By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
The University of Hawaii football team has one more game to play this year – a New Mexico Bowl matchup against Houston on Christmas Eve – but the team’s coaching staff already got a jump on the 2021 season by inking seven players during yesterday’s Early Signing Day. Here are capsule looks at the new Rainbow Warriors:
JOSHUA BERTHOLOTTE, LB (FR): 247Sports ranked Bertholotte as the No. 46 prospect in the state of Louisiana. The 6-2, 210-lb. standout played for Landry-Walker H.S. in New Orleans, recording 12 sacks and earning first-team all-league honors. He also received scholarship offers from Arizona State, Houston, New Mexico State and other schools. Said Bertholotte to 247Sports: “I liked the opportunity to play as a freshman and that they fit my game style. They said I could play outside linebacker, that I’m explosive and that I can get to the quarterback. I felt that fits my game and that I can make an impact.”
COLBY BURTON, DB (SR): Burton is a 5-10, 180-lb. senior transfer who played three seasons at McNeese State. He was a preseason all-conference pick in 2019, but suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the Cowboys’ opening game. Named First-Team All-Southland Conference in 2018 after starting all 11 games and recording 31 tackles, 2 INTs and 8 pass breakups. A 2016 graduate of Clear Creek H.S. in League City, Texas, where he earned unanimous first-team All-District honors. Last month, after announcing his intention to transfer from McNeese State, Burton told a Louisiana reporter: “I am excited to see everything pay off. I was really supposed to be done playing football if you think about it, 2019 was my senior year. When I first broke my ankle, I didn’t know why that happened. Now, it’s unfolding. I am excited to see the rest of my story unfold and to see where God takes this journey.”
JORDAN JOHNSON, RB (FR): Johnson is a 5-10, 175-lb. all-purpose back out of Allen H.S. in Dallas, Texas. (Hawaii head coach Todd Graham was the head coach at the school from 1995 to 2000.) Rushed for 977 yards on 103 carries during his senior season (9.5 yards per carry), adding 347 receiving yards (20 receptions). Also excelled in track and field for the Eagles (100m and long jump). Rated the No. 21 all-purpose back in the country by 247Sports. UH beat out Army, Navy, Abilene Christian and other schools for his commitment. Johnson to reporters in July: “The coaches at Hawaii, most of them come from Allen and they know a lot about Allen and our family mentality. I really liked that. What they have planned for me out there is that they are going to use me the way they use me out here at Allen. I’m a running back so I will run, but they will also put me out with the receivers too. I’m doing both.”
TARIQ JONES, DL (FR): Nicknamed “Showtime,” Jones is a 6-3, 230-lb defensive end at McDonogh 35 Senior H.S. in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 2019, he recorded 55 tackles for the Roneagles, including 22 sacks and 16 tackles for losses. Rivals.com rated him as one of the top 25 players in the state of Louisiana for the 2021 class. Frank Daggs, his head coach at McDonogh, said of Jones: “What I like the most about his game he’s a sack specialist. He like to go get the quarterback. That’s the No. 1 game, get the quarterback.”
SONNY SEMEATU, LB (JR): ESPN rated the Mililani H.S. standout the No. 11 prospect in the state of Hawaii. Originally from American Samoa, the 6-1, 240 Semeatu earned second-team All-OIA honors in 2019. He recorded six sacks and two forced fumbles that season after switching from defensive end to linebacker. Invited to the Polynesian Bowl all-star game. Trojans head coach Rod York to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Stephen Tsai this past June: “He’s extremely naturally strong and aggressive. He’s going to be a good teammate in the locker room and a good add for the University of Hawaii. He has one of those personalities where you’re happy next to him. He’s always smiling. He’s never unhappy or angry. [But] on the field he’s a playmaker. He makes big plays at big times and big moments. A couple games, he had two or three sacks per game.”
SOLOMON TURNER, LB (FR): Signed with Baylor in 2019 but redshirted. Did not play in 2020. The 6-1, 230-lb. standout prepped at Prestonwood Christian School in Plano, Texas. He is a native of Frisco, Texas, which is ironically the site of this year’s New Mexico Bowl. Selected Hawaii on the recommendation of his pastor, Jack Graham, who served as a mentor to Todd Graham (no relation). As a senior at Prestonwood, Turner played both offense and defense and was named first-team All-District at wide receiver and second-team All-District at safety. He carried a three-star ranking from ESPN, 247Sports and Rivals.com. Before choosing Baylor, he also received offers from Texas, Illinois, Connecticut and other Power-5 programs.
KOLBY WYATT, TE (JR): Wyatt is a transfer from the University of Georgia. The 6-4, 230-lb. tight end played sparingly in 2019 after switching from defensive end. He did not play in 2020. Wyatt is a native of San Diego, California and graduated from Shiloh H.S. in Snellville, Georgia. He was a three-sport athlete (football, basketball, and track and field) for the Generals. Was Shiloh’s “Senior Athlete of the Year.”
University of Hawai’i Football head coach Todd Graham joins The Sports Animals to recap NSD 2021 and talk about their bowl birth. The Rainbow Warriors will take on Houston in the New Mexico Bowl on Christmas Eve in Frisco, TX.