Goodbye, Aloha State

Four players continue team's longtime Hawaii connection
2007-08-14T00:00:00Z Goodbye, Aloha StateBy Ryan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 14, 2007 12:00 am  • 

Assistant coach Mike Tuiasosopo has recruited many football players from Hawaii, and all seem to have three common traits.

"They're pretty hungry, they have something to prove being so far away from home, and they have a lot of pride," he said. "It seems like they typically do pretty well here."

Without question, players from Hawaii have left an indelible mark on UA football history. From Steven Grace and Joe Siofele to the Freitas and Fraser brothers, Arizona has expertly mined the islands for 23 years.

The Wildcats were even able to lure one of Hawaii's coaches — Dick Tomey — to the mainland. Tomey took over at the UA in 1987; one of his first recruits was Stanley Mataele, an offensive lineman from Maui.

This year's Arizona team consists of four Hawaii natives — a tight end, two defensive linemen and a quarterback. Two are of Tongan descent, one is Hawaiian and the other is Caucasian.

All four have the ability to be impact players.

"I think there's always a big connection between Hawaii and the University of Arizona, going back to Coach Tomey and them," Tuiasosopo said. "There are a lot of good players there, and I think most of them want to get off the island. "

Bryson Beirne

Position: Quarterback

Year: Freshman

Hometown: Honolulu (Mid-Pacific Institute)

About Bryson: Threw for more than 3,000 yards in high school despite being slowed by injuries. Beirne was able to take a handful of trips to Tucson while in high school thanks to a great family perk: His mother works for an airline.

You look familiar: Teammates and coaches say Beirne bears a striking resemblance to starting quarterback Willie Tuitama, from facial structure down to their matching sizes. Beirne stands 6 feet 3 inches and is 214 pounds; Tuitama is listed at 6-3, 220.

"Everybody calls him my little brother," Tuitama said.

Brandyn McCall

Position: Tight end

Year: Senior

Hometown: Kailua (Mid-Pacific Institute)

About Brandyn: Received a medical hardship waiver stemming from a back injury he suffered in 2005. A Hawaii native, McCall grew up in Kailua and attended Mid-Pacific Institute, a private school in Honolulu. His mother, Brenda, works in the rental business.

Island style: McCall sports a tribal tattoo with Hawaii's flag in it along his left shoulder and biceps. "It looks like the flag is in me," McCall said, "like if you ripped away the skin the flag would be underneath."

Mana Mikaele

Position: Defensive tackle

Year: Redshirt freshman

Hometown: Honolulu (Damien High School)

About Mana: Is expected to be one of the Wildcats' top newcomers in 2007 after redshirting as a true freshman.

Did you know? Mikaele has earned the nickname Daddy because of the way he looks after his fellow Hawaiians. "I always want to make them comfortable. We're real close," he said.

Kaniela Tuipulotu

Position: Defensive tackle

Year: Freshman

Hometown: Lahaina (Kahuku High School)

About Kaniela: Expected to compete for a starting spot on the defensive line. Tuipulotu is the cousin of Luke Walton, a former UA basketball player currently with the Los Angeles Lakers. Tuipulotu's mother, Penny Guth-Tuipulotu, is the sister of Walton's mom, Susie.

Heritage: Tuipulotu's mother was a canoe racer, and his father a rugby player on Tongan and New Zealand teams. Tuipulotu's father, Taniela, now works at the famed Kapalua Resort.

Day 11, at Rincon Vista

• Highlights: The Wildcats held the second of four scheduled "double-days." Their grueling day began with stretching at 7:15 a.m., and the second practice ended when tight end Rob Gronkowski grabbed a 2-yard TD pass around 7:30 p.m. QB Kris Heavner and WR Terrell Reese looked sharp in the evening workouts. RB Chris Jennings caught a handful of short passes before taking on all comers, including DT Lionel Dotson. The UA wore "shells" — helmets, shoulder pads and shorts — during the evening workouts.

Wearing full pads, the Wildcats slogged through a sticky morning practice in wet grass and mud, the result of an early-morning watering. D'Aundre Reed had a sack during team drills, where the defense seemed to dominate. WR Derick Barkum worked out with the team for the third time. Barkum was cleared by the NCAA on Friday. Arizona has now completed 13 of its 28 permitted practices in advance of its Sept. 1 season opener with BYU.

• Vibe: The Wildcats exuded quiet focus in the evening workout. The morning practice was businesslike, with coaches stressing discipline and control during special teams and harping on blown assignments during team drills.

• He said it: "Today went real good, I thought. We've got another (two-a-day) on Wednesday, and then I think we'll go from there. We're used to it by now." — QB Willie Tuitama

— Ryan Finley

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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