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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Defense has good bloodlines

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Dwayne Keomaka
Brad Kalilimoku

It was in 1975 when Ford was president, disco was king and two Roosevelt High School teammates — all-purpose back Dwayne Keomaka and linebacker Fred Kalilimoku — were among local football's best.

Three decades later, some things haven't changed. The sons of Keomaka and Kalilimoku are making names for themselves as promising football players at the University of Hawai'i.

Ryan Keomaka, the Warriors' best special teams player, is listed as the No. 1 nickelback. Brad Kalilimoku is the starting inside linebacker.

The lifelong friends attended their fathers' alma mater.

"Our families are really close," Brad Kalilimoku said.

Keomaka said: "Me and Brad grew up together. We've known each other since kindergarten, since Pauoa days. It's good to be out here on the same team with him."

Keomaka said his first memory of Kalilimoku is when "he ate a junk pizza pocket, and palu'd. Yeah, good memories."

"For some reason," Kalilimoku said, "I don't remember that. But I'm sure it happened."

Keomaka is the brother-in-law of former UH receiver/returner Chad Owens, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars. "He always talks to me, giving me advice and keeping me in line," Keomaka said. "He's like a dad figure to me. I look up to him."

As for his own father, Keomaka said: "He always brags he was better than me. We always joke about it. He's shrunk, and he got wider."

Keomaka, who is 5 feet 10 and 157 pounds, drew the coaches' attention because of his coverage on kickoffs and punts last year.

"He's a tremendous special teams player," said Rich Miano, who coaches the defensive backs. "I tell all of my DBs, you earn your stripes on special teams. Don't come over here and say you want to be a DB. Show me you can run down on kickoffs. Show me you can cover punts. Ryan showed me that last year."

Miano said Keomaka will be used in pass situations calling for five defensive backs.

"He has great speed and quickness," said Miano, noting Keomaka ran 40 yards in 4.4 seconds. "He has to be more focused on his assignments. When he works on the details, then he'll be a big-time contributor."

Kalilimoku joined UH last season as a non-scholarship player. He ascended the depth chart quickly, starting five games at weakside linebacker last season. He was awarded a scholarship last year.

This training camp, Kalilimoku has practiced at inside linebacker with the first-team defense. At 5 feet 11 and 205 pounds, he is built like a strong safety — a position he will play later in camp.

"He's kind of a 'tweener," Miano said. "He can play either position."

Miano said if Kalilimoku does not start at inside linebacker, he will be used as Lono Manners' backup at strong safety. "He could eventually start over there," Miano said. "It's a matter of how much he develops."

Kalilimoku can run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds and bench press 400 pounds.

"Athletically, he's a freak," Miano said. "Sure, you'd like him to be 220 (pounds) and 6-2, but if there's a fullback coming at him, he's not afraid to knock him down. ... He'll run through a wall for you."


Receivers Ian Sample and Ryan Grice-Mullen are hopeful of participating in 7-on-7 drills by the end of the week.

Sample, who entered training camp as the No. 1 left wideout, did not compete in the past two practices because of a strained back.

"It is pretty sore," Sample said. "I can't do much with it."

Last season, Sample was on the cusp of winning a starting job when he suffered a broken collarbone while attempting a leaping catch against Texas-El Paso. After the latest setback, Sample wondered if "someone is telling me something. I'm not sure what they're telling me. I'm just having bad luck."

Grice-Mullen, who is competing at right slotback, is recovering from a sprained right shoulder. He ran routes in passing drills yesterday, but did not participate in the 7-on-7 session.

"I'll probably be at full strength no later than Thursday," Grice-Mullen said.


Defensive end Amani Purcell said a "change of heart" fueled his decision to relinquish a football scholarship from Penn State to join the Warriors.

He said he wanted to reunite with his older brother, UH defensive end Melila Purcell III. In accordance with NCAA transfer rules, Amani will have to redshirt this season. After that, he will have two years to play two seasons.

Melila, who is listed as a senior, enrolled at UH as a partial qualifier in 2002. If he earns a bachelor's degree by August 2006, he will be eligible to play that season as a fifth-year senior.

"I'm close to my brother, and I wanted to play with him," Amani said.

Amani, like Melila, was a multi-sport high school athlete in American Samoa. Three UH coaches visited his home in 2003 to make recruiting pitches. He decided to sign with Penn State, where he played in eight games as a second-year freshman last season.

"I don't have any regrets," Amani said. "I wanted to be on my own for a little bit. It helped me big time."

He said he enjoyed Penn State's "football atmosphere," although he didn't have much time to notice the weather.

"Football was 24/7," he said.

Amani, who is 6 feet 4 and 260 pounds, said he is awaiting paperwork to allow him to enroll at UH for the fall semester.