Four years after posting 2,600 yards passing and 27 touchdowns as a senior at Moanalua, Alaka’i Yuen’s Division-1 Football dream has finally become a reality, having recently committed to play quarterback at Fresno State University.
The 6-foor-4, 208-pound right hander who was known first his scrambling ability coming out of high school found himself left off the recruiting radar, which prompted a pause to his education as he decided to enter the work force instead of pursuing a path to playing collegiate football.
In 2018 though, Yuen’s passion for the game returned, ultimately leading him to attend Ventura Community College.
“I just fell back in love with playing football again. I think being away helped me to appreciate how much the sport actually meant to me and how much I missed it,” Yuen told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello.
In 2019, Yuen who participated in the first annual Polynesian Bowl All-Star Game two years prior took over the starting QB job after three games and went on to impress by recording 1,683 with 16 total touchdowns in 11 games.
“I had to just mature out a little bit after high school. I wasn’t thinking how I think now because as you get older you just grow you know? It’s good, I just want to go in there, get playing time, so what I love to do and that’s pretty much it.”
Following his frenetic freshman season, Yuen forced his name into the recruiting radar and following a pandemic cancelled year at the junior college ranks, Yuen gained interest from Tarleton State, Northern Iowa, UTEP, and Montana to name a few before Fresno State came calling. An opportunity that the former Windward Tigers pop warner product pounced on.
“I hope my testimony can be a bridge of hope to somebody else to not give up on anything,” said Yuen. “There’s always a way. It may take three or four years, it took me two years to figure everything out but I’m glad I figured it out. I’ve been blessed with a lot. I never thought I’d ever end up at Fresno State. I thought I would end up at a small FCS school or division 2 school, nothing wrong with that, don’t get me wrong because just having an opportunity to play ball is a blessing but I just never thought I would end up at Fresno State.”
Jokingly, Yuen acknowledged that growing up in Hawaii, Fresno State is viewed as the villain, adding to the thought of never dreaming of one day playing for the Bulldogs. However, FSU’s Mountain West Conference affiliation which guarantees a game against Hawaii every season as west division rivals was an added perk.
“That played a part in me deciding to go to Fresno. Especially in 2021 we play at Hawaii. I just think that’s such a great opportunity. To be able to play against a bunch of my friends and to be able to play in front of friends and family. I always thought maybe I would end up at UH but that just never worked out. This will be cool to still be able to come and play in Hawaii.”
Currently Yuen is attending summer school classes online which will wrap up this week ahead of packing up and heading out for California early next week in preparation for his first training camp with the Bulldogs where the 22 year old will have three years of eligibility remaining.
“I’m still pretty shocked right now. Just processing everything but it’s pretty crazy. It’s been a long journey for sure. A lot of ups and downs for sure. A lot of times where I was going through it and felt like giving up but something in me just didn’t want to give up and I’m glad that I didn’t because here I am today, ready to leave next week Monday to start a new journey again.”