Closing the book on Katoa

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins confirmed what most Buffs fans have anticipated for months now. Linebacker Lynn Katoa is no longer on the football team and is transferring elsewhere. Hawkins said he didn’t know where Katoa had decided to go.

This much is clear, Katoa’s only real options in transferring will be to either a junior college or paying his way initially at another four-year school. He was on his way to being ineligible to play at CU in the fall and would not qualify for a scholarship from another program at this point.

Katoa was among the most highly recruited linebackers in the nation in the class of 2008 (fall of 2007). He possesses amazing physical talent, but it’s clear from his time here that he just couldn’t combine that ability with the determination and resiliency needed to also succeed as a student at the college level. Trust me, it wasn’t for lack of effort on the part of CU coaches.

The efforts of linebackers coach Brian Cabral to keep Katoa on the right path were huge by themselves. But Hawkins, Ron Collins, former graduate assistant Andy Avalos and others also did what they could to help the young man. Sometimes help from others will do no good if you don’t want to help yourself.

You can’t really fully address Katoa’s time in Boulder without mentioning the incident in spring 2008 that really got him started down the wrong path. He was arrested after entering an off-campus apartment and hitting a man while holding a rock in his hand. He told police he was upset after allegedly seeing a friend (former Buff Justin Nonu) attacked from behind with a taser.  He was charged with a felony and eventually plead guilty to charge that would have bee n reduced if he fulfilled all the requirements of the court’s decision.

The incident led to him being suspended from campus during spring 2008 and he was academically ineligible last fall because he was unable to complete enough credits.

I think Katoa could have made people forget the entire incident if he had returned to school last fall and attacked his classes with the same fire with which he pursues tailbacks. He could have restored his eligibility and been on the field for practices this spring where he surely would have had people excited to see him play this fall.

He needed to apply himself, bear down and focus. He didn’t do that. In fact, he did just the opposite, which is just too bad. The approach he took even left some of his teammates scratching their heads. It often amazes me how some young people just toss away opportunities such as a chance to play in the Big 12 Conference and earn a degree from the University of Colorado.

He already has three semesters under his belt, and you figure he will need at least three more just to get caught up academically. That would leave him two years of eligibility to play once he finally gets it all worked out. If he ever does.

Katoa had managed to overcome similar obstacles earlier in life, shunning gang life for a football. Let’s hope he is able to make the turn once again wherever he ends up and is eventually able to make the most of his ability on the gridiron while also earning a degree.

Any other outcome makes a mockery of all the hoopla and hype he enjoyed as a recruit two years ago.

About kyle

Daily Camera college sports beat writer since 2004. Previous experience covering the University of New Mexico and Denver Nuggets. A Colorado native.
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