WAILUKU - Jordan Hoiem is part of an illustrious line of Baldwin High School linebackers, but on Tuesday afternoon he was definitely No. 1.
The Bears' standout junior, the top-ranked prospect in the state for the class of 2014 and a four-star performer according to Rivals.com, became the first player in the University of Oregon's next class when he verbally committed to a scholarship in a telephone call with Ducks defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti.
Hoiem is the first recruit for Oregon's new head coach Mark Helfrich, who took over when Chip Kelly left for the Philadelphia Eagles in January. Helfrich finished sealing Kelly's class on signing day in February, but Hoiem will go down as Helfrich's first true recruit.
‘I don’t understand how kids who have offers from them — and if they have been there — how they don’t want to just commit right away.’
– Jordan Hoiem
Jordan Hoiem, shown celebrating a touchdown run by Baldwin teammate Dusty Flores during a game in October, took part in an Oregon camp in 2011.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"I'm the first to commit and that's a real honor," Hoiem said Wednesday. "It's amazing. I mean, ever since I went up there for the first time it is where I wanted to go. I don't understand how kids who have offers from them - and if they have been there - how they don't want to just commit right away. I have nothing else I want to see. I'm stoked and I'm super excited to be going there."
After a junior season in which a stress fracture in his foot limited him to four games for the Maui Interscholastic League Division I champions, Hoiem was starting to wonder if the call from his dream school would ever come.
"I saw that other kids were getting offers, so I was getting kind of worried," he said.
Hoiem called Upcountry strength trainer David Kamalani, the father of Oregon senior linebacker Keloni Kamalani, and the elder Kamalani immediately phoned Hoiem back with good news.
"I was wondering if I should start looking at other programs," Hoiem said. "It was just a coincidence that I called him (Tuesday) right after everything happened and (David Kamalani) said, 'Yeah, I just talked to (Oregon offensive coordinator) Scott Frost.' He told coach David that they were going to offer me."
Oregon has been at the top of Hoiem's wish list since he excelled at a camp there in 2011. Before Tuesday, he had offers from Hawaii, Nevada-Las Vegas, Utah and Utah State, making him the most-recruited underclassman football prospect ever from the MIL.
"I was just blown away when (Aliotti) offered and I told him that, 'Definitely, you have my word that I will be attending Oregon when I graduate,' " Hoiem said. "I'm honored that they offered."
Hoiem has put on about 15 pounds since the end of the season, when he was listed at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, with the help of former Baldwin standout Jojo Dickson.
Dickson starred at Idaho and has had multiple tryouts at NFL camps. His sister, Baldwin softball player Kylie Dickson, is Hoiem's girlfriend.
"He told me how to lift and how to eat," Hoiem said of Jojo Dickson. "I have been stuck - I know I'm a linebacker, but I have to get my weight up."
Baldwin's linebacker legacy also includes Kaluka Maiava, a four-year NFL veteran who signed with the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday.
"I look up to Jojo and Kaluka and they have been here and they have done it," Hoiem said.
"Both those guys are very inspirational and they get me motivated."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org