Hawaii DL Kalepo Naotala Hospitalized After Suffering Head Injury While Diving

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2017

A Hawaii football helmet sits on a case before the start of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
Eugene Tanner/Associated Press

University of Hawaii defensive lineman Kalepo Naotala is in "pretty serious" condition and faces a "long journey" to recovery due to injuries suffered in a weekend accident.

On Monday, Brian McInnis of the Star Advertiser passed along an update from Rainbow Warriors head coach Nick Rolovich, who said the defender was with some teammates at Waikiki Beach on Saturday when he appeared to strike his head on a wall during a dive.

No details about the exact injuries were provided by Rolovich, who said: "We've seen improvement. We just know he's got a long journey ahead of him."

"We're...going to come together and push forward because of it," he added, per McInnis. "That's what I think this team will do. Because Kalepo means a lot to this team."

Naotala is the nephew of former NFL linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, according to his official bio on the Rainbow Warriors' athletics website, and waited until January to enroll at the school while recovering from a knee surgery. He's listed at 6'3'' and 300 pounds.

In 2016, he told Jackson Moore of Scout that a lot of interested schools backed off when he suffered a torn ACL, but Hawaii continued to recruit him.

"I'm very appreciative of Hawaii sticking with me, and I have a chip on my shoulder," Naotala said. "Especially when we play against other schools to play them harder because UH stuck with me."

Naotala was expected to fight for a place within the Warriors defensive line rotation, likely at tackle, heading into the 2017 season. The team is scheduled to open the campaign Aug. 26 against UMass at McGuirk Alumni Stadium.