Former Fort Osage High School football player Ikani Tuiono has been on the move quite a bit the past couple of years, and he said it’s been tough for him.
Last year, his family moved to Salt Lake City, where he played football and wrestled at East High School. But his move from Utah to Harbor City, California, might have been the most important.
After participating in spring workouts and practices with Narbonne High School, the talented 6-foot-3, 285-pound right guard started getting the attention of Division I programs. On July 1, he got a scholarship offer from the University of Oregon and is receiving interest from several other big-time college programs.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen, but they called my coach and said they wanted to offer me a full scholarship,” Tuiono said. “This has been unbelievable.
“(The Narbonne High School coaches) are the ones who got me the Oregon offer. I left from East with zero offers. Then, when I got to California, we had coaches come to our spring ball and that’s when all the coaches offered me.”
He has also received interest from Brigham Young University, Utah, Utah State, Southern California, Nevada, Georgetown, Fresno State, Indiana, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Central Arkansas, Tennessee and UCLA.
He said he anticipates making a decision after the third week of the regular season with Narbonne.
Tuiono has shown talent in both wrestling and football, but the latter was the one he figured had a future in.
“I just felt like football was the sport for me,” Tuiono said. “My dad had a really good career in football. He was an alumnus at Fort Osage. I just wanted to take after him and do some big things in college.”
His father, Daniel Tuiono, played at Eastern Arizona and went on to play in an arena league. He’s been a big influence on Ikani, giving his son tips after games, breaking down film at home and even running through blocking drills in their backyard.
“We would watch films that night after games,” Ikani said. “The next morning, we would be doing drills. We worked on footwork and my kickstep.”
While training with his dad and with Narbonne, Tuiono said he made a stark improvement with his run blocking and has gotten better at “staying lower and moving his feet.” He also played as a defensive tackle some, as well.
After the improvements he’s made, he is slated to be the starting right guard. At Narbonne, his goal is simple for his senior year.
“I want to help my team win a state championship,” said Tuiono, whose team made it to the semifinals in the I-AA Division in 2018. “We have a really good team this year. We have a shot.”
Narbonne’s first game will be broadcast on ESPNU (Comcast channel 269) at 10 p.m. Aug. 24 as it takes on Buchanan (Calif.).