Rainbow Warriors ink 24 in 2014 class

Hawaiian Airlines field at Aloha Stadium

HONOLULU – University of Hawai’i head football coach Norm Chow announced the Rainbow Warriors’ 2014 signing class Wednesday. Chow and his coaching staff secured commitments from 24 high school and junior college prospects and transfers.

Among the recruiting class are 18 prep standouts, four junior college transfers, and two FBS transfers. The class features seven hometown prospects from the state of Hawai’i, eight from California, two each from and Florida and Louisiana, and one each from Arizona, Maryland, North Carolina, Utah, and Texas. The position breakdown is seven defensive backs, five linebackers, five wide receivers, four defensive linemen, one offensive lineman, one running back, and one tight end.

Included in this list are two FBS transfers – Jeremy Castro (UCLA) and Quinton Pedroza (Utah) – and two mid-year transfers – Luke Shawley (San Diego Mesa JC) and Tui Unga (Rancho Cucamonga HS), all of whom are already enrolled in school.

“We feel really good about this class, for the first time since I’ve been here we were able to recruit to specific needs which was primarily on the defensive side of the ball, rush end, linebackers, and corners,” Chow said. “We felt we are really young offensively so we targeted the defense in this class given the guys we lost last year.”

Sixteen of the 24 signees were on defense. The seven defensive backs include two JUCO cornerbacks – Cesar Fermin (Moorpark College) and Jalen Rogers (Mesa JC) – and five freshmen. UH signed nine players on the front seven, primarily seeking rush ends and linebackers to compliment new defensive coordinator Kevin Clune’s defensive scheme. Linebackers Simon Poti (Fullerton College) and Malachi Mageo (Serra HS) were heavily recruited while defensive lineman Ka’au Gifford (Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama) was rated a Top 10 prospect in the state of Hawai’i.

“I thought we did a terrific job with local recruiting,” Chow said. “There are a lot of good football players in the state of Hawai’i, which is why so many coaches recruit here. We were able to secure most of the ones we targeted this year and we feel we got some good ones.”

Among the state’s other Top 10 recruits include wide receiver Devan Stubblefield (Saint Louis) and tight end Dakota Torres (Punahou), who were rated No. 6 and No. 8, respectively, according to various scouting services. Running back DJ Riggins, out of Oaks Christian High School, was highly-rated in the state of California while wide receiver Darrian Josey, is a speedster from Boynton Beach, Fla., and is among the state of Florida’s top sprinters.

With Josey and defensive lineman Marquis Fairchild (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), the Warriors continued their pipeline with the state of Florida. Last season, UH’s roster included seven Floridians, three of whom were regulars in the starting lineup. Hawai’i inked two prospects from the state of Louisiana – cornerback Jerrell Jackson (Haynesville, La.) and safety Daniel Lewis (New Iberia) and one from Maryland, cornerback Nick Nelson (Forestville, Md.).

