Noa Kamana wasn’t promised anything when walked on the University of Hawaii football team as a transfer form Division III Pacific prior to the 2019 season.

But through years of hard work, mostly in a backup safety role and on special teams, the Punahou alum earned a scholarship in 2019 under former head coach Todd Graham.

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In 2022, Kamana has taken first-team reps at safety under first-year defensive coordinator Jacob Yoro. Aggressiveness is valued highly by Yoro, and Kamana brings a lot of it. All he has to do is remember how he got here.

“Coming out of high school, I had no offers.” Kamana said. “Whether I believed that I deserved an opportunity to go D-I or not but going to D-III just practicing with those guys, you see a lot of guys who even you think while practicing, ‘Man, these guys deserve to be playing D-I.

“Going into games and playing against other teams, I just felt like after that first year that I really could do more and I could represent my family better. Ultimately, I decided to come home and luckily (former UH) coach (Nick Rolovich) after that first year, they gave me that shot to walk on and they believed in me.”

In his first season with the Rainbow Warriors, Kamana earned played in 10 games and made one start. Over the next two seasons he played sparingly, mostly on special teams. He admits there was some frustration over the years but he has no regrets, understanding that those challenges are what gave him the confidence to break through this fall.

“It’s just being able to know your worth. I knew that I could play against better competition,” Kamana said. “I could compete with guys at this level and I think I’ve shown that the last four years and now being able to compete for first team reps over here on defense so that’s good.”

The Rainbow Warriors will continue training camp through Aug. 9 before shifting to game preparation for their season opener against Vanderbilt on Aug. 27. According to Kamana, the defense and safety corps in particular, which features the likes of Leonard Lee, Matagi Thompson, Nalu Emerson, Kalauna Makaula, and Meki Pei, has so far lived up to the billing of being an attacking defense.

“When people come on Aug. 27, I think people are going to see that we have a fast defense that is going to fly around and get after the ball,” Kamana says. “We’re going to challenge you through the air and we’re going to get after the quarterback and tackle the run game.”