Polynesian Bowl: Programs that should be pleased
HONOLULU -- The fourth annual Polynesian Bowl took place Saturday night at historic Aloha Stadium. And while most of the football world was sleeping, plenty of noteworthy action took place on the field. Rivals.com Southeast Recruiting Analyst Woody Wommack was on hand and breaks down the five schools that should be pleased after the game and the week of action as a whole.
The Tigers only had one signee in the game, but it was five-star quarterback D.J. Uiagelelei. The top-ranked quarterback in the nation didn’t show up until the middle of the week but he never skipped a beat, impressing during practice and then doing it again during the game. Uiagelelei is a five-star for a reason and his consistent poise combined with his elite skill set makes for an easy comparison to other Clemson quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence. With the recent news of Chase Brice’s entrance into the transfer portal, Uiagelelei continuing to impress at national events should only help ease any concerns about his ability to step in as Lawrence’s backup from Day 1. Uiagelelei finished the game 10-of-21 for 125 yards and showed an impressive ability to extend plays and make extraordinary throws when it looked like passing windows were closed and he was under pressure.
The Irish had six signees playing in the game, highlighted by Rivals100 running back Chris Tyree. The explosive playmaker was quiet during the week, but impressed when the lights came on Saturday. He finished the game with 40 yards, leading all rushers, and showed good vision and a nice burst when he hit the hole. When he arrives in South Bend he will have to contend with four-star Notre Dame defensive tackle signee Aidan Keanaaina, who was a load for offensive linemen to handle all week. Add in solid performance by Irish tight end signee Kevin Bauman throughout the week and Notre Dame fans have plenty to be excited about. Bauman had a great game on Saturday as well, catching four passes for 38 yards, and the pairing of him and signee Michael Mayer will create matchup problems for Irish opponents over the next few years.
With eight commits playing in the game it would be pretty tough for Oregon fans to not come away happy from Saturday’s game. But the future Ducks weren’t just participants, they were making plays all over the field. Five-star linebackers Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe were all over the field, including Sewell spending some time at running back, and less-heralded recruits like defensive tackle signee Maceal Afaese also helped their stock with a good week of practice. The one guy who really caught my attention was defensive back signee Dontae Manning. Despite being a cornerback, a position known for big personalities, Manning doesn’t say much and instead lets his game do the talking. After impressing all week in practice, Manning did it again in the game and should slide in nicely on Oregon’s depth chart in 2020. The one moment of concern for Ducks fans came in the third quarter when Sewell suffered an injury, the extent of which is unknown.
Another team with just one signee in the game, the Aggies have a big reason to celebrate thanks to the showing by five-star wide receiver Demond Demas. After missing his entire senior season after being declared ineligible, Demas made his long-awaited return the gridiron on Saturday night. He didn’t take long to make himself known, flipping out of the tunnel during pregame warmups and then wowing the crowd with an incredible touchdown where he took a short pass and ran basically the entire width of the field for a score. Demas also scored another deep touchdown in the first half that was called back for holding. After a week that saw him go viral for a goal post dunk during practice and then some big plays in the game, Texas A&M fans and coaches alike should be drooling over potential. The one knock on Demas is his proclivity to take some plays off and not finish his routes, but it’s hard to say if that had to do more with the loose all-star game setting as opposed to his personal motivation.
It’s been a tough stretch for Washington State as the program lost long-time head coach Mike Leach after the coaching carousel had essentially stopped spinning. Things started to turn around this week, though, after long-time Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich was hired to fill Leach’s shoes. Hiring Rolovich also helped save the signature of four-star quarterback Jayden DeLaura, who had been considering reopening his recruitment. Now it’s clear that the Cougars have their new coach, and potentially their new star of the future in DeLaura. While he’s a bit of a gambler at times, and that led to him throwing an interception during the game, DeLaura just has the “it” factor at the position and Cougars fans should immediately love the excitement he brings to every play. He finished the game 9-of-10 for 139 yards and showed great arm strength and accuracy during the week as a whole.