Receiver Rivers rejoining Warriors
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
University of Hawai'i wide receiver Jason Rivers, who missed the 2005 football season because of academic and health issues, yesterday said he has been declared eligible to compete in the coming spring practice.
"I just got cleared," Rivers said. The first of the 15 days of official spring workouts is March 21.
As a freshman in 2003, Rivers caught 41 passes for 451 yards and five touchdowns, including three scoring receptions in the 2003 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl. The next year, he caught 80 passes for 973 yards and seven touchdowns. He had 11 catches against Alabama at Birmingham in the 2004 Hawai'i Bowl.
But in a one-two knockout last summer, Rivers suffered a broken right ankle in a moped accident and also failed to meet the requirements to attend UH during the 2005 fall semester.
Rivers said his right "ankle is 75 percent" healed. He has been participating in unsupervised afternoon workouts with several UH players this semester. He has been running at full speed without any noticeable difficulties.
"I haven't played football in a year," Rivers said. "As far as being in shape, I'm going to do what I can. If I can go, I'll go. If I can't, I'm not going to force it. The main thing is to be ready for the fall."
Rivers attended a community college last fall, earning enough credits to re-enroll at UH and remain in good standing under NCAA eligibility guidelines.
"I'm happy to be back, and not just the football aspect of it," Rivers said. "I'm happy to be back in school. That's the satisfying part."
Rivers did not participate in last year's spring practice because of academic problems.
Of his eligibility struggles, Rivers said, "I slacked off a little bit. The college life got to me. I have a different outlook now. It's a long, hard lesson learned. It's too painful for it to happen again. I'm going to try harder this time."
Rivers will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.
It will not be easy for Rivers to reclaim the starting job at left wideout. Chad Mock, who finished the season as the starter, returns for his senior season. Ian Sample, who started before suffering an injury in the third game, is petitioning the NCAA for a medical hardship that will allow him to play as a sixth-year senior.
The Warriors also signed C.J. Hawthorne, who ran the fastest 40-yard dash among UH receivers in team testing two weeks ago. He completed the distance in 4.44 seconds. Sample was second in 4.47 seconds.
SATELE UNDER WATCH
UH senior Samson Satele yesterday was named to the Watch List for the 37th Rotary Lombardi Award. Satele is one of 44 candidates for the honor, which goes to college football's top lineman.
"I knew he was a real good football player, and he's certainly deserving of that," UH coach June Jones said. "If he has a real good season, he'll reap the benefits."
Satele, who considered applying for this year's NFL draft, instead opted to return for his senior season. He will move from guard to center during spring practice.
Reach Stephen Tsai at email@example.com.