2014 Signing Class

Player Name POS HT WT CL Hometown / Last School
Jeremy Castro* LB 6-3 240 Fr Murrietta, CA / UCLA
Tavita “Tui” Eli OL 6-4 290 Fr Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i / Kealakehe HS
Marquis Fairchild DL 6-3 240 Fr Fort Lauderdale, FL / Chaminade-Madonna HS
Cesar Fermin CB 5-10 175 Jr Arleta, CA / Moorpark College
Dayton Furuta LB 5-11 190 Fr Mililani, O’ahu / Mililani HS
Ka’au Gifford DL 6-4 270 Fr Wai’anae, O’ahu / Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama
Jerrell Jackson CB 6-0 175 Fr Haynesville, LA / Haynesville HS
Darrian Josey WR 6-0 170 Fr Boynton Beach, FL / Boynton Beach HS
Donald Lambert WR 6-1 180 Fr Honolulu, O’ahu / Moanalua HS
Daniel Lewis S 5-11 180 Fr New Iberia, LA / New Iberia HS
Malachi Mageo LB 6-3 190 Fr Carson, CA / Serra HS
Dany Mulanga S 6-3 190 Fr Bedford, TX | Trinity HS
Nick Nelson CB 5-10 175 Fr Forestville, MD / Suitland HS
Quinton Pedroza* WR 6-2 220 Jr Chino, CA / Utah
Simon Poti LB 6-1 235 Jr Fullerton, CA / Fullerton College
Mack Richards WR 6-0 190 Fr Salt Lake City, UT / Alta HS
DJ Riggins RB 5-10 175 Fr West Hills, CA / Oaks Christian HS
Jalen Rogers CB 6-1 185 So Mesa, CA / Mesa JC
Luke Shawley* DL 6-2 250 Jr Charlotte, NC / San Diego Mesa JC
Devan Stubblefield WR 5-11 185 Fr ‘Ewa Beach, O’ahu / Saint Louis School
Jahlani Tavai LB 6-3 220 Fr Redondo Beach, CA / Mira Costa HS
Dakota Torres TE 6-2 255 Fr Wai’anae, O’ahu / Punahou School
Tui Unga* DL 6-5 260 Fr Etiwanda, CA / Rancho Cucamonga HS
Manly Williams DB 6-2 180 Fr Honolulu, O’ahu / Farrington HS
* denotes already enrolled in school

Player Bios

Jeremy Castro LB 6-3 240 Fr Murrietta, CA / UCLA
Transfer from UCLA, where he enrolled in January 2013 out of Vista Murrietta High School in California…rated No. 17 weak-side defensive end nationally and No. 40 prospect in the state of California according to rivals.com…nation’s No. 21 outside linebacker by scout.com…MaxPreps Division I all-state selection…rated No. 45 defensive lineman nationally, No. 26 prospect in the CA/NV/HI region and a SuperPrep All-American…ESPN’s No. 88 player in California and No. 104 defensive end nationally…North Valley Times all-area pick…all-Riverside County selection and all-Inland Division Defensive Player of the Year…recorded 106 tackles and 11 sacks in helping Vista Murrietta win the CIF-Southern Section Inland Division title as a senior in 2011…as a junior, recorded 118 tackles, 13 sacks and three forced fumbles.

Tavita “Tui” Eli OL 6-4 290 Fr Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i / Kealakehe HS
Will graduate this spring from Kealakehe High School in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i…rated as the No. 17 prospect in the state of Hawai’i by scout.com…2013 American Family Insurance All-USA Hawai’i Football team…Honolulu Star-Advertiser honorable mention all-state as a senior…all-Big Island Interscholastic Federation first-team selection in 2012 and honorable mention pick in 2013 on the offensive line…also played on the defensive line…was born in Canada and raised in Samoa…spent freshman year in high school in Canada before enrolling at Kealakehe for his sophomore year.

Marquis Fairchild DL 6-3 240 Fr Fort Lauderdale, FL / Chaminade-Madonna HS
Will graduate this spring from Chaminade-Madonna High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla…rated as one of the state of Florida’s top defensive end prospects…ranked No. 131 defensive end nationally by 247sports…also played tight end and outside linebacker…named to all-Broward Class 5A-2A second team…a preseason all-Broward pick by the Miami Herald.

Cesar Fermin CB 5-10 175 Jr Arleta, CA / Moorpark College
Attended Moorpark Junior College for two years…tied for fourth in the Southern California Football Association and 24th in the state with four interceptions…ranked sixth in the SFCA and 10th in the state with 12 pass breakups…also recorded 37 tackles and one sack…selected to the SFCA National Division’s all-Northern Conference second team…picked as the SFCA’s Defensive Player of the Week after recording eight tackles, one sack, and two interceptions in Moorpark’s win over previously unbeaten LA Pierce College…both picks occurred during crucial points of the game, including one in the endzone…a 2009 graduate of Arleta High School in California…as a senior, played both sides of the ball…recorded 41 tackles and one interception as a defensive back and caught 11 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver…also recruited by New Mexico and New Mexico State.

