Warriors get prep defensive end
By Stephen Tsai
In a tradition-breaking move, the Hawai'i football team has secured a commitment from a breakout defensive player.
John Cooper Pelluer, who goes by his middle name, said he notified the UH coaches of his decision to accept a scholarship from the Warriors.
"I definitely love the atmosphere of Hawai'i," said Pelluer, a defensive end from Skyline High in Issaquah, Wash. "There's nothing better than waking up every day in Hawai'i. The coaching staff is just awesome. I love everybody there. I'm really excited to be a Warrior."
Pelluer's great-grandfather, grandfather, father and uncle are Washington State alumni. His father, Scott, was a linebacker who played five seasons with the New Orleans Saints. His uncle, Steve, was a quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos.
Washington State is "where my dad and mom met," Pelluer said.
But Pelluer, who received offers from Washington and Washington State, said UH was the best fit. He took his UH visit last weekend.
"I wanted to go where I felt I was really wanted," Pelluer said. "I got that vibe, that feel, from Hawai'i."
Pelluer was an outside linebacker in 2008, when Skyline ran a 3-4 scheme. This past season, a new defensive coordinator implemented the 4-3 alignment. Pelluer was asked to move to defensive end.
At first, Pelluer was skeptical. But with Pelluer at rush end and a converted safety at weakside linebacker, "we became one of the fastest teams (in the division). We were flying around on defense."
Pelluer, who is 6 feet 3 1/2 and 225 pounds, made 10 sacks in 13 games. In all, he had 77 tackles, including 46 solo stops.
"I had fun at defensive end," Pelluer said. "You sort of go."
He also played tight end at Skyline. Six of his nine catches were touchdowns.
Pelluer said he has been told he will compete at defensive end or outside linebacker at UH.
He will enroll in UH's second Summer Session, starting in July.
At the University of Washington camp in 2008, Pelluer ran 40 yards in 4.7 seconds. He completed the shuttle in 4.57 seconds. His vertical jump is 26 inches, and his maximum bench press is a little under 300 pounds.
Pelluer is a member of the Skyline basketball team. In his spare time, he snowboards.
"I tried surfing on my official visit, and I just loved it," he said. "I can see myself learning how to surf."
He already has aced Hawai'i's first test. His host during his visit was middle linebacker Jake "Animal" Heun.
"He's a wild guy," Pelluer said, laughing.
WOLF PACK INELIGIBLE
Nevada led the nation in rushing during the regular season, averaging 362.25 yards per game.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running backs Vai Taua and Luke Lippincott each rushed for more than 1,000 yards
But the Wolf Pack will be without two-thirds of its running attack when it plays Southern Methodist in Thursday's Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl.
Taua has been declared academically ineligible. Lippincott underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn ligament in the big toe of his left foot.
Nevada coach Chris Ault said Mike Ball, Lampford Mark and Courtney Randall will rotate at the lone back position. "It's their turn," Ault said.
Taua, who was ninth nationally in rushing (122.27 yards per game), apparently did not earn enough credits during the fall semester.
"It's disappointing," Ault said. "Vai is a terrific young man, but he didn't take care of business. It's a rude awakening. He's a very intelligent young man. We were not only disappointed, but shocked. ... Vai's been in our program for four years. He has no academic problems. ... It was one of those deals, 'I'll get it later,' and guess what? Not only does he suffer but he let the team down. That, to me, is probably the toughest thing for him to acknowledge."
Taua was not included in the Wolf Pack's 80-player travel roster.
But Lippincott, whose left foot is in a medical boot, made the trip. Five days ago, Lippincott was told he no longer needed to use crutches.
The most difficult thing about Lippincott's second major surgery in two years? The operation was in Boise.