247Sports Brandon Huffman to hold free football recruiting seminar at Moanalua

247Sports Brandon Huffman to hold free football recruiting seminar at Moanalua

247Sports National recruiting editor Brandon Huffman will be on O’ahu on Wednesday, July 10 to put on a football recruiting seminar for high school athletes of all ages. While free, attendees are asked to bring small donations of school supplies.

247Sports Brandon Huffman to hold free football recruiting seminar at Moanalua

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JULY 8, 2024

HONOLULU – After over 20 years of experience in the college football recruiting space, 247Sports National Recruiting Editor Brandon Huffman has a good handle on what it takes to make it to the next level on the gridiron. 

The Polynesian Bowl selection committee member has also seen his fair share of talent come out of the islands, remembering the early days of receiving emails from current Washington Commanders quarterback and former Saint Louis School standout Marcus Mariota to get ranked and rated in a time that Hawai’i wasn’t known for skill-position players or anyone at quarterback. 

Safe to say, times have changed during his career. 

Huffman attended the final Under Armour Next camp on Saturday, July 6 over on Maui’s King Kekaulike high school campus, seeing much of Hawai’i’s top talent for 2025, 2026, 2027 and 2028 recruiting classes. Among those in attendance was Farrington offensive lineman Abel Hoopii, who dominated during the camp to the point of earning an invitation to the 2025 Under Armour Next All-American game after earning OL MVP honors and being named “Alpha Dog” of the camp.  

In total, three invites to the Under Armour All-American game were given to players who attended the camp in Hoopii and Arizona State linebacker commit Isaiah Iosefa joining top offensive lineman recruit and Nebraska commit Houston Kaahaaina-Torres with invites to the prestigious event. Kaahaaina-Torres received his invitation for the 2025 Under Armour All-American game last year during the ESPN 300 Elite Hawaii Camp on Maui. 

Huffman now visits O’ahu for the commitment announcements of Hoopii, Campbell QB Jaron Keawe-Sagapolutele and a few other top recruits from the islands and will hold a free football recruiting seminar at Moanalua High School gym on Wednesday, July 10 for players of all ages from any school. The only request is to bring a small donation of school supplies for those in need for any players planning to attend. 

“This is one of those things where, by being in the recruiting space for 22 years and seeing the variations of where it was in 2003 when I first started covering recruiting to 2024 where social media has become such a huge part of it, where NIL is a huge part of it … I’ve got a lot of bandwidth over the years in terms of information I’ve been able to glean,” Huffman said. “It’s what you have to do [to be recruited and play at the next level].” 

In all, the seminar will touch on topics such as what the rankings and stars of recruiting mean, how to get recruited if you are non-varsity, 7-on-7 and lineman training, what offers and visits mean for recruits and much more. In conjunction with the National Football Foundation’s Hawai’i chapter, Huffman plans to give the encyclopedia of knowledge he’s accumulated over more than two decades about sending kids from the high school to college level. 

247Sports national recruiting editor Brandon Huffman will hold a free recruiting clinic for football players on Wednesday, July 10 at 1:00 p.m. at Moanalua HS gym. A small donation of school supplies for those in need is requested from attendees. | Photo Credit: Hawaii High School P.R.O. Day (@808ProDay / via X)

 

Hawai’i football shifting the tides in local recruiting (and people are noticing)

Huffman joined Hawai’i Sports Radio Network to discuss the free recruiting seminar and the camp highlights from Saturday on Maui but touched on Hawai’i football recruiting and a multitude of topics as well. 

The national recruiting editor for 247Sports mentioned being a fan of the strategy employed by Hawai’i head coach Timmy Chang and his staff in recruiting, putting an emphasis on retaining talent that comes from the islands and recruiting at home while still putting the program’s name in the running for various prospects across the continent.  

“I love it,” Huffman said of the talent in the state of Hawai’i. “[The state of Hawai’i] will never be California because it doesn’t have the depth, it may not be Arizona because it doesn’t have the population, but Hawai’i is pushing Arizona and Utah for the number two state out west in terms of top-end talent … You’ve seen the state go from this thought that it’s only lineman to if I want to find a dude, it doesn’t matter what the position is, I’m going to find one [in Hawai’i].” 

