Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, January 4, 2002


Roosevelt alumnus Chad Owens earned a scholarship and was named to the Freshman All-American team.

UH’s Owens having
grand New Year

By Dave Reardon

Two consecutive days brought two pleasant surprises for Chad Owens.

On Wednesday, the walk-on slotback/kick returner from Roosevelt High School was told by Hawaii football coach June Jones he will be put on scholarship, starting in the spring semester.

Yesterday, Owens was named to the Football Writers Association of America's inaugural Freshman All-American Team.

UH Football "I'm pretty stoked," said Owens, when told of the national honor. "That's kind of unexpected."

The scholarship wasn't as much of a surprise, but it did catch him a bit off-guard.

"I was up at the football office (Wednesday)," he said. "I just went into Coach Jones' office to tell him 'Happy New Year,' and he told me I got a scholarship. I kind of had a feeling I might get one, but you never want to assume something like that."

No one can assume they can stop Owens, whether he is returning a kickoff or a punt.

Owens led the Western Athletic Conference and was second nationally with a 33.6-yard average on kickoff returns. He returned two kickoffs and a punt for touchdowns during the season.

In Hawaii's 72-45 season-ending victory over Brigham Young last month, Owens broke or tied three NCAA records for returns. He took both a punt and a kickoff back for touchdowns in that game.

Owens was one of four WAC freshmen chosen to the 26-player team.

Nevada running back Chance Kretschmer, Fresno State offensive lineman Logan Mankins and Texas-El Paso linebacker Robert Rodriguez are the others.

Owens is also a slotback for the Warriors. Ron Lee is his position coach.

"There's a walk-on guy that just worked like a dog to get playing time any way he could," Lee said. "He got his chance and really excelled. He's such a hard worker. He's so competitive. When he returns punts and kicks he has average speed, but he's fearless and he wants to take it to the house every time."

The UH coaches didn't really know what they had until midway through the season, when Owens took over as the deep man on kicks and punts.

"We knew he had great quickness, but if we'd been smarter, we would have put him in there sooner," Jones said. "He's definitely deserving of the scholarship and the All-American honor. He's the best in the country at returning kicks."

Another day, another rumor: As expected, Jones' name has come up in a media report as a possibility to replace the fired Mike Riley as San Diego Chargers coach.

Jones was the Chargers' acting head coach and could have had the "acting" taken off the title when he chose instead to become UH head coach in 1999.

Jones said he isn't closing his mind to anything, but wants to remain with the Warriors. He is in the midst of renegotiating his contract with UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida.

"I want to get this wrapped up," Jones said. "I haven't heard from (the Chargers). If they call, I'll listen."

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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