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Baldwin's Ewaliko commits to UH
May 15, 2012 - Robert Collias
This just happens to be Roblog No. 1,500 and it is a biggie. This is a huge coup for Hawaii football coach Norm Chow because Utah assistant coach Chad Kauhaahaa was at Baldwin spring practice on Monday. I filed this story last night for this morning's paper, an exclusive, breaking story:
WAILUKU — It appears the state track meet yielded more than two gold medals and a team crown for Baldwin High School's Keelan Ewaliko.
The state 200-meter champion who anchored the Bears' 400 relay team to that title received a scholarship offer from University of Hawaii football coach Norm Chow in a phone call Sunday.
Ewaliko said Monday before a Baldwin spring practice that while he still must discuss the offer with his parents, he verbally committed to the Warriors during the call with Chow.
"What he was telling me really hit home, 'Keep it in the islands, show the Mainland what us local boys can do,' ‹ that hit home hard," Ewaliko said in his first interview on the subject. "When I was little I always wanted to be a Warrior. I always looked up to UH and that was my college, but I was also thinking the Mainland exposure is very good. So it was a win-win. I verbally committed to UH."
The offer popped up quickly after the state track meet success for the Bears, who won their first state team track title Saturday night at Keaau High School Stadium.
"It is exciting, it is kind of like an honor," Ewaliko said. "My mom got an email last night that said I should call coach Chow ASAP. I called him and we were talking and basically he was telling me that he wants me to come, he wants to keep me in the islands at UH and I have a full-ride, five-year scholarship to UH."
Ewaliko is a two-time Maui Interscholastic League offensive player of the year who is entering his senior season as the only player in MIL history to lead the league in rushing and passing yards in the same season.
Chow told Ewaliko there is a possibility he will greyshirt the 2013 football season and enroll fulltime at the Manoa campus in January 2014.
"He mentioned a greyshirt year because as of right now, I am not big and he thinks I need to get bigger," the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Ewaliko said. "He wants me to be bigger, stronger, faster. He told me greyshirt one year — he said he is not demoting me — it is kind of a privilege."
Ewaliko is the second Baldwin player with high school eligibility left to receive a scholarship offer from Chow, joining sophomore linebacker Jordan Hoiem, who has not verbally committed.
Ewaliko feels his win in the state 200 — he was also sixth in the 100 and held off a tough Keaau team at the wire of the relay — spurred Chow to action. College coaches cannot comment on recruits until they have signed a letter of intent.
"(Chow) was telling me that he doesn't want to give up this opportunity because he was watching me and he was telling himself that, 'You are too fast, too good to let pass by' and he doesn't want to take that chance," Ewaliko said. "I think (the state track meet) really did help because he was talking to me about the track meet and he was, like, 'Wow, you are a standout and you are too good to give up' and he was congratulating me on the success I was able to accomplish."
The Bears have a date with powerhouse Saint Louis School at Aloha Stadium in August that could go a long way in the state rankings.
"I am really looking forward to that one," Ewaliko said. "That is going to be a real check-up for us to see how good we are."
Vetekina Malafu, an MIL All-Star running back who graduates this week, said that Chow made a strong decision to offer his buddy a scholarship.
"I know for sure Keelan Ewaliko can play Division I football because he has the arm, he has the speed and I remember sophomore year when he came out I was older on the team that he was and I told him, 'Keep working hard because you are still the underdog,' " Malafu said. "I still remember the first day when he came out for varsity (as a sophomore) everybody looked down on him — they never knew how good he is. He proved them all wrong."
Malafu, who ran the second leg of the relay at state and was second in the 110 hurdles, recently received a walk-on invitation to Nevada-Las Vegas from former Baldwin coach Jimmy Morimoto, who is a recruiter for the Rebels. Former Bears Sean Tesoro, John Lotulelei and Troy Aoki are on the UNLV roster.
NCAA Division III Linfield is also in the running for Malafu's services.
"It is 50-50 between those two right now," Malafu said.
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