In Chang, Huffman also believes that Hawai’i has found a captain to steer the ship in the right direction not just on the field, but in the way he has recruited.  

“You have to understand Hawai’i to recruit to Hawai’i, to coach at Hawai’i,” Huffman said. “You cannot get any more into the fabric of Honolulu, of the island, of UH football than Timmy Chang. It was a tremendous hire … [he took lumps early] but there was never a backing down from him. He wanted to go toe-to-toe with the big boys.” 

While some of those recruiting battles with the “big boys” of the Power 4 conferences don’t go in the favor of Hawai’i, Huffman lauded the staff’s ability to understand the importance of keeping those relationships alive for the future. 

[Chang’s staff] understands that with the local kids that are higher profile, they might leave and go to the mainland to go to school, but they never burn those bridges,” he said. “If he doesn’t like it, if it doesn’t work out, [the player] can come back here and can thrive and Timmy gets that.” 

Huffman has spent plenty of time evaluating prospects from Hawai’i, serving as a recruiting director for the west coast for a substantial portion of his career in sports. Despite gaining national notoriety for his time on the scene for recruiting, Huffman’s greatest venture is his non-profit, the Avery Huffman DIPG Foundation. 

The Avery Huffman DIPG Foundation was established in 2016 to honor the courage, fight and legacy of Brandon Huffman’s 7-year-old daughter Avery, who passed away in February of 2016 after 7-and-a-half-month battle with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). DIPG is the deadliest form of brain cancer, a rare terminal tumor of the brainstem that occurs almost exclusively in children. 

You can click here for more information about the foundation, how you can donate and more to help in the fight against DIPG. 

NASED update: Stadium Authority board meeting June 2024

NASED update: Stadium Authority board meeting June 2024

NASED update: Stadium Authority board meeting June 2024

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED JUNE 28, 2024

AIEA — The journey towards the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District continues forward.

The timeline still remains for a 2028 opening of the new Aloha Stadium after the Stadium Authority concluded their June board meeting at the Aloha Stadium conference room Thursday morning.

A hot topic in the meeting was regarding the withdrawal of Waiola Development Partners (WDP), one of two developmental teams that were listed as priority-listed offerers in March, from the Request for Proposal (RFP) phase last week resulted in some concern among the general public, but board members assured that the lone remaining team does not gain any leverage.

Aloha Halawa District Partners (AHDP), is the likely winner of the master developer contract that allows them to build, operate and maintain a new 25,000-seat stadium and develop the rest of the 98 acres around the area in Halawa, providing that AHDP’s proposal meets all the state’s requirements of the new stadium.

The deadline to submit the proposal during the RFP phase is July 31 with the selection of a lone preferred offeror to be completed in the fall or near the end of September. Stadium Manager Ryan Andrews affirmed that the process was meant to whittle the selection down to one developmental team.

“From the very beginning, this RFP was designed for the situation of having only one offeror,” said Andrews.

Board member John Fink added that even if there were seven proposals at the end of next month, the state would only move forward with one team at that stage of the procurement process.

“Anybody who thinks those people would be waiting to see if that came through, they would disband and disappear so it’s not like there would be a fallback once we had someone chosen,” said Fink.

“This is not like Miss America where you have a first runner-up that stands by waiting.”

Stadium Authority board Chair Brennon Morioka said that although disappointed by WDP’s exit, it does provide some advantages with the state dealing with only one group sooner.

“We do look at this as an opportunity to move the project quicker and in deeper conversation with Aloha Halawa District Partners so we can get into much more meaningful conversation with them on the entirety of their proposal not just the concepts, but their financial aspects as well and how we’re comfortable,” Morioka said.

Morioka also clarified that the state is only contributing $350 million dollars to the NASED project out of the $400 million appropriated by the state legislature because a portion of that money will go towards other costs such as contingency costs, construction management and consulting fees.

It also means that AHDP, or whoever wins the rights to develop the stadium and its surrounding area, will have to fund the rest of the project with their own private equity.

