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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 23, 2007

Monteilh will start at safety

Photo galleryPhoto gallery: UH football practice

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Senior defensive tackle Michael Lafaele goes one-on-one with the Big Bag during morning drills.

Photos by GREGORY YAMAMOTO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

William Monteilh

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Brashton Satele, David Farmer and Siave Seti form an imposing wedge as they head up field during kick return drills.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Malcolm Lane hauls in a pass despite tight defense from Gerard Lewis.

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As co-owner of Hawai'i Chauffeur Service, William Monteilh has provided transportation for Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, the Eagles and Boyz II Men.

This week, his company is taking around Gwen Stefani.

But yesterday, he sat back and watched proudly as his son completed the circuitous journey to the starting job as a University of Hawai'i football safety.

"He worked really hard," William Monteilh said, noting Keao Monteilh redshirted last season after deciding to switch from cornerback.

Entering training camp three weeks ago, Jacob Patek had locked up one safety job, and Monteilh and Desmond Thomas were the top competitors for the other.

In awarding Monteilh a starting job in the base defense, the coaches felt he had demonstrated the most consistency since the beginning of spring training in April.

"Keao showed up," head coach June Jones said of the the 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior. "He's been playing very well for us."

Thomas also will play extensively. The Warriors have three defensive schemes base (4-3-4), nickel (4-2-5) and Oky (3-3-5). Monteilh will be the left safety in the base, and the nickelback in the nickel and Oky packages. Thomas will serve as the left safety in the nickel and Oky defenses.

Yesterday, Thomas was on the first team for 25 plays.

"I'm a starter, but just not in the base package," Thomas said. "It doesn't matter who's the first guy on the field. I'm going to play throughout the game."

Defensive coordinator Greg McMackin said Thomas, who did not practice last Saturday because of a strain to his right quadriceps, will be a significant contributor.

"We're going to play a lot of guys," McMackin said.

Monteilh was an All-State cornerback at Saint Louis School in 2003. He played safety as a UH freshman, then moved to cornerback as a sophomore in 2005, Jerry Glanville's first of two seasons as defensive coordinator.

Glanville referred to Monteilh as "Haircut" and by his jersey number. "My first name was '30,' " Monteilh said, "my last was '5,' "

In December 2005, Monteilh suffered from appendicitis. His grades suffered while he recovered. In March 2006, he was dismissed from the team because of his academic problems. But he was reinstated in August 2006, and last January he earned back his scholarship.

"I like to play safety," Monteilh said. "You get to see more. You get to see how the plays are developing."

William Monteilh has watched his son's improvement, having attended every practice the past three weeks. Father and son always have been close. Once, William Monteilh introduced his family to the King of Pop.

"My dad was like his driver and bodyguard," Keao said of Michael Jackson. "He's a really nice guy. He gave us VIP tickets. His manager got us on the bus (to the concert) with the VIPs. We sat on the bus with Magic Johnson."

Keao Monteilh also has a good relationship with his own son, Kanoa, who started preschool three days ago.

"He's a great kid," Monteilh said.

STARTING IN TRENCHES

This week, Fale Laeli was named the starting defensive left tackle.

Yesterday, Laeli suffered a sprained left ankle. He said he was injured during 9-on-7 drills, and expects to miss up to two practices.

But when he returns, he will retain his starting job.

"Anyone who gets hurt doesn't lose their position because of that," McMackin said.

Keala Watson entered training camp as the No. 1 left tackle. But Laeli moved ahead, in part to his first-step quickness.

"Fale has had such a great fall practice," McMackin said. "He has worked himself into a starting tackle. That's nothing against Keala."

McMackin said he considers right tackle Michael Lafaele, Laeli and Watson as first-team players in the two interior-line positions. "They're the first three," McMackin said.

Siave Seti also will be part of the rotation.

McMackin said Rocky Savaiigaea, who lost 30 pounds from last season and now weighs 300, and Josh Leonard, who moved from defensive end, will contribute.

"Josh Leonard is playing really well," McMackin said. "We took his speed from the outside and put it inside. He's 275, 280, but he's a fast tackle. It's just a way to get more speed on the field."

WAITING TO HEAL

Defensive end John Fonoti, who injured both heels when he fell off a house roof on Sunday, will not resume practicing until at least Monday. Fonoti might have a hairline fracture in his left heel.

"I told him to stay out until Monday," Jones said. "No sense pushing it now. He'll get a week of practice (before the Sept. 1 opener). We'll be OK."

NEWS AND NOTES

  • Freshman Kevin Konrath has agreed to redshirt this season.

    "We have some awesome linebackers," Konrath said. "It would be kind of foolish for me to waste a year."

  • A.J. Martinez, who missed spring training and training camp because of a hip flexor, attended practice yesterday.

    "I'm back in uniform," Martinez said. "I'm doing a little fieldwork, just rehabbing. Hopefully, by the end of next week or the week after, I should be full bore. Hopefully, I'll be at game speed in two or three weeks."

  • McMackin was knocked down when center John Estes and defensive tackle Josh Leonard became entangled during a scrimmage.

    "I got up quick," McMackin said.

    He said he felt a "pop" in his surgically repaired right knee.

    "I've got titanium in there," he said. "I'm fine."

    McMackin added: "They were playing fast, which is what I like. I'll be back, but I'll be farther from the action. I'll be watching with binoculars."

    Jones also was knocked down during a passing drill. But McMackin said: "At least it took two big guys to knock me down."

    Visit Tsai's blog at http://blogs.honoluluadvertiser.com.

    Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.