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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Warrior safety Kapanui switching to linebacker

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

It's too bad University of Hawai'i football player Chad Kapanui doesn't earn frequent-mover points.

• WHAT: WAC football, San Jose State (4-5, 2-2) at Hawai'i (6-2, 5-1)

• KICKOFF: Saturday at 6:05 p.m.

• TV/RADIO:Live on Oceanic Digital 255 and 256 (pay per view) 6:05 p.m. Delayed on K5 at 10 p.m./Live on 1420 AM

Kapanui, who has played four positions since joining the Warriors as a freshman in 2000, is on the move again. He has switched from strong safety to outside linebacker. What's more, he said he plans to compete at quarterback in spring practice.

"I think I've been in every meeting room," said Kapanui, a third-year sophomore from Roosevelt High.

Kapanui was a quarterback in training camp in 2000 before moving to linebacker. He then played running back, moved to linebacker again and, this season, opened at strong safety. He also plays on all of the special teams, including serving as the upback, a position regarded as the quarterback of the punt unit.

"He's a versatile guy," UH defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said.

In an attempt to boost the run defense, Lempa decided to move Kapanui to outside linebacker. "He's an athletic, tough guy," Lempa said. "He can play man-to-man and he can play the run."

Lempa said he is devising a plan to feature Kapanui against Rice, a run-option team. To prepare for that Nov. 16 game, Kapanui will be used at weakside linebacker against San Jose State Saturday. With a bye the following week, Kapanui then will have two weeks to adjust to outside linebacker.

Associate head coach George Lumpkin said Kapanui is better prepared for his third try at linebacker. Lumpkin, who coaches the linebackers, said Kapanui weighed about 245 pounds last year.

"He just couldn't move," Lumpkin said. "He couldn't cover anybody. He wasn't quick enough."

Kapanui, who moved to safety in spring practice in March, went on a vigorous summer conditioning program. The 6-footer weighed 205 pounds when he reported to training camp in August.

"He came in quicker, and it seems his weight has stabilized," Lumpkin said.

When Lempa suggested that Kapanui should move from safety to linebacker, Lumpkin recalled saying, "Bring him on."

"Chad is a good athlete," Lumpkin added, "and I welcome all good athletes. It means more competition, and more competition makes better football players."

Plus, Lumpkin said, there was "no trade, either. He's a freebie."

Kapanui said he has willingly agreed to all of the moves, even though "it's hard when you keep moving around. You kind of forget the plays and you have to learn them again. It's hard, but I'm trying to get on the field, so right now, I don't really care where I play as long as I get to play."

Lempa said: "What he has to do is find a home, some place he will play permanently. He can play a lot of different positions, but we need to find him a spot."

In the practices leading to the previous two games, Kapanui was used as the scout team quarterback. Last week, he met with UH coach June Jones, and both decided Kapanui should give it another shot at quarterback. Jones asked Kapanui to wait until spring practice before returning to quarterback. Kapanui agreed, although he has received snaps at quarterback during UH's offensive drills.

"I'm trying to learn the offensive plays," Kapanui said.

If that experiment doesn't work, Kapanui has one other option. He said he would like to try out for the UH baseball team as a pitcher or catcher.