January 24, 2012

Decision on deck for Kamana

West Point is a long way from home for Honolulu Punahou safety Tim Kamana, but playing college football on the mainland is nothing new for the Kamana family.

Tim's father, Carter Kamana, was a defensive back at Michigan State from 1981 to 1984.

His uncle, John Kamana, was a running back at USC from 1980 to 1983.

"My wife (Heidi) and I tell our kids that Hawaii will always be here, and they should experience something new," Carter Kamana said. "They can always come back to Hawaii after college."

Kamana, a 5-foot-11, 180-pounder, is taking his parents' advice.

Last week he made an official visit to West Point along with his parents. Army is his only offer, but he also has interest from Michigan State as a preferred walk-on.

I liked everything about the Army trip.

- Safety prospect, Tim Kamana

"I liked everything about the Army trip," Tim Kamana said. "The facilities are top notch. I've been on the campus of several D-I schools like Iowa and Michigan State for football camps and toured their facilities and Army's facilities are on par or better.

"I enjoyed learning about the history of West Point. I loved hanging out with the guys. I thought they were all great guys. It's like a brotherhood -- they're like family. I liked that because in Hawaii everyone knows everyone. It's a family environment."

Weber State is making a late push, and Tim said he may make a trip to the Football Championship Subdivision school in Utah.

"I really liked Army, but I want to take a little more time to think about it," Tim said. "It's a big decision, and the coaches said they want me to take time to absorb everything I learned on the trip."

The Michigan State interest comes from his father sending him to Michigan State football camps two summers. His sister, Lia, is a freshman at Michigan State.

Army head coach Rich Ellerson, a Hawaii defensive coordinator from 1987-91, learned about Kamana through his Hawaii ties.

One reason Kamana has been lightly recruited is he missed his junior season with a broken leg and thus didn't have video highlights to send to schools.

But despite Kamana missing his junior year, he is coming off a strong senior season. He earned first-team All-Interscholastic League of Honolulu honors and helped Punahou to an 11-2 record and state runner-up finish.

"It was a rough experience because I had never missed time being hurt," Kamana said. "But I had earned the starting job before I got hurt and that helped me with leadership. I was kind of like a extra coach on the sideline during the season. I could give the guys pointers about what they were seeing and what I was seeing because I had been in those positions."

Carter Kamana describes his son this way: "He's aggressive and has great speed - that's the feedback we get from schools. He has good breaking speed and a natural feel for the game. With the scheme he played in high school, he was involved in a lot of the reads and coverages and was like a quarterback in the secondary."

Despite the Kamana family's ties to Michigan State, Carter said he and his wife enjoyed the trip to West Point.

"We were a little apprehensive at first, but we came away very impressed," Carter said. "The fathers tended to talk together and the wives tended to talk together. My wife said the wives liked how it's more than about football. We think that fits Tim.

"We also liked how Coach Ellerson tells the kids he wants them to go home and think about it before they commit. At most schools, they're trying to get you to commit before you leave on Sunday."

Punahou is a prestigious school in Honolulu that is the alma mater of President Barack Obama.

Carter Kamana attended Honolulu Kamehameha, but John Kamana attended Punahou at the same time as a Punahou basketball player who at the time went by Barry Obama.

"Oh, yeah, we knew Barry," Carter said.

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