New year, same struggle for Hawaii and head coach Norm Chow. As it turns out, convincing good football players to attend college on a tropical island tough. Always has been. The struggle is nothing new.
The latest pitch will go to Kahuku High School defensive end Lamone Williams, who currently holds five scholarship offers. Four are from schools on the mainland. The other is from his home-state program. Already, though, the thought of leaving paradise in the rearview is creeping in to his mind.
"I'm looking to get out," Williams said on Monday night. "But I know when it comes down to it, I really have to think about it. I guess I'm 50-50 right now."
So far, Washington State, Wisconsin, Nevada and Utah have offered to help the 2014 prospect get off of the island. He has scholarship offers from all four. And, by the time he's done with his senior season, more opportunities may appear.
"There are a few schools with new interest," Williams said. "Coaches have been reaching out and asking for some more information. Colorado talks to me a lot and a coach from Boise State recently."
While Williams admits that escaping his home state is appealing, he's uncertain which college campus he'd like to escape to if he decides to make the move to the mainland. He's weighing his options and is in the process of setting visits, but he can only shrug when asked to name a frontrunner.
"I don't really have a favorite," Williams said. "I just see it as an opportunity. I'm trying not to lean toward one right now but I want to have a top three by the end of my season."
Williams plans to take all five official visits before naming his top three or making a verbal commitment. His trips don't have dates for the time being, but some programs are pushing harder than other. Two programs stand out as the schools that are pursuing him the hardest, and one the local institution.
Despite what history says, Chow and Hawaii are nothing if not persistent.
"Probably Hawaii and Washington State have been recruiting me the hardest," Williams said. "We've been talking about visits and all that stuff. Hawaii is just, like, an hour away. The ones on the mainland are the hard ones."
Hawaii's campus is somewhat familiar to Williams. He knows what the program has to offer and the type of football it plays. The Cougars, on the other hand, are, at least in his mind, exotic. And Williams likes what he's discovered so far.
"I know Washington Sate have a lot of good facilities and they're trying to rebuild the program again," he said. "They really want me to be a part of that. That's what they've been pushing toward me."