“All of the requirements that we put into the RFP is going to cost more than $350 that we providing so the winning team will still have to provide their own money not just for the stadium, but for all the infrastructure on the site itself, so there’s still a tremendous amount of skin in the game,” said Morioka.

“We’re very confident that this procurement process really helps protect the state and our interest while shifting a lot of the risk — there is still some shared risk — but it shifts a lot of the risks on to the developer. We’re confident and optimistic that we’re still going to be getting a tremendous proposal in July and we’re looking forward to working much closer with AHDP over the next few weeks.”

State senator Glenn Wakai, an avid proponent of the building the new stadium, does not view the idea of having just one offeror as a bad thing.

“We were excited when we had the initial group of folks that went in and we were happy with the two finalists. Both of them were juggernauts. It’s not like we had one junk one amongst the offerors, so I think we should be even more excited that now we can press forward with (AHDP). I think it’s going to be good. The public is going to get good value for this. I think it’s actually a very good evolution that we are seeing now,” Wakai said.

If AHDP is able to submit a compliant proposal and is selected as the master developer in the coming months, the state and AHDP will enter into a nine-month negotiation period that will conclude in summer of 2025. However, if those stipulations are not met, the procurement process would reset and the whole process would have to start from the very beginning.

The state started the initial process of selecting a new developer in March of 2020 before the old stadium was condemned. Back then, the initial plan was to open the new stadium in 2023. The timeline has shifted since then until the 2028 opening date, which has been the target since May 2023.

“It’s imperative for us and AHDP to work closely together to ensure that they submit a proposal that is in the best interest of both parties, both AHDP and for the state,” Morioka said.

NASED update: Stadium Authority board meeting June 2024

New Aloha Stadium still on track for 2028 despite developmental group’s withdrawal from RFP process

 

New Aloha Stadium still on track for 2028 despite developmental group’s withdrawal from RFP process

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED JUNE 21, 2024

HONOLULU — One of two developmental teams that were listed as “priority-listed offerers” for the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District (NASED) project withdrew its name from the bidders of two finalists Friday afternoon.

Waiola Development Partners (WDP) — a consortium that includes EllisDon Capital, Inc., BSC Acquistions II, LLC, and Kobayashi Group LLC as lead equity members — has withdrawn from the Request for Proposals (RFP) process, the State of Hawai’i Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) and the Aloha Stadium Authority announced in a press release.

The press release states that this does not affect the ongoing RFP process and the new Aloha Stadium continues to be on track to open for the 2028 University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors’ football season against Kansas.

“The RFP was designed to accommodate the possibility of having one offeror, and this withdrawal will not affect the ongoing RFP process,” said Brennon Morioka, Stadium Authority chair. “We are on track to meet all of the RFP milestones, and we look forward to welcoming UH football and the community back to Aloha Stadium in 2028.”

This clears the way for Aloha Halawa District Partners (ADHP), the other team that was listed as a finalist, to be the one to potentially become the master developer of the 98-acre NASED project in Halawa.

“The procurement process continues as planned, albeit with one priority-listed offeror, Aloha Halawa District Partners (ADHP),” said Keith Regan, comptroller, DAGS. 

Regan also said that ADHP will still be required to submit a proposal — a detailed plan on how everything will be done — in accordance with the RFP that will be required to meet prescribed standards and requirements and demonstrate value to the state. If it does, then ADHP will be named as the “preferred offerer” and invited to participate in the Diligence and Discussion Phase, where ADHP will be required to demonstrate that its proposal delivers value to the state and meet the project’s goals.

“We are confident that the final selection and agreement will ensure that the NASED project will be developed in the best interests of the state, the community, and Hawai’i taxpayers,” said Regan. “The NASED team looks forward to working with ADHP to deliver a successful project.”

ADHP includes Development Ventures Group, Inc., Stanford Carr Development, LLC, Ameresco, Inc., and Aloha Stadium Community Development, LLC (The Cordish Company) as lead equity members.

Other companies that are a part of ADHP that will help design, construct, operate and maintain the new 25,000-seat stadium with 4,500 units of housing and other amenities include RMA Architects, Populous, SB Architects, Henning Larsen, Alakea Design Group, and WCIT Architects as the design team; Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, Inc. and AECOM Hunt as the construction team; and Castle & Cooke Hawaii and Wilson Okamoto Corp as other team members.

