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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, August 5, 2006

Brennan won't be head case

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

On the first day of the University of Hawai'i football team's fall camp yesterday at least one question was answered:

It can be reliably reported that, yes, quarterback Colt Brennan's head does still fit inside his Shutt Pro Air II helmet. Quite easily, actually.

Maybe there shouldn't have been much doubt given the uncommon maturity with which Brennan handled his eye-opening rookie season at UH. One in which he made leading the nation in both touchdown passes (35) and total offense (371.2 yard per game) seem as smooth as handling the fame that went with it.

But the kind of accolades bestowed upon Brennan in the intervening months amount to rarely traversed territory at UH where, among Warrior quarterbacks, perhaps only his predecessor, Tim Chang, has had as much preseason buildup. And, Chang's was four years in the hyping. Bringing records but no championships.

Enter Brennan, whose six months of hype, would be enough to make a lot of people's heads swim. A series of magazines, not to mention the Western Athletic Conference media, anointed him the WAC preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Brennan was named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which honors the nation's outstanding college football player.

Closer to home, UH head coach June Jones had declared, "if he (Brennan) has the year I envision him to have, I'll say he'll be a first-round pick (in 2007). He certainly has that capability. He has a chance if he's injury-free."

With that kind of a buildup at any number of places, if a quarterback sauntered out on the practice field yesterday with an ego as big as one of the inflatable characters in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, it might not have been much of a surprise.

So it was reassuring that Brennan's focus has remained as well grounded as his cleats. That he had his head into the task at hand, not somewhere in the clouds above Manoa.

"Sure, people have said a lot of great things, but the way you have to look at it is that it is all predictions at this point," Brennan said. "After a 5-7 season, there really isn't that much to be proud of."

More telling, said quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison, was the way Brennan has handled off-season film study. "He wasn't sitting back basking in what he's done," Morrison said. "He's a guy who led the nation in several categories who could have sat back but, instead, he's picking apart what he could have done better. His whole mentality is that he's looking at the touchdowns he left on the field and throws he could have made. His whole focus has been, 'How am I going to improve this season?' "

Which, if you are the Warriors with Alabama coming up, is where you want your quarterback right now.

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