'Warriors in training' come from far and near
By Stephen Tsai
By Stephen Tsai
Punahou School quarterback Kimo Makaula has attended the Arizona, Nike Elite and All-Poly football camps.
But only the University of Hawai'i Coaches' Skills Camp offered a lesson in the ha'a.
"That was pretty good," Makaula said. "It was good to learn our heritage."
This camp — for quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, linebackers and defensive backs — runs through Friday. There were about 350 participants, including many of the state's top prospects, for yesterday's two-hour session.
Some players came from the Mainland, such as quarterback Corey Nielsen, a lifelong Warrior fan.
"I love Hawai'i," Nielsen said. "I can't get enough of it. My mom went to Punahou, so I've got some local ties. To be here, it feels like home already."
Nielsen, who will be a senior at Gahr High School, led California quarterbacks with 4,363 passing yards last season. He threw 35 scoring passes.
Gahr employs an offense that is similar to the Warriors' four-wide attack. Nielsen tried to emulate Colt Brennan.
"My grandma taped all of the (UH) games for me, so I've been watching," Nielsen said. "I'm always asking: 'What's CB doing this week?' "
Taz Stevenson, a running back/receiver at Mililani High School, already has attracted attention from several colleges. They will have to wait. Stevenson will be a junior this year.
"I've got a couple of years to see my options," Stevenson said.
Stevenson, who is 6 feet 2, said he received valuable tips during the UH camp.
"The drills were good," he said. "It's been fun."
Kenny Ellis, a 6-5, 225-pound quarterback for Kailua High, said he signed up to "try to get better at my position."
Former UH quarterbacks Nick Rolovich and Jack Rolovich showed Ellis the proper footwork.
"This is really going to help me," Ellis said.
Ellis also hopes to catch the coaches' attention as a possible recruit.
"I would like to play for Hawai'i," Ellis said. "I'm going to work for that."
That is no longer a goal for wideout Billy Ray Stutzmann of Saint Louis School. On Monday, Stutzmann verbally committed to UH.
"It feels good to get all of that stuff off of me," said Stutzmann, who hopes to graduate early and enroll at UH in January. "It feels like a whole weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. It's been an unbelievable experience."
Stutzmann displayed quickness — he can run 100 meters in 10.7 seconds — during passing drills, despite not fully recovered from a tight hamstring.
"I have to keep working on it," Stutzmann said. "I want to be ready for the start of the season."
Makaula, who has received offers from four schools, said this camp is comparable to the ones he attended on the Mainland.
"The competition is the same," Makaula said. "It's very good."
For Jayden Zadlo, the college dream is years away. "I came here to work on my skills and try to learn things and get better," said Zadlo, an incoming freshman at Pearl City High School.
Zadlo took part in the ha'a, which was taught by this version's creator, former UH linebacker Brad Kalilimoku.
UH associate head coach Rich Miano said: "This has to be the only camp that does the ha'a. It was pretty good for the first day. Wait until the fourth day. Those guys are going to look like true Warriors. Right now they're Warriors in training."
Reach Stephen Tsai at firstname.lastname@example.org.