Mature And Talented Beyond His Years

Breiden Fehoko of Farrington High. ANTHONY CONSILLIO PHOTO

Breiden Fehoko of Farrington High. ANTHONY CONSILLIO PHOTO

In size, accomplishment and maturity, Farrington’s Breiden Fehoko is far more advanced than his calendar age would suggest. For these reasons, the senior defensive tackle is ranked No. 2 on Rivals list of top rated Hawaii football recruits.

Fehoko speaks of his high school career as if it was a joyful memory and not something in which he is still a part. The teen displays an interesting mix of humility and playful confidence. This was particularly evident while discussing the Playstation-style statistics he racked up as a high school junior.

Last year Fehoko recorded 24.5 sacks and forced 12 fumbles. He might have been even more successful if a midseason ankle injury had not slowed him down. The recollection produces a slight smile and a suppressed knowing wink that, if allowed to appear, would be further evidence of that playful confidence.

A similar reaction arose when the subject turned to his max bench of 475 pounds and the 40 reps of 225 he recently put up. Earlier reports listed those numbers as 405 and 38, respectively. The 405 came as a sophomore, and his personal reps record puts him just two behind Cincinnati Bengals rookie center Russell Bodine, who led the 2014 NFL combine with 42 reps of 225.

Production brought attention, not all of it welcomed. Fehoko was recruited by schools large and not-so large. As a junior, he visited Cal, Stanford, Utah, BYU and Alabama. He was inundated with letters, phone calls and texts, and his parents’ Facebook account was bombarded with daily greetings and collegiate sales pitches.

The recruiting process can be difficult for a young person. Fortunately, Fehoko’s three older brothers — Sam, Whitley and VJ — had gone through the process and helped him differentiate between where he wanted to be and where he needed to be. That’s easier said than done, especially with Alabama head coach Nick Saban sitting across the table.

“When you are young in the process, when you are 15 or 16 and you start to get these offers, your head fills up and you get immature in the process,” says Fehoko, once again demonstrating his surprising maturity. “As you get older in the process, you start looking at where you fit, and it’s not about being the top dog. Now it’s about playing time, now it’s about coaching, now it’s about how you see yourself graduating in three or four years. To me, that’s what easily set colleges apart.”

That graduation timeline is no mistake. The 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive lineman has a 3.97 GPA and will graduate high school early, allowing him to begin his collegiate career at Texas Tech in the spring. A freshman “C” prevents a perfect 4.0. The mediocre grade still bothers the academically inclined family.

His mother, Linda, is a teacher at Farrington and, according to her biggest and youngest son, is in charge of playing time.

“You come home with a C and Dad has no say in whether you can play football or not. It’s all up to Mom.”

Fehoko chose the Big 12 school for several reasons. One is family. Brother Sam is a graduate assistant for the Red Raiders, and VJ is a linebacker. The other is that the rural campus is where he needs to be.

“Lubbock, Texas, is a football town. It’s small. There are not many distractions; you don’t have clubs. You have football, school and workouts. That’s what Lubbock is all about, and if you are a student-athlete there, you are going to love it because all you do is school, football and workouts. That’s all I want to do.”

Fehoko called the recruiting process a tiring and stressful blessing. His parents, Vili (the Warrior) and Linda, provided guidance but they allowed their son to determine the process. They had only one rule: Everyone gets a handwritten response no matter the interest or notoriety. How he handled such a challenge came down to one word: priority.

“When you prioritize what you have to do in life, what your goals are, what you set your mind to, everything is much easier. Football isn’t everything. I have school, I have Scouts, community service — you don’t get all caught up in all the football nonsense.”

And what about that meeting with college football’s most dour-looking coach? According to Linda, Breiden’s meeting with Saban lasted 20 minutes longer than the time allotted. He even managed to elicit a laugh out of the notoriously un-funny coach.

That might be his biggest accomplishment yet.

Farrington is ranked No. 6 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser football poll.

Homegrown is a new feature profiling Hawaii athletes, coaches, and organizers. If you know anyone deserving a feature, email