These days if a guy is a player he will be found, wherever he is.
But how do you really know he’s a player if his team hardly plays?
Offensive lineman Mo Unutoa of the Kapaa Warriors was born with the gift of DNA from a father, Morris, who played in the National Football League. Mo is now a senior and listed at 6-feet-5 and 280 pounds, with plenty of athleticism and plenty of room for more good weight on his frame.
And don’t forget a stellar 3.8 grade-point-average.
All of that makes him a Division I college football prospect. But how much of one?
It’s hard to tell from game video — because while the Warriors are 4-0, the record is against non-league opponents Maui and Lahainaluna and fellow Kauai Interscholastic Federation members Waimea and Kauai — gritty programs, but not quite the murderers row of Hawaii high school football.
Unfortunately we won’t get to see how Unutoa would fare against the biggest and best defensive linemen in the state in actual games.
“You’re basically just playing the other two schools and then the rest of the time you’re watching football on TV,” said Dan Ahuna, who grew up on Kauai and represents the island as an OHA trustee.
Unutoa does have plenty of Division I offers, though, with the most interest coming from BYU, Hawaii, Oregon State, UNLV and Utah.
“It’s tough. You definitely don’t get a lot of game experience since there’s only three teams (on Kauai),” he said.
He drew notice last summer at the GPA camp on Oahu and the All-Poly camp in Utah. And it didn’t hurt that he led Kapaa to the Division II state tournament championship game last year.
Unutoa has another opportunity coming his way, one that could help him prove that he’s not only among the state’s best but beyond.
He was announced Thursday among the first batch of players committed to play in the inaugural Polynesian Bowl, which will be held at Aloha Stadium on Jan. 21 … about two weeks before National Letter of Intent day. It will feature some of the most talented and highly touted prospects in the country, not only Polynesians.
Most of the 30 players announced Thursday are on somebody’s ranking list and consensus four-star prospects. A couple of them — Alabama quarterback commit Tua Tagovailoa from Saint Louis School and Iowa defensive end pledge AJ Epenesa from Edwardsville, Ill. — even have five stars from a rating service.
Unutoa has three stars from just one service, Rivals. But the star system is far from an exact science, especially when there’s not that much information with which to work.
“We don’t have five-star exposure. Mo is the perfect example of the kind of guy this game can really help,” said Ahuna, who is on the steering committee of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, which is staging the event. “For me, the goal is to get them into college.”
Like I said earlier, Unutoa has a lot of things going for him. Another is one of the Kapaa coaches, Mike Tresler, was one of the best college football players ever to come out of Kauai.
And the more coaches get to know him, the more they will like Unutoa’s sense of loyalty. It’s one of the reasons he didn’t move to Oahu and play at one of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu powerhouses. Saint Louis asked about him. And his mother is a Kamehameha graduate.
“Since middle school (his teammates have) been close,” Unutoa said. “We wanted to be the first (Kapaa team) to go to states. Now we just gotta come out of it with the win next time.”
Reach Dave Reardon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 529-4783. His blog is at Hawaiiwarriorworld.com/quick-reads.