ta’ala DL 6-2 285 Fr. Faga’itua, American Samoa / Faga’itua HS Highlights
Jamie Tago DE 6-3 260 Jr. Pago Pago, American Samoa / Garden City College Highlights
Micah Vanterpool OL 6-6 285 Fr. Phoenix, Ariz. / Phoenix Central HS Highlights

2017 Signing Class Bios

Marcus Armstrong-Brown | WR | 6-3 | 195 | Jr. | Napa, Calif. | Diablo Valley JC
A two-year standout wide receiver at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif…recorded 57 receptions for 638 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore after being listed on the JCGridiron.com Preseason JUCO Wide Receiver Watch List (Calif.)…as a freshman, received all-Bay 6 League honors after making 55 catches for 869 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a 15.8 yards per catch average…prior to Diablo, graduated from Justin-Siena High School in Napa, Calif…was named the 2012-13 Napa Valley Register’s Male Athlete of the Year…was starting quarterback in a split-veer offense as a senior, accounting for 776 yards passing with eight touchdowns, and 851 yards rushing for 11 scores…also returned 11 punts for 211 yards and a 19.2-yard average…received first-team all-Marin County Athletic League (MCAL), all-Napa Country honors and earned the team’s “Brave Heart” leadership award after leading JSHS to an 11-2 record and the CIF North Coast Section Division IV title…as a junior, played wide receiver and received second-team all-MCAL and second-team all-county honors…also played basketball and competed in field events on the track team in high school…rated as a three-star recruit by Scout.

Donovan Dalton | DB | 6-4 | 200 | Fr. | Scottsdale, Ariz. | Saguaro High School
Rated a three-star recruit by Scout and 247Sports…played both wide receiver and defensive back…tallied seven touchdowns and close to 700 yards receiving as a junior and senior…averaged 34.5 yards per catch as a junior…as a junior returned two interceptions for 39 yards…also tallied 53 tackles and nine passes defended during his final two seasons of high school…spent freshman and sophomore years in Minnesota, before moving to Arizona…a member of Minnesota’s state championship basketball team in 2013.

Jay Dominique | DB | 6-2 | 195 | Fr. | Montreal, Canada | Old Montreal Cegep
A 2016 graduate of Old Montreal Cegep…a four-time first-team all-state selection…earned all-Canadian honors three times…also named the 2014 Canada Cup defensive MVP…helped team to the 2014 RSEQ Division I state championship…part of a squad that captured the 2015 International Bowl…averaged four interceptions, 20 passes defended and 52 tackles per season.

Eugene Ford | DB | 6-2 | 190 | Fr. | Los Angeles, Calif. | University HS
A 2016 graduate of University High School in Los Angeles, Calif…was a three-year varsity standout on both sides of the ball, registering 87 tackles, including 56 solo stops as a senior… deflected four passes and made two interceptions, including one pick-six…received first-team CIF Division II all-City honors as a defensive back as a senior, also earning first-team all-City honors as a receiver following his junior season…as a receiver, recorded 68 catches for 1,087 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior, racking up 135 career receptions for 2,268 yards and 21 touchdowns…also recorded a 13-yard career average on punt returns…as a junior, he posted 64 tackles and two interceptions, following up a sophomore campaign that included 58 tackles, five passes defended and four interceptions…played basketball for UHS and competed in the triple jump in track and field as a junior.

Akil Francisco | DB | 6-0 | 160 | Fr. | Alameda, Calif. | Encinal HS
Will graduate this spring from Encinal High School in Alameda, Calif…three-year varsity letterwinner in football and track and field…named honorable mention all-Bay Area and honorable mention all-Metro as a senior…helped team to the West Alameda County Conference Shoreline League title, advance to the second round of playoffs, and a 9-3 record…selected first-team all-Shoreline League as a defensive back and on special teams…on defense, recorded 28 tackles, six interceptions, 15 pass breakups and scored two touchdowns (1 defensive, 1 special teams)…on offense, tallied 960 yards of all-purpose yards and nine touchdowns…was a second-team all-WACC pick in 2015…also a track standout and competed in the sprints and jumps…picked UH over Wyoming and Sacramento State.

Emil Graves | OL | 6-3 | 275 | Jr. | Lynwood, Calif. | Fullerton College
Played two seasons at Fullerton College in California…played all three positions on the line – center, guard, and tackle – for Fullerton…helped Fullerton go 12-1 and capture the 2016 junior college national championship…key member of an offense that averaged 49.9 points per game, tops in the California Community College Athletic Association…helped pave the way for a squad that averaged more than 500 yards per game, including 200 on the ground…all-California Region IV first team…also a unanimous all-league first-team selection…prior to Fullerton, graduated from Los Alamitos High School in Southern California…chose UH over Idaho, Middle Tennessee State, and North Texas.

