Hawaii defensive lineman Kalepo Naotala was seriously injured in a diving accident over the weekend.
In a statement released Monday night, the program said Naotala, a freshman from Newport News, Virginia, was hurt on Saturday off Waikiki Beach. Rainbow Warriors head coach Nick Rolovich told reporters that Naotala, who arrived on campus in January, has “a long journey ahead of him.”
“In six months, Kalepo has made such an impact on our team,” Rolovich said in a university release. “By being here, Kalepo has strengthened our football program and now it’s time for our program to stick together in support of him and his family. He is, and always will be, a Warrior. At this time, Kalepo and his family can use your thoughts and prayers.”
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According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, Naotala, 19, “appeared to hit his head” during a dive around 2:40 p.m. Saturday afternoon. No specifics were offered about Naotala’s injury.
Rolovich said some of Naotala’s teammates stayed in the hospital lobby overnight and his parents flew in from Virginia to be at his side.
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Naotala signed with Hawaii in 2016, but delayed enrollment until this spring in order to recover from a knee injury that required surgery. The school said he was expected to compete for playing time on the defensive line in the fall.
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Coming off a 7-7 record in 2016, the Rainbow Warriors open the 2017 season at UMass on Aug. 26.
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