Friday, February 2, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, February 2, 2001

UH peeks down the QB Rhode

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Columnist

Two by two the football recruits have been coming aboard for the University of Hawaii football team, almost like Noah’s Ark.

Two linebackers, two offensive linemen, two defensive linemen, two running backs ....

At least one of most everything, it seemed, but a quarterback.

If there was one position under-represented in the Warriors’ early commitments it was The Position. If there was one position that most people expected to go unfilled come national letter of intent day, it was this one.

And it wasn’t hard to understand why. When Tim Chang emerged as the Warriors’ quarterback this past season, it gave UH the rare luxury of somebody to fill the starting job for three more years.

As much as a bonus as that is for the future, it also became something of a glaring obstacle in recruiting for the short term.

Which is why the commitment from Jeff Rhode from Eugene, Ore. yesterday was promising.

For when it comes to quarterback, one can be a crowd, especially if he is the Western Athletic Conference freshman of the year.

Next to a blitz, the thing that makes quarterbacks scramble the most is a top-heavy depth chart. And going into the 2001 season, the Warriors certainly have that. Not only is Chang returning a season wiser and more experienced by nine starts, there are both Nick Rolovich and Jared Flint returning.

If the Warriors weren’t able to land a quarterback, it wouldn’t have surprised too many people. Indeed, if they did come up with one on the Feb. 7 signing day, it figured to be something of an upset.

Not that UH had given up hope. "We’ve still been getting some interest from players out there," Dan Morrison, the quarterback coach said. "We’re still getting tapes in the mail."

Indeed, with their run-and-shoot offense and proven numbers put up over two seasons among the top 10 in passing, the Warriors still had something to sell. The question, however, was would there be any buyers?

Which is why the commitment from Rhode, a 6-foot-6, 220-pounder, was a hopeful sign for the future. Rhode, who threw 16 touchdown passes with only one interception during the regular season this past year at Churchill High, looks like the right kind of fit for the Warriors’ plans. He’s not deluded enough to believe he’s going to crack the starting lineup anytime soon and apparently patient enough to recognize the benefits of an extended internship.

As somebody who threw only 39 passes as a junior — his team ran a double wing offense before moving to a conventional passing offense as a senior — Rhode and the Warriors could benefit from what figures to be a red-shirt season and backup time.

All in all, it looks like the right fit for a place on the recruiting list that seemed likely to go empty.

Ferd Lewis has been reporting on Hawaii sports since 1973.

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