After months of anticipation, it’s game week for the University of Hawaii football team as the Rainbow Warriors will open the 2018 season this Saturday at Colorado State.
For freshman cornerback Akil Francisco, who redshirted last season, traveling and suiting up for the first time as a college football player will serve as the realization of a promised dream.
Back in 2000, at the age of one years old, Akil’s father Michael was killed in an armed-robbery in their native Oakland.
Nine years later, he lost his mother Nikki Sellers to breast cancer.
Before her passing, Akil and his uncle John who helped raise him, assured his mom that Akil would chase his dreams at the collegiate level.
On Saturday, number-23 will hit the field for the first time for his new found home of Hawaii, forever inspired by his parents.
“Coming from a small town Alameda, California and coming up without both parents and stuff like that, it gives you nothing but motivation and inspiration to come out here and give it all, 110-percent, maybe even 200 in a lot of the days” Francisco told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello.
“Just that stuff that happened over the years with me and my family and the things that I have had to go through and stuff like that has just made me a stronger person at the end of the day”
A 2017 graduate of Encinal High School, Akil was a three-year varsity letter-winner in football and track and field where he was a two-time all-league pick, including a first-team selection as a senior at defensive back and on special teams as a kick returner.
“We saw him at a camp and saw how competitive he was. Didn’t know the whole back story but as we got through deeper in the recruiting you kind of hear it and kind of see a guy that has had every reason to not continue on the right path and has continued to do it” said head coach Nick Rolovich.
“I love it out here so much. These past two years that I’ve been out here. My teammates out here, Coach Rolovich, (defensive backs) out here, all my teammates, even my uncle that moved out here with me, it’s just been nothing but a great support system for me. Just everybody that’s out here that’s willing to put out 110-percent to the bigger goal” added Francisco.
The Rainbow Warriors will face-off with Colorado State in Fort Collins on Saturday at 1:30pm HST on the CBS Sports Network.
“We just want to bring a whole new wave to the island. We want to bring that winning feeling back. I feel like the team just wants to bring that back. We want to get the stadium packed out. We want to get the fans back into it. We just want to give hope for the fans and really show them what Hawaii football is supposed to be about” said Francisco.