The landscape of recruiting has changed drastically since Jim Harbaugh was being recruited in the 1980s. Recruiting has evolved and sped up to the point where verbal offers are being handed out to ninth and tenth graders regularly.
Harbaugh was in Hawaii for one of the last stops on his Satellite Camp tour and capped the camp by verbally offering eighth grade and class of 2020 quarterback, Sol-Jay Maiava.
“After the camp finished, Coach Tony Tuioti asked me to stay back to meet Coach Harbaugh and asked me where my parents were. When we met Coach Harbaugh he said, ‘I want to offer a scholarship’ and that he was ready to offer me right now,” Maiava (6’1, 170-pounds) said.
Initially, and days since the offer, Maiava was thrilled about the offer which is his first scholarship offer from any school.
“I was just excited and grateful! I just hugged coach and told him I was thankful. Now I’m just back on the grind- I made the varsity team this spring and am doing well. Right now we have been having summer passing league so the next day I got back after it. We had a 7-on-7 game the next day so I just try to stay humble and focused but also have a little time to enjoy it for a little while… I’m just blessed! I feel even more motivated chasing after my goals and dreams.”
Offering an eighth grader over 4,000 miles away from Ann Arbor might beg the question… what does Maiava know about the Michigan football program?
“I know their academic programs are awesome and they specialize in a bunch of academic fields. They have the biggest college football stadium and also have the bragging right to say they’ve had the most wins in college football. Tom Brady went to Michigan, Desmond Howard, Charles Woodson. They have a very rich football tradition,” Maiava said.
Living in Hawaii, a six hour difference from Ann Arbor, Maiava’s opportunities to watch the Wolverines are limited, but the outlook on Michigan football in Hawaii is nothing but positive.
“I’ve watched games before but they are super early here being that the time difference has a huge gap. I think here in Hawaii we have a good amount of Michigan fans. Our state is so diverse that we get a lot of fans that like different teams whether it be college or NFL. The University of Hawaii is huge here just because they are the only football team we have here and it’s cool seeing some of our local boys playing at home here,” Maiava said.
Whether or not offering eighth graders is right or wrong is irrelevant when realizing that Maiava will forever remember that Michigan was his first scholarship offer by the time he is a senior in high school.
“I think that’s the coaches’ decision if they want to offer early… I’m sure they do their homework just like any other recruit before giving an offer and I also feel people are entitled to their opinions. One thing you can’t measure is time, work ethic, desire, passion, or heart. It’s becoming more often now that athletes are getting early offers and sometimes they work out but sometimes they don’t… But it’s the same way with recruits who don’t get early offers. It doesn’t always pan out for one reason or another.
“Now-a-days, athletes are so far ahead of the curve being bigger, stronger, and faster I can see why it’s becoming more and more normal for early offers. At the end of the day it’s what you do after you receive offers and commit and hopefully sign with a college of your choice… Some forget the grind that got them to that point while others stay hungry working harder. I’ve always had that blue collar work ethic and wanting to prove myself no matter the success,” Maiava added.
Photo Credit: Melanie Maxwell | The Ann Arbor News