Warriors welcome football spring fling
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By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
There was a surreal start to the University of Hawai'i football team's spring training.
C.J. Hawthorne, wearing the defense's green jersey, practiced on offense as a wideout.
Later, the scout players, who wear yellow jerseys, joined the top-string players in the 7-on-7 session.
That forced starting quarterback Colt Brennan to decipher between the offensive players wearing yellow jerseys and the defenders wearing yellow jerseys.
"It was a little weird," said Brennan, who teamed with wideout Antwan "Tua" Mahaley on a 40-yard scoring pass. "You didn't know who was on offense and who was on defense. It's a good excuse if you throw a pick. But if you know the offense well enough, it shouldn't matter what color jerseys they're wearing. You'll know where the receiver will be. That's what coach (June) Jones will probably say."
The practice also featured the rarity of a graduate assistant coach (Jeff Reinebold) having his own observer (Dave Stephens). Reinebold is the leading candidate to replace Vantz Singletary, who resigned as defensive line coach two weeks ago. In the meantime, Reinebold is coaching the defensive line. Stephens, a former UH teammate of Jones, is auditing the practices.
"I'm trying to get myself a little bit more knowledge about football," said Stephens, who moved back to Hawai'i last summer and is an assistant coach at Kalaheo High School. "Re-connecting with the UH program is probably one of the best things I've done so far."
Most of all, it poured during the two-hour practice. Although the skies had cleared for the final 10 minutes, by then the grass field resembled a mad scientist's haircut. Jones tried to stomp down the pulled clumps of grass.
"It's a bummer when it rains like that," Brennan said. "It makes the balls wet and kind of slippery. Everything is more difficult. That's football. You can play in rain, sleet, snow. It doesn't matter. Today, we just got better at throwing in the rain."
JOB FORCES FRUEAN TO MISS SPRING TRAINING
Defensive lineman Renolds Fruean will not participate in spring training because of financial concerns.
Fruean, who is not on scholarship, needs to work to pay for his tuition and family expenses, Jones said. He was projected to play defensive end.
Fruean, who is attending school, has a 3.7 grade-point average. Jones said he hopes Fruean will receive a football scholarship for the fall semester. "We just don't have one available now," Jones said.
Jones said Fruean will not be hurt by missing spring practice.
"We know what he can do," Jones said. "I don't have to be worried about him. He'll be ready by the time we go to Alabama (for the season opener)."
CLASSWORK KEEPS CORNERBACK DAVIS OUT
Freshman JoPierre Davis, who was expected to compete for a starting job at cornerback, is being withheld from spring practice.
"He's one of those seven or eight guys who has to take care of some things before he can be out," Jones said.
Translation: Davis needs to complete unfinished school work.
Jones said Davis will not compete in this week's three remaining practices before spring break.
The Warriors entered spring practice without a cornerback with starting experience. Davis redshirted last year, although he traveled with the team. He practiced as a running back, kick returner and cornerback.
"When you haven't played, you can't afford to miss any time," defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville said. "He needs to be out there."
A.J. Martinez and Guyton Galdeira were the first-team cornerbacks yesterday.
PATTON, KALILIMOKU TRY NEW POSITIONS
Of all of the position changes, the most closely watched were Kenny Patton's move from cornerback to right wideout and Brad Kalilimoku's switch from inside linebacker to strong safety. Jones gave both players passable marks for their first team workouts.
"Kenny will help us," Jones said. "He's very athletic and smart. His head will be swimming for a little, but once he settles in and gets his confidence, he'll have a chance to be productive."
Patton, who has studied all of the offensive plays, said he is building to running his routes at full speed.
"You can't do that until you know everything you're supposed to know," he said. "I'm trying to get it mentally. I'm trying to get my assignment and alignment right."
Kalilimoku is moving to a position that better suits his skills in the Warriors' 3-4 alignment. Kalilimoku, who is 5 feet 11 and 204 pounds, appeared to be undersized as a middle linebacker last season.
Yesterday, Glanville said: "He did some good things. He squeezed out a route. He was breaking on a ball. He can move. Not many (former) middle linebackers can go out and do what he did in space."
Kalilimoku said: "The biggest adjustment is to be disciplined. As a safety, I'm the last resort."
Kalilimoku said he receives tutoring from free safety Leonard Peters. "He scolds me," Kalilimoku said. "That's good. I need a push."
Glanville said Kalilimoku is guaranteed at least a four-day tryout at safety. If he struggles, his next move is to outside linebacker.
"I want to stay here (at safety)," Kalilimoku said. "I really want to make this my last stop."
Reach Stephen Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.