‘23 UT EDGE Tausili Akana

May 12, 2020
The four-star Class of 2023 linebacker from Kahuku (Hawaii) High School said he’s a cousin of former Tennessee defensive tackle J.T. Mapu, and he remembers passing through Tennessee’s campus while he and his family were in the area for a vacation in the nearby Great Smoky Mountains. He said he “really wanted to check out Tennessee,” and he enjoyed getting his first look at the Vols on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-3.5, 215-pound Akana picked up a scholarship offer from Tennessee during the visit, and he said the Vols made a strong impression on him while he was there.

“I really like the facilities, how they’re really close together,” said Akana, who’s ranked by 247Sports as the No. 27 overall prospect and No. 1 linebacker in the 2023 class. “And I really like how the dorms and stuff are right across the street, right outside the facilities, so that’s also something good.

“The coaches, they’re really welcoming, cool guys. When I came there, they were all there to welcome me. It’s just really good.”
Akana said he visited Georgia on Monday, and he’s planning to travel to Auburn on Wednesday. He said he was naturally interested in Tennessee because of his cousin’s experience there.

“I had a cousin play there — J.T. Mapu,” Akana said. “He was there, so that’s one reason I also wanted to check it out. And as a little kid we visited Memphis one time, and we actually drove past the school and stuff to go visit Dollywood, the (theme) park. Ever since then, I’ve seen the campus and I always wanted to check it out once I got older.”

He said he “was still young, so I didn’t really remember” much about his brief look at Tennessee’s campus when he was younger. But he was impressed by everything he saw during his visit with the Vols on Tuesday, and he said first-year coach Josh Heupel’s staff is one of the reasons he’s intrigued by Tennessee.

“I’d say the staff and J.T. (having played there),” Akana said, referring to his cousin. “I just like how the staff is very welcoming, and they were really nice.”
Akana said he has a good relationship with Mapu, who played for the Vols in 2006-07.

“He actually lives right down the road from me,” Akana said of Mapu. “He’s not too far from me in Hawaii. My dad and J.T. actually work together.”
Akana said he spent plenty of time during the visit with multiple members of the Vols’ staff, led by Mike Ekeler, Tennessee’s outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator.

“He said that they would use me at the Leo (position),” Akana said of Ekeler. “He said what they really like about my game is how I’m long and I can move and not just rush the passer, but also drop into coverage.”

Heupel informed Akana of his offer from the Vols during the visit.

“I was super excited,” Akana said. “SEC, that’s a good conference, big conference. But I was just super excited.”

While Tennessee is farther from home than many of the schools pursuing him, he said he doesn’t expect geography to be an obstacle for the Vols and other SEC teams.

“I really don’t see it as a problem,” he said. “As of right now, I’m living in Utah. My parents are all in Hawaii still, so that’s good. My sister’s all the way in Nebraska. She plays volleyball. I’m not really worried about the distance because, I mean, if anything, it’s just a plane ride.”

CO Vol

Well-Known Member
Jun 26, 2008
My newest neighbors in Farragut the last six months are from California and New York! Believe the hype, but the bonus is my house value has increased 25% in one year, that’s nuts!

On the other hand, I’d prefer less growth/value as this will permanently and negatively affect Knox County communities IMO.

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