Four-star defensive end Canton Kaumatule's junior football campaign was a painful one. While his Punahou High School team enjoyed an undefeated season, Kaumatule struggled through several injuries.
Before the season even began, Kaumatule suffered a torn labrum. He played through the pain all year, before sustaining a partial tear in his patellar tendon during the semifinal game of the playoffs.
"I kept getting injured over and over again last season," Kaumatule said. "It was kind of a bummer because I was so prepared during the summer and during summer camp I was getting good reps and then next think I know I (injure) my shoulder and then I pulled my hamstring (and then injure my knee)."
Fortunately for Kaumatule, his recovery from those ailments is nearly complete.
"I'm about to get cleared within the next two weeks, so that's good news," Kaumatule said. "And then I'll get back into training again."
Kaumatule has kept in close contact with Stanford throughout his recruitment. He stays in touch with his regional recruiter, Lance Anderson, and potential future position coach, Randy Hart. Both Hart and Anderson checked in on Kaumatule last week at his high school.
"We're really close because I've known them since they've been recruiting Luke, maybe four or five years ago," Kaumatule said. "We've known them for a while. Now it's just casual, basically like family friends already. Of course they check up on me all the time."
While some have projected Kaumatule as a left tackle at the college level, Stanford - and most of the schools involved in his recruitment - like him on defense.
"I'm pretty sure most colleges out there are recruiting me for d-line but if they ever need me on the offensive side then I wouldn't mind," Kaumatule said. "Whatever I can contribute to my team (I'll do)."
In addition to Stanford, Kaumatule said that he speaks the most with coaches from Oregon, USC, Vanderbilt, UCLA, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. As has been the case for the duration of his recruitment, the Cardinal is atop Kaumatule's list
"Of course Stanford is always No. 1… but my dad thought it wasn't a good idea if I just limited myself to just that one school so early," Kaumatule said. "So I really started talking to a lot of coaches. And pretty much the majority of the coaches we've talked to so far are the ones I'm mostly interested in, which is, again, Oregon, UCLA, USC, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma."
Kaumatule plans to take one or two official visits next fall during his football season, then the remainder of his trips immediately following the conclusion of the season.
Should Kaumatule end up signing with Stanford, he'd join a fellow Hawaii native - current Cardinal commit Rex Manu - on The Farm. Manu and Kaumatule attended Punahou High School together when they were freshmen and have known each other for years.
"Me and Rex go way back," Kaumatule said. "He used to be my best friend. I haven't had the chance to talk to him about it too much but I can say he's really excited and Stanford has always been his dream school."
Kaumatule would overlap with his brother, Luke, for one season should Canton attend Stanford. And now that Luke has been moved from tight end to defensive end, the brothers could potentially be in the same position group on The Farm.
"Me and Luke played back in the day and when we played together it was a great experience because I look up to my older brother," Canton said. "Being on the same side of the field with him was a great experience so it would be awesome if I was able to play with him again. We know each other, we have each other's back. We're literally family. That goes a long way, you know."
As he prepares for his final season of high school football, Kaumatule is taking steps to ensure that he stays healthy and plays to his potential on the field. He's picked Luke Kaumatule's brain for some advice.
"Now (I'm focusing on) my flexibility and getting stronger with my different muscles to make sure I don't get hurt again," Kaumatule said. "Once I get back on the field, my brother Luke was telling me to emphasize pad level and hand placement so I'm going to be working on that. He also told me to practice watching film. We're in high school, we probably watch film as a team maybe once every now and then. Luke was telling me some of the best players spend hours on film. I started off by watching offensive linemen highlights, watching how they play, how quick they are off the ball, how high they are, leverage. There's a bunch of things I still need to polish up. I'm always hungry, never satisfied, and there's always room for improvement."
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