Interview: 3-Star 2020 Hawaii OLB/SS Ace Kaufusi Updates Kahuku’s Hot Start
It does not take long watching Ace Kaufusi’s highlight reel to see why the Kahuku High School outside linebacker/safety is already rated a three-star recruit. Kaufusi plays football with the reckless abandonment we all love out of defenders and has an uncanny knack for causing chaos in the opposition’s backfield. Kaufusi (6-3, 175) spent a good part of the summer on the mainland showcasing his talents to Pac-12 and Mountain West schools stirring up interest heading into his junior season while landing an offer from BYU.
With the Red Raiders racing out to a 3-0 start, a No. 2 MaxPreps ranking in Hawaii, and a big showdown looming with St. Louis High School, I sat down with one of Hawaii’s rising stars in the 2020 class to learn more about his game and Kahuku’s early season success.
Ace, Kahuku has started off hot with a 3-0 record and winning big, what has been the secret to the early season success?
“It all started in the summer. We were getting together as a team and working out consistently. We study a lot of film seeing the tendencies of our opponents and getting everything down before the game.”
You play that hybrid outside linebacker/safety in the box role, at which position do you see yourself on the field?
“I see myself as an outside linebacker. I am able to go out to strong safety to cover. Where ever they need me, I am all for it.”
Your reel shows you in the opposition’s backfield more than the referee, how many sacks and tackles for a loss did you have last season?
“Last season, I am not sure. I know I had at least six sacks but I am not sure about my tackles for a loss.”
Did any quarterback tired of your constant pressure and/or hits say anything funny to you in hopes of getting you to ease up on him?
(Laughs) “Yes. I took out two QBs last year in one game. I knew the coach from the other team; later on he was telling me how frustrated he was with the pressure I was putting on their quarterbacks.”
What did you work on over the offseason to improve upon before the 2018 season?
“A lot of what I did went into gaining weight. I did a lot of weight lifting. The speed work and technique came along, but I needed to be stronger to compete at linebacker this year.”
Where are you seeing the biggest improvements in your overall game?
“At linebacker, my pass rush has improved a lot. My cover skills as a safety has improved a lot as well.”
What are the other strengths to your game we have not covered?
“Separating my game apart from others, my football IQ is a strength. I call out tendencies of the offensive line in our games. That comes from film study.”
This summer, did you attend any college camps?
“Yes, I went to a Dixie State camp, Utah, BYU, and the All-Poly Camp.”
Of them all, which was your best camp performance?
“The BYU camp.”
What did you do well at the BYU camp?
“My mindset was to do my best, I flew around and did what I do best.”
Which schools are showing recruiting interest in you?
“Virginia just asked for my transcripts.”
I know you have an offer, which school has offered you?
“I have an offer from BYU.”
Going back to football. The Red Raiders get the ultimate in-season challenge on Sept. 7 squaring off against No. 4 nationally ranked St. Louis, what kind of game are you expecting from them?
“It is the same thing every year, we are always the top two teams. I am expecting crazy competition and a big battle.”
You guys have three weeks to prepare for them, what are the practices like preparing for the big game?
“Our practices are different, definitely different. We understand that we have to have the right mentality to beat St. Louis. There is more work going into this game, especially with more time to prepare for the game.”
After St. Louis, you guys have five games left on the schedule, are you pumped up a little bit more to play any of the other teams left on the schedule more than the rest?
“Yeah. It is fun getting to play some of the new teams. They have opened it up, we get to play some of the private schools now. I am excited for all our games.”
What are you goals for the rest of the 2018 season?
“I want more tackles, keep putting pressure on all these QBs, pile up the stats, and help my team win.”
Ace, great talking to you today. Good luck with the upcoming game against St. Louis.