February 7, 2008

Hualulu has been keeping up with June Jones

On Feb. 6, June Jones and his staff added 28 players to the roster on National Signing Day. Over the next few weeks, we will introduce you to many of these future Mustangs. Today, we start with one of SMU's nine out-of-state signees, Evan Huahulu.

Evan Huahulu knew he was in the right place when he discovered that shoes were optional in the SMU football program.

Huahulu, a defensive lineman from Anaheim, Calif., felt at home immediately when he arrived at The Hilltop during his official visit two weeks ago. During a discussion with SMU recruiting coordinator Jeff Reinbold during the visit, Huahulu recalls seeing two assistant coaches walking through the office - barefoot.

"I'm just a typical California boy who likes walking around in my sandals," said Huahulu, who is still adding to his 6-1, 300-pound frame.

"I knew then that these coaches were a group of mellow guys. I was going to fit in fine. It was a relaxed atmosphere. The coaches were still being professional wearing shorts and going barefoot. You don't get to see that everywhere."

Indeed. Offensive line coach Dennis McKnight proved the point at Wednesday's Signing Day gathering sponsored by the Mustang Club. McKnight braved Dallas' 40-degree temperatures wearing flip-flops and jeans at the event.

Huahulu said he was impressed with the campus, and quickly fell in love with the red brick buildings and the long avenues that navigate the campus.

A fan of June Jones' for years, Huahulu at first wanted to attend Hawaii. He has a cousin set to attend there this fall after completing his junior college work. But Huahulu was quick to take the opportunity of following Jones to SMU.

"I respect him so much," Huahulu said. "I've watched his teams for so long and wanted to play for him. Going to SMU to play on his teams, I love it."

Huahulu has only played high-level football for two seasons. As a youth, he wasn't allowed to play because he was too big. He picked it up again as a freshman, but only for a year.

Jones said Wednesday he hopes to put more weight on Huahulu's frame. His agility and footwork, practiced and honed from being a heavyweight wrestler, make him a special asset on the interior line. Huahulu was 19-3 wrestling this season.

Putting on the weight shouldn't be an issue. Jones pointed out that during Huahulu's visit, he checked in at 283 pounds after just having cut weight for wrestling. Before he left The Hilltop that weekend, Jones jokingly said he weighed 302.

Then there's that mean streak. Huahulu sees himself as a gladiator of sorts, and finds the contact of football enjoyable.

"It's hard to describe, but there's not another sport that lets you hit people like you can in football," Huahulu said. "I like to put on the pads and hit people. Where else can you do that?"

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