He played both sides of the football in high school and junior college, but Anchorage’s Justice Augafa will have to focus on defense when he gets to the University of Hawaii.
The hard-hitting 5-foot-11, 205-pounder out of Los Angeles Harbor College in California signed with the NCAA D1 FBS school of the Mountain West Conference and will have two years of eligibility.
“I was recruited as a hybrid safety. A safety that can help with run support, blitz efficiently and help in pass coverage. A two-birds-with-one-stone position,” he told me. “I’ll also be on kick return. But I will definitely be in my coach’s ear about seeing playing time on the offensive side of the ball.”
Augafa, of South High fame, played all over the field for LA Harbor. He scored touchdowns on offense and defense. He played quarterback, defensive back and running back. He returned kickoffs.
The utility man was named first team All-Central League in the Southern California Football Association.
He credited the LA Harbor coaches for preparing him for the next level and teaching him how to effectively prepare for game day.
“Scouting reports, hours of film and pure execution during practice were many factors that I know I’m going to see at the University of Hawaii,” Augafa said.
Still, he warned others that the JC route isn’t for everyone.
“It’s an all our nothing, day-in and day-out grind and struggle,” he said.
His hard work wasn’t for naught. Augafa was recruited by San Diego State, Washington State and TCU before he settled on Hawaii. He instantly connected with the Hawaii coaches and felt like the program was going the right direction under Nick Rolovich, who is in his second season as head coach.
“The coaching staff is looking to bring me in to start right away. With that being said, I’m without a doubt going to have to show up and immediately put in work to prove to the staff and the team that I’m here to play ball,” Augafa said. “But one thing that helps a program excel is competition. So even if I do show up a starter there’ll be another guy competing for my spot.”
In Alaska, Augafa was the state’s offensive player of the year in 2014 in addition to being an all-state safety. He accumulated 1,360 yards on the ground and scored 20 touchdowns. He also had five TDs on special teams.
In California, he was a ball-hawking defensive back that hit like a linebacker and ran like a wide receiver. His 40 time is 4.5 seconds.
In just seven games he recorded 29 tackles, a sack, five pass breakups, a fumble recovery and two interceptions. He scored two touchdowns on defense, one a recovered fumble and another on a 42-yard pick six.
On offense, Augafa racked up 402 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. He shined as a wildcat quarterback, where he could display his skills as a powerful runner between the tackles.
“One thing that helped a lot with my game were the talks my father and I would have growing up,” Augafa said. “He related playing defense to being a heat seeking missile and he would always say ‘See ball, get ball.’ It was that was simple.”
Augafa is eager to test his gridiron skills against fellow D1 athletes from all over the country because he badly wants to prove that Alaskans can play football with the big boys, even if we hail from a small state.
“Everywhere I went I made sure people knew I was from Alaska,” he said proudly. “I try to find ways to help players get out of Alaska to continue their education and careers as football players. I’ve talked to the coaching staff at the University of Hawaii about recruiting Alaska and they were already ahead of me. They plan on sending coaches up there to recruit that area soon.”