Kade Greeley | TE | 6-6 | 220 | Murrieta, Calif. | Vista Murrieta HS
Rated three stars by Scout…will graduate this spring from Vista Murrieta High School in California…varsity letterwinner in volleyball and football…rated the 17th-best tight end in the state of California and 26th in the West Region…competed in the Inland Empire All-Star Classic…sister Kalei Greeley is a member of the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team…averaged 16.7 yards per reception during senior year…caught six touchdown passes as a junior.

Hekili Keliiliki | RB | 6-2 | 225 | Fr. | Bentonville, Ark. | Bentonville HS
Graduated from Bentonville High School in Arkansas in 2015… lined up at tailback, linebacker and defensive end…as a junior rushed for 771 yards and 11 touchdowns…also scored one touchdown receiving…rated a three-star recruit by 247Sports…helped Tigers win back-to-back Arkansas 7A state championships…selected to the 7A all-state team his senior season as a defensive lineman…offered by Stanford and numerous Ivy league schools during high school…following graduation, served a two-year church mission in Brisbane, Australia.

Brandon Kipper | OL | 6-6 | 270 | Fr. | Nampa, Idaho | Columbia HS
Will graduate this spring from Columbia High School in Nampa, Idaho… a four-year, two-way starter on the line…rated a three-star recruit by Scout…named to the 5A All-Idaho second team as a senior…also a state champion and All-American wrestler…won the heavyweight title at the elite Reno Tournament of Champions in December…chose Hawai’i over Boise State, UTEP, and Army, as well as a wrestling scholarship from top-ranked Oklahoma State.

Josaiah Maama | OL | 6-5 | 270 | Fr. | Sunnyvale, Calif. | Kings Academy
Will graduate this spring from Kings Academy in Sunnyvale, Calif…played both sides of the line…named all-Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division first-team on offense…also competed in wrestling…chose UH over San Jose State and UNLV.

Damario Mclean | DB | 6-1 | 185 | Fr. | Elk Grove, Calif. | Elk Grove HS
Will graduate this spring from Elk Grove High School in California…a three-year varsity letterwinner…posted a total of seven interceptions and 73 tackles during his junior and senior seasons…averaged 32.2 yards per interception return, including two for a touchdown…named to the all-San Joaquin Section Underclass first team and also all-metro honorable mention by the Sacramento Bee as a junior…also saw time at wide receiver…as a senior posted 18 catches for 288 yards (16.0 ypc) and four touchdowns…key member of an Elk Grove squad that went a combined 24-3 overall and 13-1 in league in his final two seasons…runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds…a four-sport athlete, who also played baseball, basketball, and soccer…chose UH over Wyoming, San Jose State, and Nevada.

Anthony Mermea | DL | 6-4 | 300 | Fr. | Murrieta, Calif. | Vista Murrieta HS
Will graduate this spring from Vista Murrieta High School in California…rated a three-star recruit by Scout and 247Sports…ranked as a top 10 defensive tackle in California by Scout…a two-time all-Southwestern League pick, including first-team honors as a senior…selected to compete in the 2016 Inland Empire All-Star Classic.

Isaia Mullen | WR | 6-4 | 190 | Fr. | Portland, Ore. | Madison HS
Will graduate this spring from Madison High School in Portland, Ore…rated a three-star recruit by Scout and 247Sports…ranked as the No. 1 receiver out of Oregon and a top 35 receiver in the West region…rated 12th overall prospect in the state…also a standout basketball player…had 30 catches for 640 yards and six touchdowns as a senior and earned all-state honorable mention honors…named first-team all-league as a junior after posting 24 catches for 502 yards.

Kalepo Naotala | DL | 6-3 | 280 | Fr. | Newport News, Va. | Menchville HS
A 2016 graduate of Menchville High School in Newport News, Va…played both offensive and defensive line…earned all-conference honors on both sides of the ball, including first team mention on defense… participated in the 2016 Polynesian All-American Bowl…lived three years in Hawai’i before moving to Virginia…uncle is former Warrior standout and NFL linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa.

Penei Pavihi | LB | 6-3 | 225 | Fr. | Pago Pago, American Samoa | Tafuna HS
Will graduate this spring from Tafuna High School in Pago Pago, American Samoa…rated as the No. 3 recruit out of American Samoa…named the 2016 American Samoa High School Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year…also earned first team all-ASHSAA first team honors…competed in the JPS Paradise Bowl…picked UH over Washington State and Oregon State.

Manu Rasmussen | DB | 6-0 | 185 | Jr. | Tigard, Ore. | Riverside City College
Played 2016 season for Riverside City College in California … recorded three interceptions for a team-high 78 return yards…also posted nine pass break-ups, 32 tackles, and 1.5 tackles-for-loss…helped the Tigers to a 10-2 mark and the to SCFA Regional championship game…prior to Riverside, spent two years at the University of Montana…redshirted in 2014…played in 12 games of 13 games at safety in 2015 for a squad that advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs …recorded 17 tackles for the Grizzlies…in high school was a first team all-state selection on offense and defense as a senior at Tigard High School in Oregon…lead the Tigers to a 12-1 record while rushing for 1,966 yards and 31 touchdowns.

