XFL to feature a handful of players and coaches with Hawaii ties


Courtesy St. Louis BattleHawks

The Super Bowl on Feb. 2 concluded the NFL’s 100th season, but that does not mean football is done until the fall.

The XFL is making a revival and will kick off its first slate of games on Saturday. Its initial run lasted just one season in 2001.

In addition to former Hawaii coach June Jones at the helm of the Houston Roughnecks, four players with ties to the 808 will be taking the field this season. They are as follows:

  • Jordan Ta’amu, quarterback, St. Louis BattleHawks: Ta’amu graduated from Pearl City in 2015 before attending New Mexico Military Institute for two years. He finished out his college career at Ole Miss, where he started the final five games of the 2017 season and the entirety of the 2018 season. He had a preseason stint with the Houston Texans before the 2019 season but eventually got released.
  • Hau’oli Kikaha, outside linebacker, Dallas Renegades: Kikaha, who changed his surname in 2013, was a 2010 graduate of Kahuku, back when his name was Hau’oli Jamora. Kikaha played collegiality at Washington, and was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Due to injuries to his ACL and ankle, he has not played in a game since 2017.
  • Dejon Allen, guard, St. Louis BattleHawks: Allen played collegiality for Hawaii from 2013 to 2017. He signed with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and spent the season on the practice squad. He was released before the 2019 season and signed with the Green Bay Packers, but his tenure there lasted from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.
  • Kalani Vakameilalo, defensive tackle, DC Defenders: Vakameilalo is a 2014 Kapolei graduate. He played for Oregon State in college, where he started in 31 of 46 games over his four-year career.
  • Pasoni Tasini, defensive tackle, Seattle Dragons: Before playing his college ball at Utah, Tasini graduated from Baldwin in 2012. He was an all-conference player in his final season with the Utes.
  • Noah Borden, long snapper, Seattle Dragons: Borden is a 2012 Kamehameha graduate who served a two-year mission before playing for UH from 2015 to 2018. In 2018, he was a semifinalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, an award given to the “college football player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement. Borden was recently named a team captain for the Dragons as well.

There are also a handful of coaches with ties to the University of Hawaii who will be on the sidelines this season:

  • June Jones, head coach and general manager, Houston Roughnecks: Jones coached Hawaii from 1999 to 2007 and is the school’s all-time winningest coach at 76-41. After that, he was the head coach at SMU from 2008 to 2014 and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL from 2017 to 2018. He departed in part to take the job with the Roughnecks. In 2016, he was Kapolei’s offensive coordinator.
  • Norm Chow, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Los Angeles Wildcats: Chow was the head coach at UH from 2012 to 2015, amassing a 10-36 career record.
  • Kurt Gouveia, linebackers coach, DC Defenders: Gouveia, who played in the NFL for 13 years, was the linebackers coach at UH in 2014 and outside linebackers coach in 2015. The Waianae graduate and two-time Super Bowl champion also played for the Las Vegas Outlaws during the XFL’s original run in 2001.
  • John Estes, offensive line coach, Houston Roughnecks: Estes played for Hawaii from 2006 to 2009. At UH, he earned All-WAC honors three times and set an NCAA record for most consecutive games started (54). After going undrafted in 2010, he held stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals and the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders. Estes was a graduate assistant at UH from 2016 to 2017, where he assisted with coaching the offensive line.
  • Dan Morrison, quarterbacks coach, Houston Roughnecks: Morrison was the quarterbacks coach at UH from 1999 to 2007 before following Jones to SMU.
  • Dennis McKnight, offensive assistant/special teams, Houston Roughnecks: McKnight was an assistant at UH from 1999 to 2000. From 2006 to 2007, he also served as the offensive line and special teams coach. Like Morrison, he also followed Jones to SMU in 2008.
  • Tom Mason, linebackers coach, Houston Roughnecks: Mason was UH’s defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach in 2015. He also coached with Jones from 2008 to 2014 when he was SMU’s defensive coordinator. When Jones resigned during the 2014 season, he was the interim head coach.
  • Kevin Gilbride, head coach/general manager, New York Guardians: Gilbride’s son, Kevin Jr., played baseball and football for Hawaii from 2000 to 2003. Kevin Jr. was most recently the tight ends coach for the Chicago Bears during the 2019 season.
  • Jerry Glanville, defensive coordinator, Tampa Vipers: Glanville was the defensive coordinator at Hawaii from 2005 to 2006 before taking the Portland State head coaching job in 2007. He was also the head coach of the Houston Oilers from 1985 to 1989 and Atlanta Falcons from 1990 to 1993.

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