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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 3, 2003

Rhode passes on baseball to sharpen quarterback skills

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

For University of Hawai'i quarterback Jeff Rhode, America's pastime left little time for football.

So Rhode, who spent his first year at UH as a two-sport athlete, quit the baseball team to focus on football.


"I really couldn't do both (sports) anymore," Rhode said. "It was really hard. You're always neglecting one (sport) at the worst time. You're neglecting football in the spring, when (depth) charts are changing, and you're neglecting baseball during fall training. I had to make a decision."

The choice was eased because the football program is paying for Rhode's scholarship. It also helped that the 6-foot-5, 238-pound redshirt freshman is believed to have a brighter future as a quarterback than a pitcher.

The move already has been beneficial. Rhode has reduced his time in the shuttle-run tests, increased his strength and lost seven pounds.

"I feel I can move better," said Rhode, who trimmed his love handles with repetitions of 100 sit-ups in two minutes.

Rhode also is grasping the complexities of the Warriors' run-and-shoot passing offense. In high school, Rhode recalled, "I certainly handed the ball off a lot. I learned a little about passing my senior year, and I definitely, definitely, definitely learned a lot last year (at UH) and then this year. It's been like school all over again on a football field."

Rhode admitted his past problems were a result of trying "to aim" his passes. This spring practice, "I'm letting the passes go. The accuracy is going to come."

Rhode is competing against Jason Whieldon, Ryan Stickler and Kainoa Akina for the job as top backup to starter Tim Chang. Rhode said he is more concerned about his own development, adding, "Sooner or later I'll be good enough. It's a matter of working hard. I'll get there eventually."

• Slot is back: Slotback Nate Ilaoa said he is successfully rehabilitating from arthroscopic surgery to correct a subluxation in his right shoulder.

Ilaoa said his shoulder "kept popping out of the socket" because of loose ligaments. The surgeon "tightened everything up, and now I'm trying to get my range of motion back."

Ilaoa has competed on a limited basis in spring practice.

Ilaoa was expected to begin a two-year church mission this summer. But he said he did not complete the necessary paper work in time. He said he plans on beginning his mission in the summer of 2004.

• Double duty: UH media relations director Lois Manin has written two songs that will appear on an upcoming CD produced by Still Pounding Studios.

Manin is the spokeswoman for the UH athletic department.