One of the most rewarding parts about being a fan of any team, is the constant cycle of people that you get to meet. One of the most rewarding parts about what I do is getting to put all of that down in memoriam. Since I began working with Scout just a few months ago, already I've been able to meet more great people than at any point in my life. Even while I was at USC. Interviewing Dakota Torres today only added to that list.
Torres orally committed to the University of Hawaii a few days ago, and the excitement it generated was enough that I felt it prudent to try to get a face to face. Graduating from Punahou has its perks, not the least of which is the benefit of the doubt from Coach Kale that I wasn't just some crazy journalist digging for a scoop. He told me that I could talk to Dakota after practice, when the team was on its way from the field to a meeting. And so I milked that time for all it was worth.
Dakota was born and raised here in Hawaii and made it quite clear from the get go that he was tremendously close with his family. That, above all else, was the reason that he made the decision to orally commit so early. In talking to him, his decision was made easy after taking a few trips on the mainland over the summer (he went to San Jose State, San Diego State and UCLA.) Of the three, he said UCLA was the nicest. Still, "there's no place like home." And so, it's almost like it all fell into place for him when it came time to choose. Nice how that happens sometimes right?
Upon inquiry, he confirmed that his main position for UH will be at tight end. When taking his visit to UH, he met with both Norm as well as his future position coach Phil Rauscher, both of whom he had only positive things to say about.
"Kota" (as his mom called him) is big and raw. He's easily the height that Punahou lists him at (6 foot 2) and says that he's 240. But, for all intents and purposes, it's a malleable 240, capable of being honed and sculpted with the weight room training that will inevitably come with being a collegiate athlete.
One of the things that excited me most though, was how quickly he seemed to embrace the secondary recruiting process. Successfully building a mid-major team isn't just about hiring good recruiters, but also the word of mouth from passionate members of the team. Much like Chris Paul reaching out to people over the summer to bring them to the Clippers, Kota spoke eagerly about both people on Punahou's team who have not yet committed (Canton and Davis) and others who have (Tui). Those are the kinda guys you want. Guys who, regardless of the number of stars attached to their name, buy into the system so completely that they sell it to others for you. Hawaii has such a fantastic base of local talent that goes largely untapped because a large number of them have not, for whatever reason, gravitated towards staying. Now, with players like Tui and Kota and Micah Kapoi telling everyone that one of the things they are most excited about is helping to grow the program, maybe more will be inclined to stay. 2014 is really shaping up to be a great year.
I look forward to following him in what I can only assume will be a state-championship year for Punahou. Hopefully he'll be kind enough to talk to me as the season progresses. Until then, thank you for the time Dakota.
Oh, also, there is no relation to Richard. I did my due diligence and asked.