Dayton Furuta LB 5-11 190 Fr Mililani, O’ahu / Mililani HS
Will graduate this spring from Mililani High School on O’ahu…named to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s all-state first team and ScoringLive All-Hawai’i Division I second team…also selected first-team all-OIA Red West in 2012 and ’13…helped Mililani to the HHSAA Division I championship game…also played running back and rushed 45 times for 260 yards and six TDs and caught four passes for 51 yards and two scores…participated in the H.U.B. Goodwill Senior Bowl…named second team all-state by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in 2012…a four-sport athlete, who also competed in wrestling, judo, and basketball…captured the OIA wrestling championship as a junior in 2013 and placed fifth in the 215-pound division at the HHSAA state meet…placed fifth at the state meet in 2012 in the 189-pound division…in judo, finished third at the HHSAA Championships in the 198-pound division in 2011 and ’12 and was runner-up in 2013 in the 220-pound division.

Ka’au Gifford DL 6-4 270 Fr Wai’anae, O’ahu / Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama
Will graduate this spring from Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama on O’ahu…rated as the No. 116 defensive tackle nationally by Rivals.com…also rated as the No. 10 prospect in the state by 247Sports and No. 11 by scout.com…2013 American Family Insurance All-USA Hawai’i Football team…third-team all-state by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and honorable mention All-Hawai’i Division I by ScoringLive…named second-team all-ILH.

Jerrell Jackson CB 6-0 175 Fr Haynesville, LA / Haynesville HS
Will graduate this spring from Haynesville High School in Louisiana…rated as the No. 54 prospect in the state of Louisiana by 247sports…ranked as the No. 114 safety nationally by 247sports…played quarterback, safety, receiver, and returner in high school…named first-team Class 1A all-state as a defensive back and led Haynesville to the state championship and undefeated season as a senior…also selected to the all-District 1-1A first team…recorded 37 tackles and six interceptions…earned defensive backs MVP honors at the VTO Sports NFL Prep 100 and was one of the top players at the NUC 5 Star…as a junior, named honorable mention Class 1A all-state after leading Haynesville to the state championship game…selected as the District 1-1A co-Offensive Most Valuable Player and was named to the all-district first team at both quarterback and defensive back…rushed for over 800 yards and 15 TDs and recorded seven interceptions and two TDs…also returned two kickoffs and three punts for scores…also recruited by San Diego State.

Darrian Josey WR 6-0 170 Fr Boynton Beach, FL / Boynton Beach HS
Will graduate this spring from Boynton Beach High School in Florida…rated as the No. 55 player in the Sun-Sentinel Class of 2014 ranking of Palm Beach County…led Boynton Beach with 23 catches for 584 yards and 10 TDs as a senior…ranked No. 18 in the Prep Builders HOT 25 list…caught four passes for 206 yards and two scores against eventual Class 6A state champion Miami Central in the first round of the state playoffs…participated in the Florida-Georgia All-Star game…during his junior year, recorded 17 catches for 315 yards and nine TDs…a standout track and field sprinter, who captured the 100-meter dash in 10.95 seconds at the 2013 conference meet…placed third in the district finals and fifth in the region…ran the anchor leg of the 4×100-meter relay team which won the district meet.…also recruited by Western Kentucky, Marshall, Akron, Florida Atlantic, and Florida International.

Donald Lambert WR 6-1 180 Fr Honolulu, O’ahu / Moanalua HS
Will graduate this spring from Moanalua High School in Honolulu…named second-team all-state by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and honorable mention all-Hawai’i Division I by ScoringLive…a first-team all-OIA Red East pick in 2012 and ’13…as a senior, finished with 51 catches for 660 yards and eight TDs…averaged 12.9 yards per catch and 73.3 yards per game…ranked seventh in the state in receiving yards…had 10 catches for 177 yards and one TD against Farrington…caught three TD passes and had 103 receiving yards on seven receptions against Kaimuki…participated in the H.U.B. Goodwill Senior Bowl…earned honorable mention all-state honors by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in 2012…had 35 catches for 537 yards and nine TDs…season-high 144 yards on seven receptions and three scores against McKinley…also caught three TDs against Castle, which he had seven catches for 102 yards…also recruited by Portland State.

