Satele, Letuli OK'd to practice
By Stephen Tsai
Linebacker Brashton Satele and offensive tackle Laupepa Letuli have received exemptions that will allow them to participate in the University of Hawai'i's spring football practices.
Satele and Letuli had been held out while awaiting a ruling on their appeal for a medical exemption that will allow them to play as sixth-year seniors in 2010.
They had hoped to receive a favorable ruling from the NCAA before last week's start of spring training. When they did not receive word, they opted to participate in the past Thursday's Pro Day in Carson, Calif. Because they have not signed with agents, they have maintained their amateur status and NCAA eligibility.
"That's good news," said Satele, who remains on the Mainland.
The Warriors' next practice is tomorrow morning.
Satele was exploring whether he could book an affordable flight in time to make that practice.
Satele, who earned a bachelor's degree in December, remains on scholarship. He is taking on-line classes to maintain his NCAA eligibility.
Letuli attended yesterday's practice. He was in sweats, and did not participate in drills. He is expected to work out tomorrow.
At last week's Pro Day, Satele, listed at just under 6 feet 1 and 245 pounds, was credited with running 40 yards in 4.6 seconds. One scout had Satele timed at 4.59 seconds.
Letuli, who is 6 feet 3 1/2 and 325 pounds, ran the 40 in 5.29 seconds.
GRAVES HAS BEEN JAMMING
This spring, freshman quarterback David Graves is committed to getting playing time.
"We have a weekly quota we try to hit," Graves said of his jam sessions.
Graves plays guitar; offensive tackle Levi Legay plays acoustic bass. They play in their UH dorm, outdoors, "anywhere we can find good acoustics ," Graves said.
"We try to get together at least once a week and jam," Legay said. "Whoever has an instrument can join us."
Graves added: "We have busy schedules, but we try to make time to play."
Indeed, Graves has had precious spare time as he tries to earn more reps in practice. Based on the past Saturday's practice, Graves was elevated to No. 3 quarterback for yesterday's practice. The rankings, based on a king-of-the-hill competition, may change from practice to practice.
Graves, one of three freshman quarterbacks on last year's roster, redshirted in 2009 — the first season he was sidelined since he was 8. He was not discouraged, saying, "I understand how it all works."
Through meetings and practices, Graves developed a better understanding of the Warriors' four-wide passing offense.
The biggest adjustment was the quarterback dropbacks. In UH's offense, the quarterback, aligned with his heels 4 1/2 yards from the line of scrimmage, takes the shotgun snap. While slowly dropping back, the quarterback must scan the pass routes — and defenders — without tipping off which area he will target.
Savvy safeties often look for "tells," observing body posture and eye movements to decode a quarterback's intentions.
"The drop really discourages some (quarterbacks)," UH offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich said. "As a quarterback, you have a lot to concentrate on. You can get stuck on one read."
Graves, like the other quarterbacks, has worked on trying to use side glances to trick safeties into moving to one side while throwing to the other.
"We're eye-battling all of the time," Graves said.
This offseason, Rolovich staged a Madden football video game tournament for the quarterbacks. The purpose was twofold: to develop camaraderie and eye discipline.
"I play Madden as much as I can," Graves said. "It makes me a better quarterback. It's such a realistic game. These days, I'm reading defenses right off the bat. 'I've seen this before on film.' 'I've seen that before on film.' "
Rolovich acknowledged that in the future there will be technology that advances from video games. NASCAR drivers reportedly use video games to help their hand-eye coordination.
"In the future, you'll see full simulated rooms where you can go in and get your reps," Rolovich said. "I don't think that's too far off."
For now, Graves is enjoying his current situation.
"I'm so blessed to have this opportunity to play football and get a free education," Graves said.
Asked about living in Hawai'i, he said, "I love it. I love it."
He said that was emphasized after he returned to Honolulu after spending Christmas break with his family in California.
"When I came back, and all of the boys were here, and I had all kinds of friends, I was right back into the swing of things," Graves said. "I knew this was my home away from home. It was my new home. It's a little slower life (than in California), but it's for me. I love it."
GINLACK MAKING GRADE
After essentially redshirting to focus on academics the past fall, offensive lineman Brysen Ginlack is back in the rotation, competing for playing time at right guard.
"I'm still kind of rusty, but it's good to be back," Ginlack said.
Although he remained in good academic standing under UH's guidelines, his grades slipped into the "warning" area.
"I guess I wasn't focusing enough on academics," he said.
For the 2009 fall semester, he agreed to an arrangement in which he would practice only when it did not conflict with his school schedule. After this semester, Ginlack needs to pass two classes to earn a bachelor's degree.