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Posted 27 Apr 2002   For week ended February 08, 2002
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 06Feb02
By Kent Larsen
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Top Football Prospect Chooses Tennessee, LDS Mission

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE -- As the football recruiting season reaches the first signing date, February 6th, another highly-touted LDS player has announced his plans. Hawaii's Defensive Player of the Year, Jonathan "JT" Mapu told the University of Tennessee that he will play for the Vols next season before taking two years off to serve an LDS mission. In making his announcement to the press, Mapu indicated that his family had fasted and prayed with him over the decision.

Mapu, 6-foot-3, 265 pounds, is a defensive end from Kahuku High School in Hawaii, where he lead his team to its second consecutive state championship this year. Widely considered the best player in the state, Mapu was also chosen a Parade All-American and was highly recruited by and heavily considered Brigham Young, Washington and Hawaii in addition to Tennessee.

Accompanied by his parents, Mapu visited Tennessee, a 12-hour flight from Hawaii, on Jamuary 18th and 19th. On the 27th and 28th he told the press he and his family fasted and prayed over his decision, and on Tuesday, January 29th, he called Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer with the news. "I was surprised how fast the news (of the verbal commitment) traveled," said Mapu, at a press conference after school on Tuesday. "Everyone knew about it very fast."

Mapu said Tennessee's distance from Hawaii made the decision more difficult, "I knew I wanted to go to Tennessee," Mapu said, "but it was tough on my family because it's so far away." He said he had been interested in the school since he was a child, after seeing the Vols play on television. Hish high school coach, Siuaki Livai, added, "When we made the list of positives, Tennessee had the least. But they had two big things. One was their program. It stands alone. Over here, we call those programs like Tennessee, Nebraska and Miami the big dogs. Two, Jonathan and his family were blown away by the facilities."

Livai said that Mapu is a great player, "You ask anyone on the island who the best player is, and his name will unanimously come up. He dominated every year, from his sophomore year up until now. By his senior year, they double and triple-teamed him." And he expects exceptional performance from him, "Nothing less than first-round draft pick, when he graduates, that is what is expected of him," Livai said. "Hopefully he'll break our (Kahuku) record: the highest player from here picked was Chris Naeole who was 10th in the (1997) draft."


Mapu says he will play with Vols
Knoxville TN News-Sentinel 30Jan02 S2
By Mike Griffith: News-Sentinel sportswriter

Top prospect from Hawaii bound for UT
Nashville TN Tennesseean 30Jan02 S2
By Chris Low: Staff Writer


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