Daniel Lewis S 5-11 180 Fr New Iberia, LA / New Iberia HS
Will graduate this spring from New Iberia High School in Louisiana…rated as the No. 106 cornerback nationally by 247sports and No. 132 by scout.com…ranked as the No. 56 prospect in the state of Louisiana…selected as No. 43 in The Times-Picayune’s Nifty 50 Class of 2014 rankings…played both cornerback and running back…named Class 5A all-state honorable mention as a defensive back…rushed for 265 yards and two TDs against Sam Houston…participated in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association East-West All-Star game…ranked No. 32 in The Times-Picayune’s Fantastic 40 preseason rankings…as a junior, selected to the District 7-5A second team as a defensive back…also recruited by Tulane, Louisiana-Lafayette, Memphis, Southern Miss, and Louisiana Tech.

Malachi Mageo LB 6-3 190 Fr Carson, CA / Serra HS
A 2012 graduate of Serra High School in Gardena, Calif…selected to all-CIF Southern Section Western Division first team and first-team all-Mission League…recorded 115 tackles, including 21.0 for loss, three sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery as a senior…returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown in a CIF-SS Division II regional game…a preseason all-South Bay/Long Beach second team pick…participated in the #D1Bound Senior Bowl…had 70 tackles, including seven for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and one fumble forced as a junior…helped Serra to the CIF Division II championship and named second team all-league in 2012…recruited out of high school by Boise State, Washington, and Utah.

Dany Mulanga S 6-3 190 Fr Bedford, TX | Trinity HS
Will graduate this spring from Trinity High School in Texas…rated as the No. 158 safety nationally by 247sports…a Texas Associated Press Sports Editors Class 5-A all-state honorable mention…earned second-team Star-Telegram Super Team honors…named all-District 6-5A first team and all-VYPE Greater Fort Worth second team…finished with 75 tackles, four interceptions, and 12 pass breakups…helped Trinity to the Class 5-A Division I regional final game…as a junior, named second-team all-district as a linebacker and helped Trinity to the regional semifinals…also recruited by Utah State, New Mexico, and Louisiana Tech.

Nick Nelson CB 5-10 175 Fr Forestville, MD / Suitland HS
Will graduate this spring from Suitland High School in Maryland…rated as the No. 42 prospect in the state of Maryland and No. 169 cornerback nationally by 247sports…played both wide receiver and defensive back…helped Suitland to a Class 4A runner-up state finish…named all-state honorable mention and 4A League all-county first team as a receiver…was the team’s second leading receiver with 20 catches for 503 yards and five TDs…also recruited by Rutgers and Temple.

Quinton Pedroza WR 6-2 220 Jr Chino, CA / Utah
Transfer from the University of Utah…played two seasons for the Utes as a back-up wide receiver…played in seven games, mostly on special teams, and finished with two tackles in 2012…saw time at receiver in three games…played in seven of the final eight games of the 2011 season, and made his first appearance against Pittsburgh…returned one kickoff for 23 yards against UCLA….a 2010 graduate of Chino High School in California…named the league’s MVP in his only year of playing high school football…played receiver, safety, and return specialist…selected all-conference, all-Valley, and all-San Bernardino County…set single-season school records for receptions (54), receiving yards (1,078), and receiving touchdowns (16)…averaged 19.9 yards per catch…had 67 tackles and four interceptions…averaged 31.9 yards on 15 kickoff returns and 15.4 yards on eight punt returns…helped Chino to the 2010 league title and a 11-1 overall record…also lettered three years in baseball.