The press release also said that the NASED team will continue to move forward with the proposals phase and its deadline this summer, with final execution of an agreement targeted for summer 2025.

University of Hawai’i athletic director Craig Angelos was optimistic about the process for the new Aloha Stadium when he joined “Wake Up in the Den” in the Hawai’i Sports Radio Network studios Wednesday and affirmed that T.C. Ching Field on the school’s lower campus is just a temporary home for the Rainbow Warriors.

“That whole stadium is a temporary stadium. It’s designed to be temporary,” said Angelos. “If it was every something that we had to stay in for our whole career, we’d probably have to take it down and rebuild it back up because it is temporary.” 

Angelos added that moving the Hawai’i football team back to Halawa will allow for more facilities for the program.

“I’m hoping that it will because that will also free up land on our camps to do a (student-athlete) performance center and to have football practice fields and things like that that we can use 365 days a year,” he said.

The Hawai’i athletic director noted there isn’t much space on lower campus and that the football team currently has to share their lone field with intramural and marching band practice, which is “unheard of at the FBS level.”

The state legislature already committed $400 million to the NASED project budget in 2022, but the eventual master developer must front the rest of the cost in exchange for exclusive rights.

There was also a bill that was moving in the State House this past legislation to make the stadium on the university campus’ permanent with using previous funds set aside for NASED to go towards higher-than-expected Maui wildfire recovery costs, but it died in the State Senate shortly after it crossed over on March 7.

Major publication predicts Hawai’i football continues upward trajectory in 2024

Major publication predicts Hawai’i football continues upward trajectory in 2024

 

Major publication predicts Hawai’i football continues upward trajectory in 2024

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED JUNE 12, 2024

The Hawai’i football team could be bowl-bound this season, wrote Phil Steele in his annual college football preview magazine that was released Wednesday.

Steele, who has published his magazine since 1995, writes that the 2024 squad is third-year head coach Timmy Chang’s “best squad yet” and that the Rainbow Warriors will “flirt with a bowl bid.”

Seven Hawai’i players were named to Steele’s preseason Mountain West teams. Three Rainbow Warriors were named to the second team in receiver Pofele Ashlock, offensive tackle Luke Felix-Fualalo and linebacker Jalen Smith.

Defensive tackle Ezra Evaimalo and cornerback Cam Stone were named to the third team. Stone also received a mention on the fourth team as a kick returner with quarterback Brayden Schager and guard Sergio Muasau rounding out the honorees.

Steele noted that Hawai’i made improvements in 2023 after a 3-10 season as the Rainbow Warriors reduced their turnovers by 10 and recorded five wins. He also wrote “coaches usually have a solid third year” and that Hawai’i has just three conference road games, which favors Chang and company.

Quarterbacks is the top position group for Hawai’i in Steele’s projections, rating the unit as the second best in the Mountain West. The return of Schager after a brief stint in the transfer portal and the addition of Micah Alejado and the development of John-Keawe Sagapolutele bolsters the quarterback room.

Receiver and linebackers are the next best unit with both groups getting rated third in the Mountain West. The receiving corps are loaded with returnees Ashlock, Steven McBride, Koali Nishigaya to name a few. Hawai’i returns Smith, Logan Taylor and Elijah Palmer at linebacker to lead that position group.

The Rainbow Warriors’ lowest rated position groups are at running back and at special teams where they are graded as the 11th-best units in a 12-team conference. Tylan Hines would have had the most experience at running back, but is moving to receiver in 2024. Last year’s starting kicker Matthew Shipley was lost to the transfer portal as newcomers Kai Kluth and Kansei Matsuzawa will battle for the job.

Campbell’s Kernaghan joins Hawai’i Football class of 2025 recruiting class

Campbell’s Kernaghan joins Hawai’i Football class of 2025 recruiting class

 

Campbell’s Kernaghan joins Hawai’i Football class of 2025 recruiting class

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED JUNE 10, 2024

Make that another local boy staying home to play for the Braddahhood.

