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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Offensive lineman's value measured in feet, not pounds

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Even at 380 pounds, Shayne Kajioka impressed coaches with quick feet. Now at 310, he's got a chance to start.

Advertiser library photo • Aug. 22, 2001

When it comes to evaluating offensive linemen, University of Hawai'i assistant football coach Mike Cavanaugh believes beauty is shin deep.

That was apparent in August 2000, when 6 foot 3 Shayne Kajioka reported to training camp weighing 380 pounds. While many line coaches would have done a gut check, Cavanaugh instead checked Kajioka's strong ankles and nimble feet.

"I noticed he has quick feet, and you need quick feet to be a good offensive lineman," Cavanaugh said.

After shedding 70 pounds in two years, Kajioka, now 310 pounds, entered the final week of spring training in a dead heat with Ryan Santos for the battle at right tackle.

"The job is up in the air," Cavanaugh said.

Kajioka was expected to serve as the top backup at right tackle and the two guard positions. But he has improved his endurance and eliminated his bad habit of "bouncy feet" — a technical glitch in which a lineman lifts his feet too high when moving laterally.

"You want your feet sliding, that way you have better balance," Cavanaugh said. "He was always bouncing his feet up and down. He made the adjustment. That's a tribute to him. He works hard, and it's showed in his improvement. Kaj is having a great spring."

Except at right tackle, the rest of the line appears set. If the season were to open today, Wayne Hunter would start at left tackle, Lui Fuata at left guard, Uriah Moenoa at center and Vince Manuwai at right guard. Yesterday, Moenoa practiced at right tackle, Fuata at center and Brandon Eaton at left tackle.

"I want to see all of our options, just in case we have to go in that direction," Cavanaugh said. "I want to see what each guy can do. Nothing is ever cut in stone."

A reel find: Imagine a music studio signing an artist based solely on a demo tape. It would be similar to the Warriors making an offer to Clifton Herbert after viewing a highlight tape.

UH coach June Jones remembered marveling at a recruiting videotape of Herbert, then a quarterback at Quartz Hills High in Palmdale, Calif.

"He probably was one of the quickest players I've ever seen on film," Jones said.

Herbert reported to training camp in 1999 intent on competing at defensive back. But before workouts one day, Jones asked Herbert if he would run a pass route. After Herbert easily chased down a Dan Robinson pass, Jones told him, "You'll stay at receiver."

"I said, 'OK,' and that was it," Herbert said.

The 5-foot-7, 160-pound Herbert was the right slotback on the first team during yesterday's workouts. "He'll contribute this year," Jones said.

Herbert, who can run 40 yards in 4.3 seconds, has worked on his speed by running up hills. He also runs 50- and 100-meter sprints on Punahou School's track.

"As long as I can help the team out, that's all that matters," he said.

On the move: Slotback Omar Bennett said he is enjoying the transition from wide receiver.

"It's cool," he said. "I think I can work against linebackers and safeties a little easier than against corners."

Bennett attended California as a freshman, then played at a junior college for two years. Because of a problem in transferring a credit, Bennett delayed enrolling at UH until this semester. He expected to spend his only season of UH eligibility at wide receiver, but was moved to slotback last week.

In previous years, the wide receivers ran deep patterns and the slotbacks were used on slants.

This coming season, the slotbacks are expected to go deep frequently.

At 6 feet, Bennett is the Warriors' tallest slotback. "If there's a high pass, I can go up and get it," he said.

Bennett said he needs to improve his quickness. He said he will return this summer to his family's home in California, where his father will help him improve his running form.

"I need to work on getting my rotation faster because I have long strides," he said. "I have to try and quicken my steps."