If the past couple of weeks in football hasn’t revealed the talent found in Hawaiʻi QBs, then I don’t think the sports world is watching. Three of the most incredible performances in college football and the NFL were at the hands of Hawaiʻi-grown athletes: Tennessee Titans’ Marcus Mariota, UCF’s McKenzie Milton, and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. All quarterbacks hailing from Oʻahu, all cultivating success both on the field and off. In the NFL Wild Card Round against the Kansas City Chiefs, Mariota led a wild comeback (enough use of ‘wild’ for one sentence or nah?) to secure their first victory in the playoffs since 2003. Mariota’s heroic effort of the night was the moment he threw a touchdown pass to himself- the first QB to accomplish the feat in 20 years!
He also threw an insane block in order to get RB Derrick Henry into open field. Mariota has led the way for Hawaiʻi-grown athletes in college as Milton, Tagovailoa, and Ole Miss’ Jordan Taʻamu make names for themselves.
Milton successfully assisted UCF in their perfect 13-0 season capped off with a bowl victory over Auburn! Although Milton and the Knights received less than adequate attention for their historic season, the Mililani grad completed 265 of 395 attempts for 4,037 yards with 37 TDs and 9 INTs- stats that could have been printed at the CFP itself. Unfortunately, a shady committee kept the Knights out of the big house, and Milton had no way of ultimately proving himself on a larger stage. I’m all in on the UCF bandwagon next season with the hope that Milton and Tagovailoa face off in the Heisman race!
Damn Tua had to go and do it. I have always and will always despise Alabama, but watching his grace and talent on the field left me awestruck. As Bama came back from their 20-7 deficit at the half (I felt only joy for Georgia until that point), watching a national championship game led by a sweet Samoan kid was almost like witnessing a symphony. As he threw the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime, I couldn’t help but feel Poly pride in that moment (even though I still hate Bama).
While Hawaiʻi used to be the destination for thick, strong OL, an outpouring of Polynesians in skill positions should have mainland coaches knocking. Marcus may have made the first move, but Milton, Tagovailoa, Taʻamu, and other upcoming QBs will soon have their chance to shine as Hawaiʻi QBs become the hottest commodities.