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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 2, 2006

Singletary leaves UH football program

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer


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University of Hawai'i head football coach June Jones said he hopes to hire a replacement for defensive line coach Vantz Singletary, who accepted a similar job at Tennessee-Chattanooga, before the March 21 start of spring practice.

Jones said he will interview "four or five" candidates. UH graduate assistant Jeff Reinebold, who has been a head coach in the Canadian Football League and a top official in NFL Europe, said he will apply.

"This is where I want to be," said Reinebold, who has turned down several football job offers in the past two months. "I love this program, and I love working for June Jones."

In the meantime, Jones praised Singletary, 40, who was part of Jones' original coaching staff in 1999. "He's well liked by all of the kids, and he's done a good job for me," Jones said. "I'm happy for him. He wanted to go back to the Mainland because he wanted to be closer to his parents and grandparents."

Singletary, who is married and has four daughters, was raised in Houston but has several relatives in the South.

"It will be the best move not just for me but for my family," he said.

At UH, Singletary coached current NFL players Travis LaBoy of the Tennessee Titans and Isa'ako "Isaak" Sopoaga of the San Francisco 49ers. LaBoy was the Western Athletic Conference's Defensive Player of the Year in 2003.

"I owe a lot to coach Vantz," LaBoy told The Advertiser. "He helped me throughout my career."

Singletary also was instrumental in the development of defensive linemen Lui Fuga, Lance Samuseva, La'anui Correa, Joe Correia, Kevin Jackson, Melila Purcell III and Ikaika Alama-Francis.

"He's a great coach," UH nose tackle Lawrence Wilson said. "He's a straight-forward guy. He knows what he's talking about technique-wise."

Singletary was a favorite among players. After victories, he would perform the "Vantz Dance" while his players chanted, "Who let the dogs out?"

He gave his defensive line the nickname of "Dog Pound," and fitted his meeting room with a large cage containing a toy dog.

Singletary also attended several classes with his players. Each Thanksgiving, he hosted a lunch for the players and coaches.

"The best quality about Vantz is he's a great person," UH defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville said. "That speaks volumes. He's a special guy who would do anything for anyone."

Singletary said the players and co-workers had become part of his extended family.

"Every guy on the staff is my brother," he said. "I've had a great time here. I'm thankful to June Jones for giving me a chance. I'm going to miss Hawai'i. You know, I always listen to (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's) 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.' I shed a tear every time I hear that song. It's very moving, and it makes me think about Hawai'i. I'll play that song the rest of my life because I'll think about Hawai'i the rest of my life."

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.