After securing a trio of local commitments earlier in the month, the University of Hawaii football team has gained a pledge from ‘Iolani defensive lineman Ha’aheo Dela Cruz.

Dela Cruz is UH’s seventh commitment for the Class of 2023, upping the program’s total to seven. Dela Cruz committed on Saturday, along with Bishop Gorman’s trio of Aiden McComber, Elijah Palmer and Jamih Otis.

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“It’s just very special to be a part of that first kind of recruiting class that Coach (Timmy) Chang and the staff is putting together and getting to learn from all these former UH players is just an amazing experience for me and I’m looking forward to it,” Dela Cruz told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello.

Dela Cruz was one of the defensive standouts of ‘Iolani’s 2021 HHSAA Division I state title team, which went 11-0 for the school’s first-ever state DI championship in football.

In the championship game, Dela Cruz had two sacks in a 38-0 win over Lahainaluna. Dela Cruz will be a senior this fall for the Raiders and can sign with UH as early as December.

“Knowing that I’m a part of this family even though I’m not really there yet, knowing that the coaches and players there now have an eye out for me is just very special to me and I have to represent them in a good way,” he said. “I think that’s going to be one of my goals for this season.

“I have an immense amount of gratitude to everyone that helped me through this process. My family, my coaches at ‘Iolani and the coaches at UH. I didn’t feel pressured at all to make any decision that I didn’t want to and it just felt right to me.”