Warriors building a tradition
|||Faith made Forney a born-again player|
|||Ex-UH players just want a chance|
By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer
There sprouts along the mauka wall of room 319 in the University of Hawai'i athletic department complex the hopeful beginnings of football tradition.
It is, by way of reputation, coming to be known as the Warriors' "NFL Wall" and offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh is its curator.
Membership is exclusive, open to those UH offensive linemen, who, through hard work and perseverance, find their way into the NFL.
Their status is confirmed in action pictures, full-color symbols of pride for a program that wants to build, along with a winning record, a recruiting niche and a reputation as a production line to the pros.
This week has Cavanaugh measuring space on his wall for an addition, looking for an appropriate place alongside alumni Adrian Klemm and Kaulana Noa with which to properly induct Kynan Forney as the newest member in his hopeful long green line. It finds Cavanaugh going through photographer CW Pack's archives for the picture that would make it the best addition.
Somewhere around the fourth round, give or take, of this weekend's NFL Draft, there is the expectation that Forney should become the latest member of the club, the third offensive line draftee out of Manoa in two years.
All of which, when you think about it, would be remarkable for a school that until this time last year, had experienced five lean years without having anybody drafted at any position. It hadn't had an offensive lineman drafted in eight years.
Offensive lineman Leo Goeas, taken in the 1990 draft, had come and gone through a career that included four NFL teams before UH had another drafted at the position.
The omission was particularly sad for a school with such a fertile recruiting ground. It was galling for a school with the foundation of Goeas, Jesse Sapolu, Mark Tuinei, etc.
Which is why Cavanaugh's wall has taken on meaning beyond that of a photo gallery. "It is about setting a standard," Cavanaugh says. "We talk about setting standards all the time. We talk about having guys who want to work hard and do all the things it takes to make this one of the top offensive lines. That's what we're aiming for."
The NFL is the rich, six- and seven-figure prize Cavanaugh, a former assistant with the San Diego Chargers, holds up to help inspire players to buy into his dedication to technique. It is the carrot that he extends to keep them going through his unrelenting, no-decibels-spared, pursuit of excellence on the field and in the weight room.
Even before Forney's picture goes up, Cavanaugh is already mentally parceling out sections of the wall for the future, projecting where Manly Kanoa III, Lui Fuata, Vincent Manuwai and the rest might someday fit.
For as UH's "NFL Wall" expands so, too, should the success of the Warriors.