UH signees, other of nation's top players gather for Polynesian Bowl

Jan. 19—Isaac Maugaleoo has never been in one place long enough to get homesick.

Isaac Maugaleoo has never been in one place long enough to get homesick.

The 6-foot-7, 300-pound offensive lineman, who was born in California, raised in Florida and spent time in Las Vegas, has made Hawaii his next warm-weather destination for the foreseeable future.

After moving to Oahu to play for his uncle at Campbell in his senior year of high school, Maugaleoo signed to play with the University of Hawaii last month, making Friday's Polynesian Bowl not the last of his one year here, but the beginning of hopefully something special.

"The goal was to go to college for free and now that's what happened, " Maugaleoo said after Wednesday's Polynesian Bowl practice wrapped up at Kunuiakea Stadium on the Kamehameha campus. "I like it out here. Just look at it, " he said motioning to the view of the downtown Honolulu skyline.

Maugaleoo is one of 26 players UH announced as part of its early signing class in December.

Three of them are playing in the Polynesian Bowl. Maugaleoo is joined on Team Mauka by Punahou quarterback John-Keawe Sagapolutele and Vaifanua Peko, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound safety from America Samoa.

Mililani senior Ezekiel Rodrigues, a 6-foot, 175-pound defensive back who announced his commitment to UH over the weekend, is on Team Makai.

Maugaleoo, who was also offered by San Diego State, blocked for Sagapolutele's younger brother, Jaron-Keawe, this past season for the Sabers.

One day, he could potentially be doing the same for his older brother wearing a UH uniform.

"They're like family pretty much, " Maugaleoo said of the Sagapoluteles. "They took me in as their own."

John-Keawe Sagapolutele, who was named the Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State first-team quarterback earlier this month, took reps at quarterback on Wednesday with teammates Kekahi Graham of Saint Louis and Warren (Calif.) five-star Tennessee signee Nicholaus Iamaleava.

Iamaleava, who is 6 feet 5, is the top-ranked player in the game at No. 3 overall by 247Sports.

"I never thought that I would be able to meet a lot of the five-stars and guys I could only dream of meeting, " Sagapolutele said. "Me and Nico are out here helping each other out, letting each other know what we see when we're off the field."

Sagapolutele had plenty of help on the offensive line this past season at Punahou, with three of his five starters making the All-State second-and third-teams.

Getting to throw behind Maugaleoo, a second-team All-State pick, is something he's thought about doing one day in college.

"He would come over to my house sometimes and we'd get to know each other, " Sagapolutele said of their friendship. "Hopefully he can be right there and we can be on the field together at the same time."

Now in its seventh edition, the Polynesian Bowl high school all-star game has gotten better every year with more and more of the top talent in the country electing to play in this game instead of others.

Five of the top 10-ranked senior recruits in the country according to 247Sports are in the game, including USC signees Malachi Nelson at quarterback and Zachariah Branch at receiver.

Eighteen states and American Samoa are represented with 52 of the 96 players of Polynesian ancestry.

Kahuku, which finished off its second consecutive Hawaii Open Division state championship in the fall, has eight players in the game, the most of any school.

Bishop Gorman (Nev.) is next with six, followed by five from Saint Louis.

Friday's game will be broadcast live to the East Coast in prime time on the NFL Network for the first time starting at 4 p.m. Hawaii time.