Weight off his shoulders, Letuli hopes to shed more
• Photo gallery: UH football practice gallery Wednesday
BY Stephen Tsai
After a seemingly endless wait, University of Hawai'i football player Laupepa Letuli is now focusing on his weight.
"I have to lose some," said Letuli, patting his hips.
Letuli, who is the No. 1 right tackle, will get the opportunity when he participates in the Warriors' intensive conditioning program this summer.
That is one of the benefits of winning an appeal for a medical exemption that will allow him to play as a sixth-year senior in 2010.
Letuli was notified of the NCAA's decision Tuesday evening — about three months after he filed his appeal.
"It's been a long few months for Laupepa from a stress standpoint," UH offensive line coach Gordy Shaw said.
The past two weeks, Letuli had been practicing in one-on-one drills, but not full-contact team workouts, while awaiting the results of his appeal. His workload did not change much yesterday.
"I'm still involved in only one-on-ones," he said.
But, he admitted: "I'm relieved. I'm not stressed anymore. It was very stressful waiting."
Letuli felt confident that he met the precedent of proving that injuries forced him to miss nearly two full seasons. He suffered torn ligaments in his right shoulder in 2005 and a torn tendon in his left knee in 2009.
He said his mother and UH head trainer Eric Okazaki provided contemporaneous documents — notes written in the years he was injured.
Letuli said his mother "is very organized. She gave a lot of information."
Shaw said: "The biggest winner in all of this is the Warrior football program. We get a good player back for another year."
During UH's Pro Day, an event Letuli attended earlier this month in Carson, Calif., Shaw told National Football League scouts that Letuli was one of the best tackles he ever coached. Shaw repeated that claim yesterday.
"He has the rare combination of power and strength along with physical size, athleticism and quickness," Shaw said. "He has all of the skills, like no one else I've ever been associated with on the offensive line. He's a very smart football player. He understands the game very well. It's just an awesome tribute to the NCAA to give a guy like that another year on the field."
BRADLEY AT '90 PERCENT'
The past week, wideout Rodney Bradley has been able to run pass routes without discomfort, the most hopeful indication he will be ready for this summer's training camp.
Bradley was having a breakout season when he suffered two bone fractures in his left leg during a game against Idaho.
"I'm about 90 percent," Bradley said, adding, "there's a little pain in the area."
Bradley, who can run at full speed, said he does not want to risk a setback by competing in spring training.
"Somebody could roll up on my leg," he said.
Instead, he runs routes after practice, with quarterbacks Cayman Shutter and Corey Nielsen throwing passes.
"I'll definitely be ready this summer," Bradley said.
NEWS AND NOTES
• Head coach Greg McMackin missed yesterday's practice to be with his wife, Heather, who suffered a fractured arm when she was struck by a car Sunday.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. McMackin," safety Spencer Smith said.
Associate head coach Rich Miano oversaw the practice, and coordinators Nick Rolovich, Dave Aranda and Chris Tormey conducted the drills.
• Cornerback Tank Hopkins, who is recovering from a pelvic injury, said he is contemplating redshirting this coming season. Hopkins, who will be a senior, has never used a redshirt year.
• The grass practice field has been renamed Cooke Field, according to a small plaque. What used to be Cooke Field — the complex featuring a track and football field with an artificial surface — is now Ching field.