Sports

KS-Hawai`i Alum Kagawa Leaves SMU, Signs With Georgia Tech

May 30, 2014, 4:05 PM HST
* Updated May 30, 4:10 PM
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Shaun Kagawa’s path to playing Division I college football took him from Kamehameha-Hawai`i to West Point and the United States Military Academy Prep School.

Kagawa quickly found that Army “wasn’t for me,” and was granted a release from the school just a semester into his college career. Nearly four months ago, Kagawa signed a letter of intent to play football at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Tex. The Mustangs are coached by former University of Hawai`i head coach June Jones.

Kagawa, however, was granted a release from his letter of intent at SMU and has decided to commit to Georgia Tech and head coach Paul Johnson, a former Hawai`i assistant.

“After signing with SMU, I had some unforeseen problems with admissions, as well as the other two recruits from the Army that were with me,” Kagawa said. “I got released from my National Letter of Intent about a month or so ago actually, had some conversations with coach June Jones about it…He was really helpful. Coach (Rich) Ellerson also played a big part as well as coach Bob Wagner, former AD (at Kamehameha-Hawai`i).”

The trio helped get Kagawa’s tape out, and it ultimately fell in the hands of Johnson.

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“Coach Paul Johnson really liked my tape, as well as the other coaches on staff, and it’s really been a fast process,” Kagawa said.

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Kagawa’s commitment was first reported by GoJackets.com. The website stated that Kagawa gave his commitment to the Yellow Jackets on Wednesday, a day after taking an official visit to the Atlanta campus.

Other schools, including Hawai`i, Wyoming, San Diego State, Arizona, and Arizona State, each showed interest in the Hilo native, but not every school could offer a scholarship. Most schools have completed their recruiting classes for the upcoming season.

Kagawa, an inductee into the 2013 Hawai`i High School Athletic Association Hall of Honor, played both basketball and football for Kamehameha-Hawai`i. In his senior season, he received All-BIIF First Team recognition as both a receiver and a defensive back.

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Kagawa will play the safety position for Johnson and defensive coordinator Ted Roof. “We talked a lot about his new defense he’s trying to establish, a 4-2-3 defense where he has a nickel package, so he’s looking at three safeties on the field at the same time,” Kagawa explained. “He actually likes the fact that I can cover as well as step into the box when I need to.”

Even though Georgia is in the Eastern time zone, a six hour difference from Hawai`i, his family and friends back home will get ample opportunities to watch him play. Georgia Tech is part of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), which has a national television agreement with ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ABC. Regional games occasionally air on Fox Sports West or Prime Ticket, and additional games can be found on ESPN3 through the ACC Network.

Kagawa has not lost any of his collegiate eligibility despite playing for Army Prep last season. He will have five years to play four seasons.

Georgia Tech finished the 2013 season with a 7-6 record. The Yellow Jackets lost to Mississippi in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, played Dec. 30 in Nashville, Tenn.

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