Miles Reed | RB | 5-8 | 190 | Fr. | Corona, Calif. | Centennial HS
Will graduate this spring from Centennial High School in Corona, Calif…rated a three-star recruit by Scout…as a senior rushed for 2,198 yards and 34 touchdowns…averaged 8.2 yards per carry… helped lead Centennial to an 11-2 record…averaged 235.2 yards rushing against four nationally-ranked teams…ran for 302 yards and two touchdowns in 2016 opener against No. 21 Chandler…had 179 yards and three touchdown against No. 3 IMG Academy (Fla.)…posted 229 yards and four scores against No. 21 Henderson (Nev.) Liberty…in season finale, rushed for 231 yards and three touchdowns against No. 9 Bellflower St. John Bosco…chose UH over Montana and Washington State.

Doug Russell | DL | 6-5 | 270 | Fr. |Seattle, Wash. | O’Dea HS
Will graduate this spring from O’Dea High School in Seattle, Wash…accumulated 100 tackles, 11 tackles-for-loss, and seven sacks during his junior and senior seasons…a three-time all-league selection and two-time Seattle Times all-area pick…as a senior, named the Metro League Mountain Division Defensive Lineman of the Year…also earned all-state honors from USA Today and the Associated Press…helped lead O’Dea to the Class 3A state championship game and a 13-1 overall record…also lettered in basketball.

Paul Scott | LB | 6-1 | 205 | Oakland, Calif. | McClymonds Senior HS
Rated three starts by Scout, 247Sports, and ESPN…will graduate this spring from McClymonds Senior High School in Oakland, Calif…ranked as the 10th best outside linebacker in the state of California and 17th in the West Region by Scout…picked No. 120th top prospect in the state by ESPN… San Francisco Chronicle honorable mention all-East Bay pick during senior season, which was cut short due to injury…named CalHISports.com first-team all-state small schools and all-East Bay honorable mention as a junior…helped his team to a 12-1 mark in 2015…also competed in track and field.

Drake Stallworth | WR | 6-2 | 185 | Fr. | Folsom, Calif. | Folsom HS
Will graduate this spring from Folsom High School in California…rated a three-star recruit by Scout…helped the Bulldogs to a pair of conference championships and a sectional championship…a two-time all-league and all-metro first-team pick…also earned all-state, all-section, and all-NorCal honors as a senior…had 24 receptions for 457 yards with seven touchdowns as junior…posted 61 receptions for 1224 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior…averaged 20.1 yards per catch…on defense, recorded 46 tackles, 33 solo, recorded six interceptions, racking up 116 return yards as a junior…scored two defensive touchdowns, one on an interception return and the other on a 92-yard fumble recovery.

Blessman Ta’ala | DL | 6-2 | 285 | Fr. | Faga’itua, American Samoa | Faga’itua HS
Rated a three-start recruit by Scout and 247Sports…No. 2 recruit out of American Samoa…played on both the offensive and defensive lines as well as linebacker…as a senior, named the American Samoa High School Athletic Association Most Valuable Player…also earned ASHSAA first-team honors…named ASHSAA Defensive Player of the Year as a junior…participated in the US Army National Underclassmen Combine in San Antonio, Texas…competed in the JPS Paradise Bowl at Aloha Stadium.

Jamie Tago | DL | 6-3 | 260 | Jr. | Pago Pago, American Samoa | Garden City College
Played 2016 season at Garden City College in Kansas…a defensive standout for a team that finished a perfect 11-0 en route to its first-ever JC national championship…earned first-team all-conference honors…recorded 71 tackles, 22 tackles-for-loss and 9.5 sacks…also recorded four forced fumbles, one interception, and six pass break-ups… spent the 2014 and ’15 seasons at UH…redshirted in 2014 and appeared in three games in 2015 on special teams…came to UH a from Samoana High School in American Samoa where he was four-year letterwinner while lining up primarily at safety and wide receiver… rated as the No. 4 recruit out of American Samoa and was a member of American Samoa’s Under-19 National Team….related to former Rainbow Warrior and NFL defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga…also related to UH Circle of Honor inductees Al and Niko Noga.

Micah Vanterpool | OL | 6-6 | 285 | Fr. | Phoenix, Ariz. | Phoenix Central HS
Will graduate this spring from Phoenix Central High School in Arizona…a first-team All-6A Conference selection…played primarily at left tackle…did not surrender a single sack during his high school career…also lettered in basketball and competed in the shot put and discus for the track and field squad…chose UH over Boise State, New Mexico State, and UNLV.

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