Pili dons USC hat to signify intentions on National Signing Day
Then he proved himself on the field, landing two NCAA D1 offers after his first game at Westview. Eventually, the word got out on Pili and Power Five conferences came calling.
In the end, the 6-foot-4, 310-pound nationally ranked defensive lineman picked the Rose Bowl champion University of Southern California Trojans of the Pac-12.
The 18-year-old announced his decision live on ESPN3 during the inaugural Polynesian Bowl last night in Honolulu, Hawaii, by putting on a USC cardinal red and gold hat to signify his intentions for National Signing Day on Feb. 1.
“I really liked their program and their coaches are great as well,” he told me. “It’s great to play in the Pac-12 because most of my games will be a short flight for my family to come watch.”
Pili, of Dimond High fame, picked the Trojans of Los Angeles, California, over a slew of other schools, most notably Notre Dame, Ole Miss, UCLA, Central Florida and Hawaii.
At the Polynesian Bowl, Pili was able to showcase his talent against some of the top high school players from all over the nation. The event also offered him a chance to broadcast his decision under the bright lights of ESPN.
“It felt great announcing my commitment on ESPN and being part of the inaugural Polynesian Bowl,” Pili said. “It meant a lot to me and my family.”
Pili was joined at the game by his family, including his sister Alissa, the reigning Cook Inlet Conference girls basketball player of the year. Just a sophomore, she’s already received a scholarship offer from Hawaii.
Pili said leaving Alaska was necessary for him to gain the exposure needed to show that he could play football for a Power Five school.
“If I would’ve stayed in Alaska I would probably be going to a D1-AA or D2 school,” he said.
He earned all-conference honors in his only season at Westview, but was considered one of the most explosive defensive players in the state.
Once he arrived in Oregon, he took the field with a sense of urgency.
“I just played fast and played kinda selfish,” Pili said. “I didn’t wait for anyone to make plays. I stepped up to do it.”
The next time he steps on the field, it will be as a member of the USC Trojans.
“I’m ready for the next level because of my strength and speed, and mostly my size,” Pili said.