The Wisconsin Badgers have shared a recent connection with the state of Hawaii in regards to recruiting, landing then-four-star outside linebacker Nick Herbig from Honolulu, Hawaii, as a main prospect in the Class of 2020.
The Badgers continued that connection with the transfer of safety Kamo’i Latu from Utah, who developed into a key starter for Wisconsin in 2022, amid injuries at the position, and held a strong relationship with fellow Hawaiian Nick Herbig on the team last season.
Then came wideout Trech Kekuhana, who initially committed to Wisconsin, but de-committed after the coaching chance to Luke Fickell before changing his mind over a span of a few days after a conversation with the esteemed head coach.
With Kekuhana, the new coaching staff continued a trend from before: creating a pipeline to the Hawaii region and looking to recruit impact players from the island.
That mission isn’t done yet, as the Badgers have their eyes set on highly-touted four-star outside linebacker Anelu Lafaele, who currently possesses 16 offers and is becoming more of a well-known commodity heading into his senior season.
As an outside linebacker, Lafaele possesses good athleticism and a high motor, although he’ll likely have some developing to do within the 3-3-5 system that Fickell operated under while with the Cincinnati Bearcats, as the outside linebacker will be tasked to also drop into coverage at times in the scheme.
In a way, Lafaele is a very similar prospect to Herbig, coming in at a similar size, while playing with correlated playstyles, but for the four-star prospect, the connection to Wisconsin goes far beyond football.
Hawaii is growing into a more prominent football state, which makes the connection between the island and Madison even more special, which Lafaele is looking to contribute to if he commits to Wisconsin.
“It would be amazing to continue the pipeline,” Lafaele told Bucky’s 5th Quarter. “Nick [Herbig] and Kamo’i [Latu] lit the path for me and it would be awesome to be able to show other kids from the islands that we can all make it out and be great!”
While Lafaele understands the lofty comparisons that would likely come between him and Herbig, the four-star edge rusher is ready for the challenge and excited to showcase his talents at the next level.
“[The comparisons are] a lot of weight to carry and it’s big shoes to fill. It’s gonna be a lot of pressure, but Keith Towers told me to ‘focus on playing for the glory of God and the pressure will fall short’. That tells me I’m going to just get up there and do my thing,” Lafaele said.
The Hawaiian linebacker acknowledged the concerns when former interim head coach Jim Leonhard and outside linebackers coach Bobby April departed, but Lafaele has belief in the new coaching staff and has appreciated the time with coach Fickell’s crew.
“It was tough to see Coach April and Jim Leonhard walk, but the new staff has made [me] feel like we can make Wisconsin great and be some national champs. The new coaching staff is awesome and I love [them],” Lafaele exclaimed.
While Lafaele is still uncertain about his recruitment, the four-star outside linebacker would be a huge get for the Badgers program, not only on the football field, but also in continuing to develop a pipeline between Wisconsin and Hawaii that should only continue to reap benefits for both sides.