Rocky Mountain pipeline grows as Nawahine commits to Boise State

Kekoa Nawahine is the third Grizzly senior to commit to an FBS program, and the second to choose Boise State.

rroberts@idahostatesman.comNovember 13, 2013 

Rocky Mountain senior Kekoa Nawahine catches a pass against Meridian in September.

OTTO KITSINGER — For the Idaho Statesman

  • Eight local teams in this weekend's state semifinals

    Rocky Mountain (10-1) plays top-ranked Highland (10-0) in the 5A semifinals Friday night at Holt Arena in Pocatello.

    “I believe in our guys,’’ Rocky Mountain standout and new Boise State commit Kekoa Nawahine said. “We’re a really talented team, it just comes down to how well we execute and how well we’re ready to play. It’s just who wants it more.’’

    Capital (10-1), Bishop Kelly (10-0), Skyview (9-1), Fruitland (9-1), Homedale (9-1), Council (8-2) and Salmon River (10-0) also play semifinal games.

— Scott Criner has molded the careers of many athletes during his years as a high school, college and professional football coach, but the 2014 graduating class at Rocky Mountain High could end up being one of his most talented.

Senior Kekoa Nawahine (Kay-koa Nah-wah-heenay) became the third Rocky Mountain player to land a major-college offer this season when he committed to Boise State on Tuesday, the day after receiving a scholarship offer in head coach Chris Petersen’s office.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Nawahine plays free safety and receiver, but he was recruited by Boise State as an athlete, Criner said.

“(Petersen) told me that my offer was in the envelope on the table and that he would call me back in a couple of weeks to see what my decision was,” Nawahine said. “Once he told me I had an offer, my decision was already made. That’s where I wanted to go.”

Nawahine joins defensive back Khalil Oliver as the second Rocky Mountain player to commit to Boise State this season, and tight end Jake Knight committed to Oregon State last week. Several more Grizzlies could join FBS or FCS programs before the season is up, including senior quarterback Riley Bradshaw.

“It is a really good group. It’s unusual for Idaho,” Criner said. “We are really blessed with a good group of athletes ... They are not only just good players, but they’re good students.”

Nawahine plans to go on a two-year LDS mission before enrolling at Boise State, he said.

“Me, I like him as a wide receiver. I know that he fits with what they do schematically on either side, which is why they are taking him as an athlete,” Criner said. “He has a really high football acumen. He’s really, really smart on the field. He understands the game. When he’s out there playing for us, it’s like having another coach on the field.”

Through 11 games, Nawahine leads the Grizzlies with 45 receptions for 834 yards — an average of 18.5 yards per catch — and five TDs. He also leads the team with 63 tackles, including two for loss, and four interceptions.

“He’s a great effort guy. He’ll give you every ounce of everything he is on every snap,” Criner said. “He has such a competitiveness, but he’s not a big-talk guy. He’s not screaming and yelling. He’s one of those guys that just plays with his pads, plays every down like it’s his last.

“Chris (Petersen) always talks about, ‘He’s their kind of guy.’ Well, he’s their kind of guy.”

Rachel Roberts: 377-6422; Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX

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