Looking on bright side to UH 'problem'
By Ferd Lewis
Darius Bright is polite, humble, hard-working and extremely coachable.
But for all that, he is, in one respect at least, a "problem" for his University of Hawai'i football coaches at the moment.
As spring practice closes tonight at 7 with the annual Warrior Bowl at the T.C. Ching Athletic Complex, the coaches aren't sure what to do with the wide receiver in the fall.
Play him? Redshirt him?
"He's made it tough on us," receivers coach Ron Lee acknowledges. "No doubt about that."
It is a good dilemma to have and one UH coaches weren't expecting to be wrestling with at this point. Bright, with his eye-opening play, might be the offensive surprise of the spring so far.
It is a far cry from three months ago when he transferred from City College of San Francisco, a raw talent all but stamped "likely to redshirt." He had played barely one year of high school football and just 14 games at the junior college level. With the intricacies of the UH offense and nuances of reading defenses ahead of him, Bright was a project.
Bright's best path to playing time in the fall appeared to be on the left side if Rodney Bradley did not make it back from a broken leg or on the right side if Royce Pollard and Billy Ray Stutzmann didn't adequately fill Malcolm Lane's and Jovonte Taylor's shoes.
But Bradley's comeback is progressing to the point where he is expected to be ready to go in the fall and coaches say they are pleased with the progress of Pollard and Stutzmann.
Still, Bright might be their No. 3 outside receiver overall and has put himself in a position for playing time in the fall.
And, that's at the heart of the "problem" for UH coaches. They'd like to redshirt Bright and start his two-year eligibility clock in 2011 when they will be without Kealoha Pilares and Greg Salas, among other receivers.
But Bright is 6 feet, 5 inches and blessed with good hands and speed, a package the Warriors haven't exactly had in abundance on the outside. "A lot of teams started playing us man on the outside and a guy like him out there makes it tough to do that," Lee said.
Said offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich, "the way he's played is going to force us to make some decisions."
The only thing tougher than deciding when to use Bright might be covering him when he does get on the field.