Simon Poti LB 6-1 235 Jr Fullerton, CA / Fullerton College
Attended Fullerton Junior College in California for two years…named first-team all-Region IV…tallied 68 total tackles, including 10.5 for loss, five sacks, one interception, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery…helped Fullerton to the Southern California Football Association title before falling to Butte in the California Community College Athletic Association’s state championship game…had six tackles, including three for loss, and two sacks against Cerritos…as a freshman in 2012, was the team’s third leading tackler with 49 tackles, including 4.0 for loss, two sacks, on interception, one fumble recovery, and two pass breakups…had a career-high 14 tackles against Saddleback…scored on a 20-yard interception return against Grossmont…a 2011 graduate of Fullerton Union High School…attended San Jose State as a walk-on, where he redshirted in 2011 before transferring to Fullerton College in 2012…a three-time first-team all-Freeway League and all-CIF Southwest Division pick at Fullerton Union…also played baseball, where he batted .338 as a senior…academic All-American.

Mack Richards WR 6-0 190 Fr salt Lake City, UT / Alta HS
Will graduate this spring from Alta High School in Utah…rated as the No. 17 prospect in the state of Utah and No. 271 wide receiver nationally by 247sports….first-team all-state selection by the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News…totaled 65 receptions for 1,089 yards and 13 TDs…also had 1,742 all-purpose yards which included two kickoff and two punt returns for touchdowns…as a junior, was named first-team all-region after recording 60 catches for 887 yards and 11 TDs…led Class 5A in punt return yardage (238), which included a 94-yard touchdown return, and was second in total returns (438), which included a 90-yard kickoff return for touchdown…also played running back and recorded three rushing TDs…totaled 1,493 all-purpose yards…as a sophomore, tallied 43 receptions for 682 yards and eight TDs…returned four punt returns for touchdowns and two kickoff returns for scores.

DJ Riggins RB 5-10 175 Fr West Hills, CA / Oaks Christian HS
Will graduate this spring from Oaks Christian High School in California…rated as the No. 92 running back nationally by scout.com…also ranked as the No. 109 prospect in the state of California and No. 73 running back nationally by 247sports…rated No. 154 in the state and No. 155 running back nationally by ESPN…ranked No. 23 player in California by Prepstar…rushed for 393 yards on 87 carries (4.5 avg.) and eight TDs…also caught 12 passes for 178 yards and two scores…earned CLA Player of the Game honors after scoring four touchdowns against Upland…participated in the B2G West Coast Bowl all-star game…selected as the running back MVP of the Rivals 300…a Nike football first-team all-underclassman…as a junior, rushed 84 times for 534 yards and nine TDs and earned all-Marmonte League honorable mention and first-team all-county honors…also had 104 yards receiving and another score…rated No. 10 running back in the Daily News Preseason All-Area team in 2012…also recruited by Fresno State and San Jose State.

Jalen Rogers CB 6-1 185 So Mesa, CA / Mesa JC
Attended Mesa Community College in Arizona for two years…redshirted in 2012…recorded 24 tackles and one interception as a freshman…a 2012 graduate of Cienega High School in Vail, Ariz…a second-team 4A Kino all-region and all-Tucson pick…The Arizona Republic honorable mention All-Arizona Division II…The Arizona Daily’s first-team all-Southern Arizona… finished with 92 tackles and two interceptions during his senior year…also caught 30 passes for 471 yards (15.7 avg) and four TDs and rushed 12 times for 159 yards (13.3 avg.) and another score…scored four defensive touchdowns… a preseason “Big 22″ selection in 2011…named 4A-I Southern Arizona all-star as a junior…also recruited by New Mexico.

Luke Shawley DL 6-2 250 Jr Charlotte, NC / San Diego Mesa JC
Attended San Diego Mesa Junior College for two years…rated as the No. 26 junior college prospect in the state of California and No. 18 strong-side defensive end nationally by 247sports…named first-team all-Region V…third in the state with 24 tackles for loss and tied for eighth with 10 sacks…also finished with 74 tackles, two fumble recoveries, and two pass breakups…recorded 15 tackles against Chaffey…had six tackles and three sacks against Glendale…as a freshman, tied for 12th in the state and led the American Conference’s Mountain Division with 17.5 tackles for loss…also tallied 48 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles…a former Navy SEAL.

