Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 18, 2003

Akpan might miss game to attend father's funeral

By Ferd Lewis and Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writers

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. — The father of University of Hawai'i defensive end Nkeruwem "Tony" Akpan has died in the player's native Nigeria, UH coach June Jones said.

Jones said funeral details were still sketchy and he wasn't sure when Akpan might be leaving the team.

"It has been difficult to get hold of the family over there (in Nigeria)," Jones said, "but we'll do whatever we can do for Tony."

The NCAA has a special assistance fund that provides allowances that pay for athletes to return home in the event of a death in the immediate family.

Christian Okoye, a Nigerian who played college football in the United States and went on to play in the NFL, lives in Southern California and showed up at practice yesterday to talk to Akpan and give him support.

Jones said Okoye met Akpan when the former Kansas City Chiefs' running back held some clinics in Hawai'i.

Akpan sat out with a bruised rib but could play against Nevada-Las Vegas tomorrow night if he doesn't return home for the funeral.

Happy camper: After UH's longest practice of the season, a 3-hour, 10-minute workout at Chaffey College yesterday, coach June Jones said he was happy with three days of practices at "Camp Redemption."

"We've practiced sharp and, hopefully, we'll play that way," Jones said.

UH is scheduled to work out from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today, its final session before tomorrow night's ESPN2 appearance against UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium.

The Warriors are scheduled to fly out of nearby Ontario, Calif., at 5 p.m. today on an Aloha Airlines charter.

They will not practice in Las Vegas, Jones said.

After the game, the team will leave Las Vegas about midnight and arrive in Honolulu after 3 a.m., according to Kevin Velasco, an Aloha Airlines representative with the team.

Alumni gathering: Attending yesterday's practice were former UH special teams coach Dennis McKnight, along with former Rainbow quarterback Jeff Duva (1977-1978) and lineman Jack Wright (1975-1978).

McKnight, who was at UH in the first two seasons of June Jones' reign, is a special teams coach at Grossmont College near San Diego, where he operates a business.

Duva is publisher of PrepStar Magazine, a college football recruiting publication based out of Woodland Hills, Calif. Wright is one of three assistant editors of the magazine.

The latest edition of PrepStar lists McKinley defensive lineman Randy Faletoi, an Advertiser All-State selection last year, as one of the top 100 recruits in the West region and top 500 in the nation. Also earning that distinction is Fountain Valley (Calif.) offensive tackle Lio Talavou, who is interested in the UH program.

Other Hawai'i players mentioned, but not ranked as high as Faletoi and Talavou, are Waimea running back Jordon Dizon, who has verbally committed to Colorado, and Iolani running back Raynold Stowers.

There are two other players of interest in the magazine. Linebacker Ryan Phipps, of Centennial (Corona, Calif.), lists eight schools showing interest, and indicates that UH and San Diego State have already made offers. Also, linebacker Tyson Kafentzis of Richland (Wash.) lists UH as one of seven schools showing interest. His father, Mark, played for the Rainbows.

Talking to TCU: Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson is scheduled to meet with Texas Christian University athletic director Eric Hyman Saturday.

Word of the meeting has raised speculation that the WAC will pursue TCU if Conference USA breaks up.

TCU, which had been a member of the WAC until leaving for CUSA in 2001, could be left with several options if the Big East takes on Louisville and Cincinnati in the wake of the loss of Miami and Virginia Tech.

Rivers returns: Freshman wide receiver Jason Rivers returned to practice after sitting out with a hamstring injury Tuesday.

Defensive end Mel Purcell went through limited practice and is still questionable because of an elbow injury.

Tee time: The sixth annual UH Athletic Department Scholarship Golf Tournament attracted 225 alumni and former UH athletes to the Royal Vista golf course in Walnut, Calif., and raised nearly $30,000.

The event, originated by Hugh Yoshida when he was AD and run by him through this year, will be turned over to the school to operate.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at skaneshiro@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8042