Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Ex-UH players just want a chance

 •  Faith made Forney a born-again player
 •  Ferd Lewis: Warriors building a tradition

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Football careers come with different expiration dates. Most are at the end of Pop Warner, some later.

Four players who recently completed their University of Hawai'i careers have pretty-please hopes of continuing at the pro level. While none is expected to be drafted this weekend, each hopes to secure an invitation to a National Football League mini-camp.

Most of all, Doug Sims, James Fenderson, Dee Miller and Robert Kemfort are not ready to get on with the rest of their lives.

• • •

Doug Sims is a rare blend of power and agility.

Advertiser library photo

Doug Sims can bench press 510 pounds and dunk a basketball. Most remarkably, the 6-foot-3 Sims weighs at least 340 pounds.

"No question," said Vantz Singletary, who coaches the UH defensive linemen, "he's a rare person."

In the 1999 O'ahu Bowl, the last game of Sims' first season at UH, he chased down Oregon State quarterback Jonathan Smith for a sack.

"We knew he was something special," Singletary said.

For spring practice last year, Sims weighed 330 pounds, and dominated every drill. Acknowledged as a run-stopper, he also proved to be a relentless pass-rusher.

But soon after, his mother died, and while he never spoke of the impact of her death, it was clear Sims had less passion for the sport.

"When he lost his mother, he lost his mindset," Singletary said.

Sims reported to training camp last August weighing nearly 380 pounds. He was nicknamed, "The Two-Play Wonder."

"After two plays, he needed a break," Singletary said. "If he could have lost the weight, he would have been magnificent."

Still, Sims worked to learn the game. Every day, Singletary and Sims watched videotapes together at dawn, then viewed tapes in the evening.

"When he first started, the only thing he knew about watching videotapes was popcorn," Singletary said.

"He never had guidance or training (in football) until he got to Hawai'i. Mentally, he's much more prepared now."

Because of the UH faculty strike, Doug Sims Sr. said

his son returned to the family's California home last night. "He's pretty upbeat" about his chances of earning a free-agent contract, Sims Sr. said.

• • •

The Minnesota Vikings have shown an interest in James Fenderson.

Advertiser library photo

Two years ago, James Fenderson was living in his pickup truck while attending UH as a non-scholarship player. Last summer, he entered training camp as the third running back in a one-back system.

Today, Fenderson is hopeful of landing a free-agent contract, with the Minnesota Vikings having shown the most interest. He worked out for the Vikings last month.

"I'm nervous," Fenderson said. "I just hope to get picked up."

Injuries to co-starters Avion Weaver and Afatia Thompson opened the way for Fenderson, who rushed for 651 yards last year, an average of 5.8 yards per carry. He played in the Hula Bowl, but was limited because of an injured right ankle.

"It's a lot better," Fenderson said of his right ankle. "I'm running sprints, gaining weight."

He now weighs 210, up 10 pounds from the end of last season. "I'm doing pretty much everything I can to get stronger," he said. "I hope I get my shot."

• • •

Dee Miller is hoping to make a comeback.

Advertiser library photo

The cover story — Dee Miller — is now on the back burner.

Last summer, Miller was featured on the cover of the UH football media guide as an All-America candidate.

But a hamstring injury cost Miller his speed, four games and, eventually, a starting job. The Senior Bowl ended up rescinding an invitation, and he also was not invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

But Miller remains optimistic. "I'm waiting on whoever wants to take me," he said. "I'm just staying in shape right now. Hopefully, somebody can get me into a camp. That's all I can hope for right now."

• • •

Robert Kemfort is working out and waiting for a chance.

Advertiser library photo

Robert Kemfort always seems to have the knack for doing the unexpected.

He was a record-setting running back at Maui High. But after playing wideout his first two seasons at UH, he moved to outside linebacker, where he excelled.

This year, he became the first Maui resident to play in the Hula Bowl.

Now, he would like a shot in the pros.

"I have mixed feelings," said Kemfort, who has not received any solid offers. "I've been working out, but I don't know if I'll get the chance. All I can do is hope."