Devan Stubblefield WR 5-11 185 Fr ‘Ewa Beach, O’ahu / Saint Louis School
Will graduate this spring from Saint Louis School in Honolulu…rated as the No. 6 prospect in the state of Hawai’i by ESPN and No. 9 by scout.com…also ranked as the No. 149 wide receiver nationally…Honolulu Star-Advertiser and ScoringLive all-state first team…2013 American Family Insurance All-USA Hawai’i Football team…tallied 45 catches for 861 yards and 12 TDs…averaged 18.2 yards per catch and 117.3 receiving yards per game…ranked fourth in the state in receiving yards…in the final two weeks of the season, had 11 catches for 185 yards and two TDs against Punahou and 12 catches for 223 yards and two scores against Kamehameha…participated in the H.U.B. Goodwill Senior Bowl and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after catching two touchdown passes…earned all-state honorable mention and second-team all-ILH honors in 2012…also a standout baseball player…earned second-team all-league honors as an outfielder.

Jahlani Tavai LB 6-3 220 Fr Redondo Beach, CA / Mira Costa HS
Will graduate this spring from Mira Costa High School in California…rated as the No. 305 athlete nationally by 247sports…played on the defensive line and tight end…served as team captain…named all-CIF Southern Section Northern Division first team and all-Bay League first team…had three sacks and scored on a touchdown reception in a CIF-SS Northern Division playoff game win over Highland…helped Mira Costa to a second place Bay League finish and to the quarterfinals of the Northern Division playoffs…also competed in rugby and was a member of the Mira Costa Rugby Club which finished the regular season with an 8-0 record…also competed in track and field and captured the Bay League discus title as a member of the freshman/sophomore squad in 2012…competed on the volleyball team as a junior.

Dakota Torres TE 6-2 255 Fr Wai’anae, O’ahu / Punahou School
Will graduate this spring from Punahou School in Honolulu…rated as the No. 8 prospect in the state of Hawai’i by 247sports and No. 13 by scout.com…2013 American Family Insurance All-USA Hawai’i Football team as a linebacker…named to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s all-state first team and ScoringLive’s all-Hawai’i Division I team…finished the season with 19 catches for 323 yards and four TDs…helped lead Punahou to the HHSAA Division I state title and caught four passes for 66 yards and a touchdown in the championship game…participated in the H.U.B. Goodwill Senior Bowl…honorable mention all-ILH in 2012.

Tui Unga DL 6-5 260 Fr Etiwanda, CA / Rancho Cucamonga HS
Signed with Fresno State in 2012 out of Rancho Cucamonga High School in California…did not attend Fresno State…a first-team all-Baseline League selection as a linebacker by Prep Sports Bulletin during both his junior and senior seasons…selected to all-Valley first team as a tight end…played in the Inland Empire All-Star Classic…helped lead the Cougars to an 11-2 record, a second place finish in the conference and the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Inland Division playoffs as a senior…posted 28 tackles, including a season-high nine stops in the semifinal playoff loss to Centennial High School in 2011…also had one interception and recorded a safety against Redlands East Valley…caught 20 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns as a senior…averaged 17.6 yards per catch and his longest reception went for 86 yards…as a junior, posted 44 tackles, 1.5 sacks and forced two fumbles…caught one pass for 15 yards…older brother J.J. Unga plays for the Baltimore Ravens.

Manly Williams DB 6-2 180 Fr Honolulu, O’ahu / Farrington HS
Will graduate this spring from Farrington High School in Honolulu, O’ahu…rated as the No. 5 prospect in the state of Hawai’i by scout.com and No. 9 by 247sports…also ranked as the No. 118 outside linebacker nationally by scout.com…named to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s all-state third team in 2012 and ’13…a first-team all-OIA Red East pick as a senior…recorded three interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery…helped lead Farrington to the HHSAA Division I semifinals in 2012 and ’13…participated in the H.U.B. Goodwill Senior Bowl…earned honorable mention all-OIA Red East honors in 2012…nickname is “Pumba”.

*courtesy of Hawai’i Athletics*

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