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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, August 4, 2006

Cox, Fruean will redshirt

 •  Hawai'i-Alabama will kickoff season at 1:07 Hawai'i time

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Mario Cox

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B.J. Fruean

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On the first day of football training camp, University of Hawai'i coach June Jones yesterday took a break to meet with newspaper and television reporters. He offered this state-of-the-Warriors address:

  • Running back Mario Cox and safety B.J. Fruean will redshirt this season to focus on academics.

    "They're going to find out how to be students," Jones said, noting both are in good academic standing with the school, team and NCAA.

    Cox and Fruean will remain on full football scholarship and attend classes at UH this semester, but they won't be allowed to participate in practices or games.

    Cox and Fruean were among a dozen Warriors withheld from spring practice in April.

    "They're eligible, (but) they haven't proven to me they're committed to the educational process," Jones said. "When they do that, then they can come back out for football."

    Even if they were to show academic progress in the next month, Jones said, "they're done for this year."

    Jones said he decided to keep both on the team because "their only chance in life is if they play football and get their degrees and grow up. Both of them are good football players. If they are here for four years, they will grow up and mature. Mario's situation, to be quite honest, I'm worried about him going back to Oakland. ... He comes from a real bad area."

    After redshirting, both players will have three years to play three seasons.

    Fruean, who was named to The Advertiser's All-State first team as a Leilehua High School linebacker in 2004, played in all 12 games last season, making six tackles on special teams.

    Cox, who played in eight games as a freshman in 2005, was the Warriors' fourth-leading rusher, with 71 yards.

    "I'm OK with redshirting," Cox said. "I can focus on academics, and I can work on getting into better shape."

    Cox said he would like to move to linebacker for the 2007 season.

  • Cornerback JoPierre Davis, who also was withheld from spring practice because of academic issues, has met the team, school and NCAA requirements to play this season.

    "The reason he will play is he proved to me he's committed to school," Jones said.

  • It might take until next week for the NCAA to rule on wideout Ian Sample's petition for a waiver that would allow him to play as a sixth-year senior. Sample had dropped out of school in 2002 to take care of his mother, who is suffering from multiple sclerosis. Jones has expressed confidence Sample will receive the exemption. Sample cannot practice with the team until he receives the NCAA's blessing.

    "As long as he comes back, we'll be OK," Jones said. "The fact he doesn't practice for two or three days, he'll be fine. He's been working out all summer. He knows what he's doing. I don't like him to miss practice, but it's not like it's going to be a big deal for him."

  • Hyrum Peters, who served as a graduate assistant during the spring semester, will not continue in that capacity this coming semester.

    "He's got two jobs," Jones said. "He's traveling. I said, 'You need to make your money. We'll get you afterward if it doesn't work out.' "

    Jones said the money that would have gone to Peters now will go to former UH running back Michael Brewster, who will again work on the team's video crew.

  • Vili Fehoko, who serves as the team mascot known as "The Warrior," will be back.

    "Vili's here as long as I'm here," said Jones, whose contract runs through the 2008 season. "The athletic department pays for him. It's not much."

  • The Warriors will use the silver jerseys with black numbers for the season-opening road game against Alabama.

    Last year, the Warriors unveiled new road uniforms featuring dark silver numbers on light silver jerseys. But after several broadcasters complained about the difficulty in reading the numbers, UH was forced to buy new silver jerseys with black numbers. Jones said the new set of jerseys cost "$20,000, probably."

    "I loved the silver (numbers)," Jones said. "Nobody knew who the players were on the field. It was a tactical advantage."

    Asked if Nike, which paid for the first set of road uniforms, erred, Jones said, "It wasn't a mistake. Why was it a mistake? The refs could see the players. We knew who the players were. the fans knew who the players were. A couple of announcers didn't know who the players were, so we succumbed and broke down and bought new jerseys."

  • At the urging of his players, Jones said, the Warriors will use black jerseys for all home games.

    "The kids like the black, and they want to wear the black, Jones said. "Plus, it looks good on TV. We have the green (jerseys), but we'll probably use them for special events."

    As for whether the Warriors will have a retro night, Jones said, "No."

  • He also will undergo a wardrobe makeover. He has worn the same sweat pants for every practice since 1999, his first season as UH head coach.

    "I actually asked for some new sweats," Jones said. "They've got holes in them now. They turned (from black to) brown or something."

    He said he wore the same outfit, which was washed daily, because "that's how things are. It's not a superstition. We don't have new stuff. You look at what everybody's wearing. They're wearing the same stuff for eight years."

  • He said he welcomes the announced 6 p.m. kickoff for the season opener. He said the heat and humidity are dreadful during the early afternoon in Alabama.

    "I was hoping for a night game," he said. "Hopefully, we'll avoid thunderstorms. Hopefully, (the rain will) come down at 3 or 4 o'clock in the afternoon instead of 7 o'clock."

  • After a year's delay, the football team yesterday received its promised video equipment. The delivery included 12 VCR/DVD machines, five overhead projectors and several video cameras.

    "We have what everybody has had for 10 years," Jones said.

  • The offense, which features quarterback Colt Brennan and slotbacks Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullins, could be as good "as I've ever had here."

    "We've got 18 receivers coming to camp, and they can play," Jones added. "Most definitely, this is the most talented. ... Then again, you've got to do it on 13 nights. You have to make plays."

  • Once a year, several Warriors are evaluated extensively to determine their ability to perform under fire. Only one UH player Bess was found to be ESTP (Extra-verted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving), the highest level.

    Jones said Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning and Michael Vick were rated as ESTP. Jones was found to be in the second level, ENPT.

    "Davone is the real deal," Jones said. "I thought he was the real deal before we played a game last year. He's wired the same way as Michael Jordan."

    The personality/performance test measures an athlete's ability and willingness to complete tasks during crunch time.

    "Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team," Jones said. "He's missed over 2,000 shots. He's missed 35, 40 game-winning shots, and he has ESTP. He's made a lot of game-winning shots, and he's not afraid to take them.

    "Just because Davone is ESTP, it doesn't mean he's going to be perfect every time (in a game). But he does have the demeanor of the great ones, just like Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods is all business. Davone is the same way."

  • Retirement is not in his immediate plans. He already qualifies for a substantial pension as a former player and coach in the National Football League. By the time his UH contract expires at the end of the 2008 season, Jones, 53, will be credited with 11 years in the state system. (He was a UH assistant in 1984.)

    "You get 10 years here, you're in pretty good shape," he said. "I never thought about retirement. Not anything. Ever. It's never crossed my mind. As long as it's fun, I'll keep coaching. I take it year to year. I've got a contract through 2008, and I expect to honor it."

    FUNDRAISER IS AUG. 17

    The 11th Warrior Pigskin Pigout is set for Aug. 17 in the block in front of Murphy's Bar & Grill on Merchant Street.

    There will be about 200 silent and live auction items, ranging from restaurant gift certificates to a trip to the Bay Area to attend a San Francisco Giants game.

    Tickets are $100 each, and include a hosted dinner.

    Proceeds go to Na Koa Football Club, which helps pay for the team's training table and other expenses.

    For information, call 531-0422 or 754-1502.

    Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.