HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kaulana Makaula entered the second floor ballroom of Elks Lodge in Waikiki to a chorus of cheers from friends, family and his Punahou teammates. Donning a red and yellow print Aloha shirt and a USC cap, Makaula’s future as a Trojan began to take shape.
This morning’s National Letter of Intent Signing Day was a culmination of hard work for Makaula, who didn’t have a clue where or if he would be playing college football on a scholarship less than a month ago.
With no offers and lukewarm interests from mainland schools, Makaula took part in the 2019 Polynesian Bowl with something to prove. It wasn’t a vacation or an opportunity to learn about the Polynesian culture. Makaula approached the week of practices and Polynesian Bowl itself with a business-like attitude has he had done many times suiting up for the Buffanblu’s secondary.
His hard work during practices paid off, recording an interception in the first half of the Polynesian Bowl in what quickly became a showcase of Makaula’s ability as a cornerback and safety, which drew attention from some of the Pac-12’s biggest programs, including USC.
“When you talk about USC, the thought of football automatically comes to your mind … the tradition of football over there. It’s just truly amazing. Can’t get that anywhere else,” Makaula said.
Immediately after the game ended, Makaula was on the phone with schools looking for an official visit over the following two weeks. What was a stagnant process soon became a whirlwind of emails, voicemails and conversations which Makaula admittedly enjoyed being a part of.
“It’s been exciting,” Makaula said. “Me and my family have just been embracing the recruiting process.”
Even though he enjoyed life as a high-profile recruit, what Makaula wanted most was the opportunity to earn an education and play football at the highest level. And USC checked off both of those boxes.
“After my official visit up in USC two weeks ago, I was just blown away - me and my parents were blown away,” he said. “We just thought in our minds and in our hearts and the man above just gave us the idea that USC is the right place for me and it’s going to be my home for the next 3-4 years.”
Soon after putting his signature on his letter of intent to become a Trojan, there was a look of relief on Makaula’s face not just because he gets to play football in Southern California, but also because he was able to share and enjoy the moment alongside his Punahou teammates.”
“It’s truly an amazing experience out here with my fellow Punahou brothers. Just seeing each and everyone of us go our separate ways is just truly amazing,” he said. “It’s a dream come true.”