No, Dylan McCaffrey is not Polynesian, but the Michigan commit quarterback is enjoying every moment of combining football and culture at this week’s Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii.
Even the haka.
“Haka practice was awesome,” he said. “I’ve still got some work some to do, but I tried. I wanted to get in there and give it a shot.”
McCaffrey, from Valor Christian in Colorado, is among the players not of Polynesian descent selected for Saturday’s inaugural Polynesian Bowl (10 p.m. ET, ESPN3). About 75 percent of the rosters are Polynesian.
“They approached me and my dad (former NFL receiver Ed McCaffrey) and said we would love to have you,” Dylan said. “Because I’m not Polynesian, it’s even more of an honor to be selected. I’m humbled and excited to get out there. I think I’d be crazy to turn down something like this and it’s been awesome so far.”
Among McCaffrey’s goals in Hawaii is to help convince defensive tackle Jay Tufele from Utah to pick Michigan. Tufele, the nation’s No. 3 defensive tackle, is also considering USC, Utah, Brigham Young and Ohio State.
“I’ve been talking to him and trying to get him to go to Michigan,” he said. “(Recruiting) has tapered off because we’ve gotten a lot of guys we wanted. There are some guys that we’re reaching for and hoping to get a last-second commitment. Oliver Martin is another guy I’ve been talking to.”McCaffrey, ranked as the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the final 247Sports Composite rankings, is coming off the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in which he completed 2-for-4 passing, including a 39-yard throw.
“I’ve been playing basketball recently so my body has shifted from football shape to basketball shape so it’s a little different,” he said. “You can go out and practice in the offseason and do something else, but there is nothing that is going to get you better as much as playing in a game. It’s great to take a couple of weekends to play against the top players in the country and it extends my high school football career a little longer.”
McCaffrey and his family decided for him not to enroll early at Michigan, which allows him to play in the game, after what McCaffrey described as a “long talk.”
“We were willing to and decided not to,” he said. “We talked with coach Harbaugh and coach (Jedd Fisch, the former Michigan quarterbacks coach who is now UCLA offensive coordinator) and they said to do what we thought was right and that I should get bigger, faster and stronger and they were looking forward to having me.”
McCaffrey said he wishes Fisch well and is happy for him to get a job he wanted, but his departure doesn’t affect his decision at all. “It’s just a bummer that I don’t get to learn from him.”