WAILUKU - Jordan Hoiem, a senior linebacker at Baldwin High School and verbal commit to the University of Oregon, told coaches from both teams Monday that he has retired from football.
Hoiem said in a phone interview that he came to the decision "about two weeks ago because it was crunch time, the season was about to come up, so I figured I have got to decide here."
Hoiem said he doesn't have a passion for the game and his decision is not related to the death of Noe Ortiz, who died in October 2012 after living with the Hoiem family since Jordan was in the 5th grade.
"Nobody really knew because I didn't tell anybody, but my whole junior season I was really unhappy," Hoiem said. "I just didn't enjoy the sport of football. I played because I was getting recruited and that was my ticket to get an education, so I forced myself to do it, but I was really unhappy and it made me really unhappy in life, too."
Hoiem, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound three-star recruit for scout.com, had scholarship offers from Hawaii, Nevada-Las Vegas, Utah and Utah State before becoming the first verbal commitment for new Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich in March.
"I thought it was just a phase and once I commit it will be over," Hoiem said. "After the season was over I got out of whatever, all the unhappiness, and I was able to be happy training and feeling good. Then 3 1/2, four months ago, as the (2013) season started to come up again it was the same exact thing. I started to get really unhappy and that was right around the time coaches were saying, 'Hey, you have got to come out and play.' It feels like I choked - I was just really unhappy in day-to-day life.
"It kind of gave me a sign, like, 'Hey, this isn't what you should really be doing. It's not giving you any joy anymore.' "
Hoiem said he did enjoy football in his standout sophomore season when he arrived on college coaches' radar screens.
"That's when I started getting all of my attention," Hoiem said. "Before that, I didn't really enjoy football all that much. I was in the right place at the right time. I got all this attention, but I really don't believe that football is my path in life."
Despite media reports to the contrary, Hoiem said that the death of Ortiz did not factor into his decision.
"I don't think that has anything to do with it," he said. "People might say that, but I'm not going to use that as an excuse, like, 'Oh, this is why I'm not playing. You guys should feel bad for me because this happened.' It has nothing to do with that. ... I considered him part of the family, my brother, but definitely I don't think it played a part in me making this decision."
Hoiem said he will tryout for the Baldwin baseball team, the first time he has played that sport since 8th grade - he turned to football in 7th grade because his friends were playing the sport.
"Baseball was always my passion and that is what I thought I was going to be doing," Hoiem said. "I just love the game. Baseball was everything to me, I collected cards, I was a baseball fanatic."
In his first football game, Hoiem broke his wrist and tore his rotator cuff, stalling his baseball career at that point.
Football engulfed him in his sophomore season.
"Sophomore year, I enjoyed it I admit," Hoiem said. "I was just living life and was in the spotlight, I did well and people noticed me. I think my true colors showed after that in football - it just wasn't something I was that passionate about to play at the high level of college."
Hoiem said that he is done with football despite telling other reporters that he was leaving the door slightly open.
"I kind of said 'I don't know' in the other articles, but honestly I know in my heart that football is not my sport," he said. "But just the opportunity that it gave me, it has put a lot of confusion 'why can't I play so I can go to college ' And I keep trying to force it, maybe one day I will get it back and I can still do great things in football.
"In my heart, I'm not really a football player-type of person. ... football just isn't me."
Hoiem said informing Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti of his decision was difficult, but the Oregon football community was supportive.
"It is better off for me to tell them now so they can get a better recruit," Hoiem said. "They have time to figure stuff out. I would hate to play and then at the last minute leave them out of a recruit. I talked to Aliotti, he was really cool about it, their whole staff. They were just concerned about me as a person, they were worried about me as a person, they were worried about my life, which was awesome.
"I feel bad, but they are not making it as bad as I thought it would be. They were really supportive, so that's great."
* Robert Collias at firstname.lastname@example.org