In an early signing day surprise, the University of Hawaii has landed highly touted Kamehameha pass-rusher Jonah Kahahawai-Welch.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound outside linebacker prospect that played as a defensive end for the Warriors announced his commitment and signed his national letter of intent Wednesday morning with KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello.
“I really prayed on it and thought about it a lot the past couple of weeks, and I felt staying home is my calling and especially to play in front of my family. You can’t really get anything like that anywhere else,” said Kahahawai-Welch.
In November, Welch, who watched the U.S. Naval Academy beat Southern Methodist University on a recruiting visit, committed to the Midshipmen. However on Tuesday, he announced that he was de-committing from Navy and re-opening his recruitment.
Kahahawai-Welch, who took a recruiting visit to Manoa this past weekend, was overwhelmed by the optimism with the team and wanted to be part of the return to glory for the home team.
Anticipating to compete at the outside linebacker position, he was a finalist for the Cover2 Manti Teo Award as Hawaii defensive player of the year and is ranked by 247Sports.com as the second-best collegiate prospect in the state behind the winner of the Teo award, Kanai Mauga of Waianae, who will be signing with USC.
Kahahawai-Welch has committed to play in the 2018 Polynesian Bowl on Jan. 20, 2018 at Aloha Stadium.
He will be one of at least three members of the UH recruiting class to represent the Rainbow Warriors in the all-star game.
Saint Louis quarterback and Cover2 Marcus Mariota Award winner Chevan Cordeiro and Crusaders cornerback Kai Kaneshiro are also committed to the game, and signed their letters of intent Wednesday morning with the ‘Bows.
“We want to be that group of boys to make that change and bring back the culture to Hawaii, and really that’s the main and biggest thing,” said Welch.