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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Notebook: Warriors realign for spring drills

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

That last rumble was the University of Hawai'i football team shifting around its offensive linemen.

Wayne Hunter, who played defensive end last season, will be moved to left tackle for spring practice, which begins March 11.

Lui Fuata, last season's left tackle, becomes the left guard, and right tackle Uriah Moenoa will compete at center.

UH line coach Mike Cavanaugh confirmed the line changes yesterday, adding he believed all will be comfortable at their new positions by the start of next season.

"I have no concerns at all," said Cavanaugh, who developed four linemen into pro prospects in three seasons at UH.

The 6-foot-6, 280-pound Hunter, a Radford High graduate who played at California in 1999, endured injuries and illness last season. During some drills, Cavanaugh had the offensive and defensive linemen trade places, and it was then he noticed that Hunter had the skills to play offensive tackle.

"He's got a lot of attributes you look for in an offensive lineman," Cavanaugh said. "He has great height, long arms and good feet. He's very intelligent. To me, there are three things that make a good offensive lineman: You have to be smart, you have to be athletic and you have to be tough. He fits all three."

It was believed that Fuata would succeed center Brian Smith. But at 6 feet 3 and 309 pounds, Fuata is better suited for guard, Cavanaugh said.

Cavanaugh said Fuata and Vince Manuwai give UH two athletic guards who are skilled lead blockers on trap plays.

As for Moenoa, Cavanaugh said, "He's very smart. He will be a good center."

Cavanaugh said Ryan Santos, Charlie Dutre and Mike Holt are the top candidates to play right tackle.

Meanwhile, Rich Miano, who coaches UH's defensive secondary, said even if the Warriors do not sign another defensive back, they have enough talent to replace departed safeties Nate Jackson, Jacob Espiau and Robert Grant. Miano said the leading contenders entering spring practice will be Leonard Peters, Matt Manuma, Sean Butts, Chad Kapanui and Dan Berryman.

Don't forget: In calculating the number of scholarships available, it should be remembered that four players — defensive tackle Isaak Sopoaga, wide receiver Omar Bennett, and utility players Justin Faimealelei and Orlando Wong — count as part of this year's recruiting class. NCAA teams are limited to offering 25 scholarships to 25 first-year players each year.

Sopoaga and Bennett signed letters of intent last year, but did not meet the eligibility requirements to play. Both are enrolled at UH, although Sopoaga will not be eligible to play until training camp in August.

Faimealelei also appears to have met the requirement to play next season.

Wong, who signed with UH when he was a Kahuku High senior two years ago, returns from a church mission this spring. Wong was a quarterback at Kahuku, but now weighs 220 pounds, and might move to safety or linebacker.

Go long: UH coach June Jones is recruiting in Japan, and might secure a commitment from a prospect before he returns to Honolulu this weekend.

Jones also is exploring the possibility of UH playing a game in Japan.