Interview: 2020 OL Micah Soliai-Howlett Running Rough Over Hawaii Competition
There are certain things on the football field that are just unfair to the rest of the players in the sport – God given natural abilities is one of them. The natural talents are not harvested without hard work, but there are just some things no matter how hard one works they will never get to the same spot as their competitors. Speed is one blessing, size and strength is another. As offensive linemen go, Class of 2020 Hawaii talent Micah Soliai-Howlett seems to have it all.
Soliai is still raw in many aspects, but in others he is far ahead of the curve. At 6-4, 295-pounds, he is a beast in the trenches swallowing up defenders with his massive size. Once he gets his hands on a defender, it is game over. His weight room numbers are comic book fantasies for the rest of us benching 405 pounds, squatting 585, power cleaning 275, and deadlifting 500 – and he is just a junior in high school.
Soliai is a key cog up front for Kahuku High School’s offense helping the Red Raiders to a 3-0 start with a No. 2 ranking in Hawaii (MaxPreps). Depending on the play, Soliai can line up at either tackle or guard spot road-grading a path forward in the run game or delivers a punch in the passing game stunting hopeful pass rushers where they stand.
With the Red Raiders preparing for an upcoming showdown against No. 4 nationally ranked St. Louis, I sat down with one of Hawaii’s top rising stars in the 2020 class to learn more about his game and his emerging recruiting process.
Micah, when the 2017 season had ended, what were the strengths of your game as an offensive lineman?
“My footwork was my strong point, my strength too. My power and speed were big parts of my game.”
What were the key parts of your game you worked on in the offseason?
“I worked on my flexibility in my hips so I can get lower on run block and pass block.”
With three games under your belt this season, where are you seeing the biggest gains in your pass and run blocking abilities?
“This year, I have better footwork than last year. I can move my feet faster on counters and my power steps are good. With run blocking, I keep running my feet. I used to stop.”
Is there an area of your game that is so much improved that you have even surprised yourself?
“My pass blocking. I did not have a good kick step last year, now it is clean.”
Marcus Lombard and Micah
Did you get a chance to max out in the weight room this offseason?
“Yes. I did. My bench was 405, squat was 585, power clean 275, and my deadlift was 500.”
Oh wow! Impressive numbers.
Did you get to go to any college camps this summer?
“I did. I went to a UH camp (Hawaii) and a GPA Camp – Gridiron Performance Academy. There were a lot of JUCO, D-II, and D-III colleges there. I got OL MVP at that camp. At the UH camp, I got to talk to some coaches.”
Which schools are showing recruiting interest in you right now?
“UH and Utah are showing interest.”
I feel for the defensive linemen and linebackers that have to go up against you and Enokk Vimahi, as leaders on the team in the trenches, what is the mindset you guys take onto the field?
“For every play, our coach tells us to beat the crap out of them every play. If you have that mindset you will not lose reps. I keep that mindset.”
Are you guys tracking pancake blocks and/or knockdowns this season?
“Yeah. Every week, after each game they give us our stats. Marcus (Lombard) got one, I got it for the second one, and Enokk got it for our third game.”
This season, about how many knockdowns and/or pancake blocks do you think you have in total?
“I think I have at least 15 or 16. I’m not sure.”
Who is the toughest defensive lineman you have gone up against either this year or last year, and how did that battle help make you a better player?
“The best defensive player I have gone up against is on my team, Tausili Fiatoa (BYU). I get better going against him. He is so fast and has a lot of moves. We grind out in practice.”
What goals have you set for yourself for the entirety of the 2018 season?
“This season, my goals are to get a 3.5 GPA and at the same time go undefeated and get a ring.”
Micah, thanks for your time today and good luck with the upcoming game against St. Louis.