HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Super Bowl 54 is less then a week away, and for Hawaii’s DeForest Buckner it will be his first opportunity playing in the ‘Big Game.'
Often times professional athletes stand out from the bunch from the very beginning, and Buckner was no exception.
The Waianae native attended Punahou School in ninth grade and instantly made an impression on the coaches and teammates he was around.
Longtime Punahou head football coach Kale Ane remembers him fondly.
“Right from day one he worked really hard and he took coaching really well,” said Ane. “He wanted to be great, and being 6′7 in Hawaii the expectations can be really heavy on people, we had a coach saying he was going to be division one basketball player, there was a lot of options an routes he could take."
His size and athleticism made him a can’t miss four-star prospect following a stellar prep career both on the football field and on the hardwood for the Buff and Blue.
“He had so many opportunities every conference, every program wanted him," said Ane. "He had no roof he had no ceiling, we all knew he was going to be great and it was only a matter of time.”
Buckner would eventually go on to further his education and playing career at the University of Oregon, and eventually was named the PAC-12 defensive player of the year.
In 2016 he was selected as the seventh overall pick in the draft, by the San Francisco 49ers.
Buckner’s has been a force for the Bay Area Niners ever since arriving in the league tallying his first Pro Bowl in 2018.
Although his former prep coach at Punahou Kale Ane spent multiple seasons with the Kansas City Chief’s in the mid to late 1970′s, he says he’s still pulling for his former player in Super Bowl 54.
“He has represented all of us not just at Punahou,” said Ane. “We’re rooting for him all the way and we’re really just so proud of him.”
Kick-off between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs is set for Sunday Feb. 2 1:30 pm HST.