Jonah Kahahawai-Welch’s football journey has had some bumps in the road since he arrived to the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus, but he finally appears to be all systems go.
The former Kamehameha standout has battled injuries since he arrived – a shoulder surgery last fall and a preseason injury before the 2019 season started.
But after missing Hawaii’s opening two games against Arizona and Oregon State, Kahahawai-Welch made his season debut against the Washington Huskies over the weekend and made an impact on special teams with a key tackle on a return.
“It was a great feeling,” he said of making that tackle. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates running down just as hard – running and collapsing the middle so he could bounce outside. But it just felt really good to get out there again.”
Through hard work and patience, Kahahawai-Welch is primed to be the difference-maker the Warriors need on the defensive side of the ball. A sideline-to-sideline player who pursues the opposition relentlessly, Kahahawai-Welch is anxious to put all his hard work on display this weekend against Central Arkansas at Aloha Stadium.
“Hard work really does pay off,” Kahahawai-Welch said. “All the work that people don’t see outside of the football field and off the football field is really what matters and I’m just happy that I got good teammates to help me and push me, drives me and keep me up even through an injury.”
For a defensive that has only managed one sack through 12 quarters of play, the redshirt-freshman’s recent availability is needed more than ever.
“I feel ready. I feel whenever the coaches are ready to call my name whenever my number gets called, I’m ready to go out there and execute my position to the best of my ability,” he said.
Hawaii takes on Central Arkansas Saturday at Aloha Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. HST.