By: Logan Newman, USA TODAY High School Sports | November 21, 2018
There’s a picture of former Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas in his 2003 U.S. Army All-American jersey.
It inspired Enokk Vimahi, an offensive tackle from Kahuku High School (Hawaii).
“Ever since I saw him play, you know, how impressive of a career he’s had, I’ve always wanted to be like him and be an Army All-American as well, Vimahi said.”
So far, he’s following in Thomas’ footsteps. On Wednesday afternoon, Vimahi received his All-American Bowl jersey Friday at his school as part of the All-American Bowl Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance.
The four-star Kahuku athlete is the No. 2 player in the state and No. 7 offensive tackle in the country, according to 247 Sports.
As an Eagles fan, Vimahi models his game after Jason Peters.
I feel like for myself, kind of a quick-footed exterior guy, really prolific in pass-pro, and I feel like my technique on the outside has helped me this far with quick defenders off the edge and then just having that power in the run game,” Vimahi said.
But Thomas and Peters aren’t the only people he looks up to.
As a high school football player in Hawaii, Vimahi is continuing a state’s proud legacy of the sports and is trying to become an inspiration for kids the way players like Manti Te’o, Tua Tagovailoa and Marcus Mariota were for him.
Vimahi stressed the importance of “being a role model for the generation ahead of us.”
“We look up to a lot of the players recently who have given Hawaii more notoriety when it comes to high school recruiting,” he said.
With those players attracting the attention of the nation, people from the mainland are beginning to take more notice of Hawaii football.
Calling the sport a big part of Hawaii culture is an understatement.
“Football’s like a religion around here,” Vimahi said. “That’s kind of the joke that comes and goes around here, so we take it very seriously and we make sure that we’re in top shape every year.”
Still undecided on school, listed Oklahoma, USC, Notre Dame and Nebraska as “some of the ones that stand out right now.”
“I want to go to a program that is competitive as well both on and off the field,” he said. “Academically challenging as well as their conference and their schedules.”
Perhaps with the All-American game and his play in college, he can enter the lore of the Hawaiian stars before him.
“I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a kid, just watching all the other All-Americans go before me,” Vimahi said. “It’s an honor.”
The All-American Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 5 in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas and will be televised live on NBC at 1 p.m. EST.