Tariq Jones got his bearings playing for the University of Hawaii football team in 2021, appearing in the team’s first two games while preserving his redshirt.
Heading into 2022, the redshirt freshman figures to enter the defensive line rotation, vying for playing time along with other edge rushers such as Arkansas transfer Mataio Soli and Jonah Kahahawai-Welch.
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Jones is one of the faces of a revamped defensive line, a unit many within the program consider one of the team’s most improved.
“It’s just really and truly a blessing,” said Jones, a native of New Orleans. “I know everybody back home really just wishes to be out here and I never really thought that I would be out here but I just see this as God’s blessing.”
Jones’ standout career at McDonogh 35 High School in Louisiana included 12 sacks in eight games as a senior, earning Louisiana Top 25 recruit status.
“Props to my teammates, it was hard,” Jones said of the move to the islands. “I was just 17 years old coming out here, separated from Mom but I think everybody like Jonah Kahahawai-Welch, Penei Pavihi, and really the rest of the team just taking me in and just watching them, it really helped me become who I am right now.”
Jones, who goes by the nickname “Showtime,” hopes to do just that for years to come in Manoa.
“It started when I was like a junior in high school,” Jones said. “I always used to have big games going in and then my friends just used to tell me that after the game that you put on a show. That was when the name showtime just clicked and like yeah, I just see it as an alter-ego heading into every game or practice. I just start getting locked in and separate everything from the outside.
“Hey, we’re just trying to bring the old Hawaii back really. That’s just, that’s the mark right there. Just set the tone and start the year out great honestly. We’re just going to love it when the first game come here.”
For fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the Rainbow Warriors before its Aug. 27 season opener against Vanderbilt, practices now begin at 7:30 a.m. and run for approximately two and a half hours.