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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, August 24, 2003

Warriors end training camp

 •  Probable starters

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

The University of Hawai'i football team's drama-filled training camp — which featured quarterback Tim Chang's suspension for the season opener, the disclosure of head coach June Jones' original contract after a four-year battle, and the arrival of former Saint Louis School coach Cal Lee as a defensive assistant — will come to an anticlimactic end with tonight's practice at Aloha Stadium.

Because of the NCAA's policy of limiting two-a-day practices, this was the Warriors' longest training camp — 20 days, six more than last year — in Jones' five years in Manoa.

The camp's length likely led to the high number of muscle strains, even though Jones restricted contact drills. There was one intrasquad scrimmage this year.

Still, the UH coaches were able to extensively evaluate the newcomers and create competition at every position. Here's a review of training camp:


Quick look: As late as Wednesday, the Warriors were prepared to open the season with Chang, trumpeted by the school as a candidate for the Heisman Trophy as the nation's best player. But when the NCAA suspended Chang for Saturday's game against Appalachian State — he failed to earn at least six credits during the 2002 fall semester before playing in the Hawai'i Bowl last Christmas — UH scrambled to reorganize the depth chart. The concern was not with Jason Whieldon, Chang's immediate successor, but at the lower tiers. Jeff Rhode, who ascends to No. 2, received few snaps in contact drills in the days before Chang's suspension was announced.

Biggest surprise: Whieldon, who was the solid No. 2 entering the 2002 season, fell off the depth charts last September after returning to the team following a one-week leave because of family problems. But Whieldon reclaimed the backup job with a strong spring, and this summer, he further distanced himself from Rhode and Ryan Stickler.


Quick look: There were concerns about finding a successor to short-yardage specialist Thero Mitchell (11 TDs last year). John West and Mike Bass, expected to share the job, were pushed by Michael Brewster. "I think Brewster, overall, has been the most consistent player," Jones said. West Keliikipi, a 6-foot-1, 266-pound freshman, has been impressive in short-yardage situations and as a sixth blocker.

Biggest surprise: West, the self-styled "Johnny Blaze," has improved his blocking and increased his speed. He can run 40 yards in 4.4 seconds, 0.2 quicker than last year. It is hard to imagine that West, who received several Division I-A offers, actually recruited UH.


Quick look: The four who entered atop the depth chart — wideouts Britton Komine and Jeremiah Cockheran, and slotbacks Chad Owens and Nate Ilaoa — maintained their lead. But freshman wideout Jason Rivers, before being slowed by a pulled left hamstring, and slotback Ross Dickerson closed the gap.

Biggest surprise: The respect of Cockheran was evident in his selection as co-captain. Cockheran, who has lived in Hawai'i only 13 months, has seven career starts. But Cockheran, a Californian who transferred from Chaffey College in 2002, was the clear favorite on a team in which 60 percent of the players were raised in Hawai'i. "He's a great guy," said Chang, noting that Cockheran lived with his family in Mililani this summer. Even when bothered by a sprained right ankle, Cockheran runs pass routes after every practice. "He works hard and he's very intense," Jones said. "He's a leader."


Quick look: Second-year freshmen Samson Satele and Dane Uperesa proved they are ready to bookend a line that lost three starters to the NFL. After reporting to camp greatly overweight, Uriah Moenoa, who moved from right tackle, has settled in at right guard.

Biggest surprise: True freshmen Jeremy Inferrera, Larry Sauafea and Michael Lafaele not only have made an easy transition to Division I-A football, they pushed for significant playing time. Original plans to redshirt the three have been put on hold, even though Sauafea (pulled groin muscle) and Lafaele (sprained left ankle) are battling injuries. "I think our true freshman class is the best one we've had since I've been here," Jones said.


Quick look: The starting down linemen, promoted as the school's best in more than a decade, have practiced two times together since the Aug. 5 start of training camp. Right end Travis LaBoy has been limited because of a menu of injuries, and left tackle Isaac Sopoaga is restricted because of lower-back pain. Both should start in the opener.

Biggest surprise: Keali'i Aguiar, a 6-foot-1, 325-pound senior, has excelled as Sopoaga's understudy. The difference between his play last year and this year is "like night and day," line coach Vantz Singletary said. "Sometimes, he's going against the starters (on the offensive line), and he's thrown some of them around. By far, he's the most improved of any of our linemen."


• Quick look: Despite last year's three starters completing their eligibility in December, UH has managed to increase the depth at linebacker. Watson Ho'ohuli, who did not play last season because of personal reasons, has been impressive as the top backup to middle linebacker Chad Kalilimoku. "We have six or seven guys who look like they are very good linebackers," Jones said. "I think we'll be solid there."

Biggest surprise: As much as they tried, the coaches could not provide more playing opportunities for Kalilimoku last season. Awarded a starting job the day after the Hawai'i Bowl, Kalilimoku has been a dominant player in training camp. "He's turned it up a notch," Jones said. Kalilimoku can bench press a maximum 500 pounds, as well as bench 225 pounds 34 times.


Quick look: Strong safety Hyrum Peters, who has been slowed by a strained right calf, will resume practicing tonight. With the speedy Leonard Peters claiming the job at free safety, and Abraham Elimimian and Kelvin Millhouse returning at the corners, Hyrum Peters is free to become the linebacker-like rover.

Biggest surprise: Lamar Broadway, a high school quarterback who played cornerback as a UH freshman, is embracing his new role as nickelback and backup free safety. His training as a cornerback makes him an effective one-on-one defender in the middle of the field. "He's frickin' working hard, and that's why he's getting more playing time," Jones said.


Quick look: For the opener, Kurt Milne, a second-year freshman from Georgia, is the successor to punter Mat McBriar. Whieldon has become such a skilled holder that, even as the No. 1 quarterback, he will continue to do that job.

• Biggest surprise: Dickerson, stuck behind the logjam at slotback, will show off his speed and elusiveness as a kick returner.

• • •


LWR Britton Komine 5-10 184 Jr.
LSB Chad Owens 5-9 174 Jr.
LT Samson Satele 6-3 289 Fr.
LG Shayne Kajioka 6-3 302 Sr.
C Derek Faavi 6-1 273 So.
RG Uriah Moenoa 6-2 345 Jr.
RT Dane Uperesa 6-5 318 Fr.
RSB Nate Ilaoa 5-9 211 So.
RWR Jeremiah Cockheran 6-0 190 Sr.
QB Jason Whieldon 6-0 191 Sr.
RB John West 5-10 180 Sr.
or Mike Bass 5-7 174 Jr.
LE Houston Ala 5-11 240 Sr.
LT Isaac Sopoaga 6-3 336 Sr.
RT Lance Samuseva 6-0 309 Sr.
RE Travis LaBoy 6-4 254 Sr.
SLB Keani Alapa 6-1 229 Sr.
MLB Chad Kalilimoku 5-11 240 Sr.
WLB Ikaika Curnan 5-11 218 So.
LCB Kelvin Millhouse 6-1 206 Sr.
SS Hyrum Peters 5-8 190 Sr.
FS Leonard Peters 6-1 181 So.
RCB Abraham Elimimian 5-10 191 Jr.
LS Tanuvasa Moe 6-0 220 So.
H Jason Whieldon 6-0 191 Sr.
PK Justin Ayat 5-11 205 Jr.
P Kurt Milne 6-0 204 Fr.
KR Ross Dickerson 5-10 172 Fr.
KR Michael Brewster 5-6 180 Jr.
PR Chad Owens 5-9 174 Jr.