What ESPN says about PIAA
PIAA helps market Hawaii's recruits
Bruce Feldman, ESPN
Wednesday's going to be a special day for many recruits and their families. If you tune in to any of ESPN's TV coverage of signing day, you might see Manti Te'o, the nation's top-rated linebacker, announce his college choice.
Te'o is a gifted prospect with strong grades and great athleticism. A product of Punahou High in Honolulu, Te'o is a big reason why so many recruiters have flocked to Hawaii in the past year.
Te'o, though, will be just one of 29 FBS football prospects who will officially choose their future school. It's been a great year for the state and no one might be happier Wednesday than Doris Sullivan.
She runs the Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance, a non-profit business that she created in 2003 to help market aspiring athletes from the Hawaiian Islands and American Samoa.
All 29 FBS prospects will gather at 6 a.m. local time at Honolulu's Blaisdell Center on Wednesday to sign their papers at 7 a.m. simultaneously and have them faxed to their colleges. Most of the players live on Honolulu, but seven came in from neighboring islands Tuesday night. "It's really nice that round-trip airfare is just $28," says Sullivan, whose organization assists in getting them academically prepared for life after high school.
Sullivan, who decided to get involved with high-school students after being frustrated watching her son go through the recruiting process, has been helping athletes going back to her days as a student at Maryland, where she tutored Terps athletes ranging from future NBA star Buck Williams to QB Boomer Esiason.
I had met Sullivan and other members of the PIAA at the American Football Coaches Association convention a few weeks back in Nashville, Tenn. They had a booth set up with trays and trays of DVDs of promising players from the Islands for college coaches to come by and take. The PIAA is not a recruiting service that charges these kids hundreds of dollars to market them. Instead, Sullivan's group is supported by the efforts of New Balance and the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. The PIAA not only puts on combines and clinics, but it also provides free SAT tutoring five times a year for those interested. College coaches all over the country have gotten to know Sullivan because the PIAA has proven to be an ideal alternative to the hefty expenses it would require to recruit in Hawaii. And for many local players who come from parts of Hawaii that seldom get scouted, the PIAA has been a godsend.
"I was so surprised when I got offered," says Mika Nickel, a defensive end was unearthed by Utah State thanks to the PIAA. "They helped me so much getting my name out there."
Sullivan says her phone is constantly ringing from college coaches looking for players who might fill a need, whether that means getting information about a 20-yard dash a player ran at their June combine, getting a look at his highlight tape or having a player send in his transcripts to a school. Many times she'll receive e-mails from smaller school programs asking for an interior lineman and she can provide some names. Sullivan points out that she doesn't profess to be a coach, so don't ask her if a player is "coachable?"
"You've gotta ask his coach for that since I've never coached him," she says. "This has to be a group effort, but the whole goal is to make things easier to recruit here."