Boise State Football

Boise State standout’s brother becomes fifth commit of Broncos’ 2020 class

Kahuku defensive back Kaonohi Kaniho breaks up a pass intended for Kapolei wide receiver Keanu Barboza during the first half of an OIA football game on October 13, 2017, in Kahuku, Hawaii.
Kahuku defensive back Kaonohi Kaniho breaks up a pass intended for Kapolei wide receiver Keanu Barboza during the first half of an OIA football game on October 13, 2017, in Kahuku, Hawaii. Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Kaonohi Kaniho’s recruitment slowed down after he tore the posterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee last September.

While the injury may have scared away other college football programs, Boise State knew exactly the kind of player it was getting in Kaniho. The 6-foot, 180-pound cornerback from Kahuku (Hawaii) High verbally committed to Boise State on Wednesday, following the path of older brother Kekaula, who started eight games for the Broncos last season at nickel.

The younger Kaniho is the fifth known commitment in Boise State’s 2020 class.

“I chose Boise State because with all my injuries that have happened in the past and not really having a junior season, they still really did believe in me that ... I can play the game,” Kaniho told the Idaho Statesman on Friday. “... And of course seeing that my brother started his freshman year, they give the incoming people a chance to start coming in. It’s about opportunities, and I feel like they’ve given me the best opportunity to be successful.”

Kaniho was a Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State first-team selection at corner as a sophomore and has been on varsity since his freshman year. He was voted a defensive team captain this fall. He had two interceptions — including one for a touchdown — in the three games he played in 2018 before injuring his knee.

“His awareness. His football IQ on the field. He’s probably the smartest football player that we have on the team right now,” Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho told the Idaho Statesman by phone Thursday. “He understands being a defensive player everything he needs to do on the back end, and definitely he also plays offense.”

Kaniho, who also plays receiver, is well-respected by his peers, teachers and coaches, Carvalho said.

“He’s a great kid, very respectful. He works hard,” Carvalho said. “You’re getting a student of the game on the football field as well as in the classroom. He comes from a very stable family. Mom and dad are very involved, even older brother Kekaula. It’s a tight family. They have very high expectations of him, and he works his butt off to fulfill them.”

Kaniho also had an offer from Hawaii and interest from UCLA, Utah and Washington, according to 247Sports.com, which ranks him as the No. 88 corner in the nation. The younger Kaniho is a few inches taller than his older brother, but the two spend more time cheering each other on than comparing stats.

Kaniho plans to join the Broncos in the summer of 2020, giving him one season to play with his older brother.

“I know a lot of people compare us, but my dad made it a big point that we’re both family and we’re on the same team,” Kaniho said. “So we just support each other and congratulate each other for our accomplishments.”

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Rachel Roberts has been covering sports for the Idaho Statesman since 2005. She attended Northwest Nazarene University and is Boise born and raised.
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