Campbell offensive tackle Jordan Kernaghan gave a verbal commitment on his social media platforms to play for the Hawai’i football team Sunday evening. 

This makes Kernaghan the sixth player from the class of 2025 to commit to the Rainbow Warriors, joining a class that includes linebackers Aisiah Paogofie and Zaden Mariteragi, receivers Brandon Gaea and Titan Lacaden and offensive lineman KJ Hallums. Paogofie and Kernaghan are high school teammates.

The 6-foot-4, 287-pound Kernaghan started at left tackle for a Campbell squad that finished third in the OIA Open Division, the highest tier in Hawai’i prep football.

Hawai’i Football associate head coach Chris Brown joins ‘Wake Up in the Den with Ku’ulei Agbayani’

Hawai’i Football associate head coach Chris Brown joins ‘Wake Up in the Den with Ku’ulei Agbayani’

Hawai’i Football associate head coach Chris Brown joins ‘Wake Up in the Den with Ku’ulei Agbayani’

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JUNE 6, 2024

HONOLULU A year in the making, the “Lion’s Den” leader finally joined “Wake Up in the Den” on Thursday morning. 

University of Hawai’i associate head coach Chris Brown joined the weekday morning show for a walk down memory lane, discussing the Damien Monarchs days – the greatest school in Kalihi, Brown said smiling – before heading off to play for the home school, starring for June Jones and the ‘Bows during the greatest single-season turnaround in NCAA Football history. 

Following a successful four-year career at Hawai’i, Brown discussed signing as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens. While in Baltimore, the Kahalu’u product crossed paths with a character that would not only leave an imprint on his professional career but also join up with him down the line on the ‘Bows coaching staff. 

“I never forgot meeting [Coach Dennis Thurman with the Ravens], him asking me every day – he used to call me “Hawai’i” and would say ‘Hey Hawai’i, how you doing? How’s the family?’ and then he would ask me if [I needed any help with the playbook],” Brown shared of his first meeting with the new UH defensive coordinator. “When [UH’s defensive coordinator job opened up], his name was one of the candidates and I saw that and my ears perked … [when I was interviewing him on the phone], I told him that I never forgot the times when [he] checked on me, helped me, asked me if I was okay … long story short, two days later, we hired him as the defensive coordinator.” 

Following the bottom of the hour break, the crew shifts the conversation to Brown’s career on the sidelines after his NFL stint. The standout linebacker turned in his helmet for a coaching hat and joined the Saint Louis football program as a junior varsity coach. After excelling there, Brown joined the varsity Crusaders coaching staff where he helped see the program through a boom of success during the Marcus Mariota and Tua Tagovalioa era for Saint Louis. 

The journey pivoted to the continent, where national high school football powerhouse Bishop Gorman came calling for the young man from Kahalu’u to instill the culture of the “Lion’s Den” into the program. He spent seven seasons in Las Vegas, winning five state titles, before good friend and former teammate Timmy Chang came calling to bring Brown home. 

“I knew in my heart that coming back to coach [at Hawai’i] was my dream. To come back and to give back to a school that gave us so much, it was [mine and Timmy’s] turn to come back and build this thing back up again,” Brown said of the difficult decision to leave his role of associate head coach at Bishop Gorman. 

Since putting back on the Warrior Green, Brown has brought nine of those Bishop Gorman players in to help re-energize the program as the ‘Bows enter a critical third season under Chang. The expectation to perform is not just coming from the outside though.  

“These boys are so hungry to win games that they can taste it,” Brown said of the players as the team enters year three of the Chang era. “Now they have to learn how to win. Once they learn how to win and this becomes a constant thing, they’re going to take it over. Now’s the time that we feel they are ready to do it and it’s really exciting to see how they hold themselves accountable now and how the standard has just changed.” 

You can catch ‘Wake Up in The Den with Ku’ulei Agbayani’ live every weekday morning from 8-9 a.m. HT on 95.1 FM, AM 760 and streaming on hawaiisportsradio.com. The show is available after recording where most podcasts are, along with past OIA and HPU broadcasts and older interviews. 

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