New son, position: all good for Kapanui
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
HOUSTON This has been a November to remember for University of Hawai'i football player Chad Kapanui.
Yesterday, Kapanui, a third-year sophomore from Roosevelt High, made his first collegiate start, amassing four solo tackles in a 33-28 victory over Rice.
"It's been a good month," he said.
Kapanui, who was a three-sport All-Star at Roosevelt, has played four positions at UH. Yesterday, he started at outside linebacker, a position he learned specifically for the Rice game.
The Owls' base offense is a multiple-option running game, in which the quarterback can hand off to the fullback, run with the ball himself, or pitch it to a trailing halfback. UH defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa decided he needed quicker outside linebackers to defend the perimeters on option plays. Three weeks ago, Lempa auditioned four defenders. Kapanui, who was a strong safety at the time, was the clear winner.
"He's a physical guy," Lempa said.
Kapanui had to relinquish his duties on special teams he plays on all six units to prepare for Rice. What's more, he suffered a pulled right hamstring last week.
Kapanui said he relied on stretching exercises and ice treatments to alleviate the soreness.
"I tried to do everything to get my leg better because I knew I was going to be starting," he said.
Kapanui made consecutive big plays at the start of the second quarter. On the first, he chased down quarterback Kyle Herm. Then before the next snap, he shifted from the left side to the right while Herm was calling an audible, raced in and tackled halfback Vincent Hawkins for a 2-yard loss.
"I was doing my assignment," Kapanui said. "I had a certain guy (Hawkins) I had to follow. He goes in, I go in. He goes out, I go out. That's all it was."
Although this was supposed to be a one-shot deal, Kapanui's performance might lead to a continued run at outside linebacker. If not, Kapanui has said he received UH coach June Jones' blessing to try out at quarterback in spring practice. Kapanui was signed as a quarterback in February 2000, but moved to linebacker in training camp of that year. Since then, he has played running back and safety. He also is the emergency punter, kicker and long-snapper.
"I just want to play," he said. "I'll do whatever it takes to get on the field."