Thomas will miss
Freshman wide receiver Desmond Thomas will miss all of Hawaii's spring football camp, which begins Tuesday, with strained knee ligaments.
Thomas underwent an MRI earlier this month because of continual irritation in one of his knees. The test showed ligament strains that require Thomas to rest between six and eight weeks. No surgery is necessary.
"I really feel for him, because he's worked so hard and this spring is very important for him," receivers coach Ron Lee said. "It's too bad because he had a shot (to earn a starting position)."
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound graduate of Vallejo High School (Calif.), redshirted last fall after UH coaches thought about playing him as a true freshman.
He is expected to be back on the practice field for preseason camp in August.
Competition is wide open for all four receiver positions this spring. The only 2004 starter with eligibility remaining, junior Jason Rivers, will miss camp while working to improve his grades.
"I haven't talked to him in a while, but he knows what he has to do," Lee said.
Tyrone Brown returns: Senior outside linebacker Tyrone Brown is back this spring after being cut from the team last year.
Brown was a highly regarded athlete coming out of Highland High School in Palmdale, Calif.
In 2002 and 2003, Brown mostly played special teams and was often injured.
"He's not missing any workouts," head coach June Jones said. "He can run and he's physical, so he has a chance to help us, at least on special teams."
Davis, Suan to coach linemen: Offensive assistant Mouse Davis and running backs coach Wes Suan will work together to coach the offensive linemen this spring, Jones said.
"Mouse invented this stuff (the run-and-shoot offense), and he's coached every position," Jones said.
Mike Cavanaugh, who was UH offensive line coach since 1999, left for the same job at Oregon State.
Jones has three candidates with NFL experience in mind for the permanent position, but has declined to identify them.
Transfer looks good: The coaches are excited about Washington State transfer Renolds Fruean, a Waipahu High School graduate who could add some depth to the defensive line.
"He has a chance to get on the field," Jones said of Fruean, who played tight end at Waipahu and offensive line at Washington State. He was listed at 6-4 and 260 pounds last year.
"He reminds me of (former UH defensive end) Laanui Correa," defensive line coach Vantz Singletary said. "I think he could play end or tackle, including nose tackle."
Fruean, a cousin of incoming freshman linebacker B.J. Fruean, is eligible after sitting out last season after one year with the Cougars.
Rain hampers pro day: Former UH players had a rough go at impressing NFL scouts and coaches at the Warriors' pro workout day at Carson, Calif., because of poor weather yesterday.
Receiver/kick returner Chad Owens had a pretty good workout, though, that included a 4.57 40 (in track spikes).
Defensive tackle Matt Faga provided another highlight with 37 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press. Defensive tackle Lui Fuga benched 32 reps.
Faga weighed in at 352 pounds. Offensive lineman Uriah Moenoa weighed 350. Running back West Keli'ikipi weighed 267. He did not run a 40.
Receiver Britton Komine's best 40 was 4.62, but he impressed at least one scout with his quickness and strength. He did 17 reps of 225.
"This was a bad day for a workout," a scout said. "But Komine was impressive in his individual drills. His lifting was impressive for a receiver. He's kind of like Chad."
Quarterback Tim Chang "looked OK," the scout said. "But the rain affected him a little. Nobody was really impressive (throwing the ball)."
Owens will probably be picked on April 24, the second day of the NFL Draft (rounds four through seven). Chang and defensive back Abraham Elimimian are also possible draftees.
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’Bows on the road
It's the time of year when Riley Wallace transforms from coach to traveling salesman.
The Hawaii basketball coach is busy racking up frequent-flyer miles on his annual journey across the country in search of high school and junior college prospects to fill out the Rainbow Warriors' roster.
UH has three scholarships to fill this spring and the coaches are on the lookout for a couple of guards and a big man to complete this year's recruiting class.
While UH fell short of a postseason berth this season, the program's recent success remains a primary selling point for the coaches.
"We still sell four straight postseasons and we were that close another (this season) with all the close calls," Wallace said. "We just need a couple more players to add to what we've got and we'll be there."
Wallace made stops in California and at the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., over the past week.
Wallace is using an NCAA-mandated "dead period" to visit with family in Las Vegas before heading to St. Louis for the Final Four next week. He's then scheduled to make home visits after the national championship game on April 4. The recruits will come to town for their official visits after Wallace returns to Honolulu on April 11.
UH played in the NCAA Tournament or NIT each of the last four years, and coaches think this year's 16-13 campaign will not hamper his efforts.
"We've been to the postseason six of the last nine years and not very many teams other than the elite ones do that," UH associate coach Jackson Wheeler said. "Kids still have a good perception of our program."
UH's recruiting efforts have focused predominantly on junior college players over the years, but the coaches are looking to the high school ranks as well with an eye on the future. Of the seven scholarship players expected to return next season, five will be seniors.
The Rainbows signed guard Matt Lojeski and forward Ahmet Tidiane Gueye in the fall. Both earned NJCAA All-Region honors this season and will be juniors in the fall.
Let's make a deal: Wallace's three-year contract is due to expire at the end of April, and the coach and UH athletic director Herman Frazier are looking to have a new deal in place shortly.
Frazier has been in contact with Wallace's agent, Jordan Bazant, and UH administrators, and doesn't see any major issues standing in the way of a new contract. Frazier hopes to have the contract approved by the Board of Regents within the next two months.
Bracket Busters indeed: While many observers marveled over Wisconsin-Milwaukee's run to the Sweet 16, the Rainbows weren't surprised with the Panthers' success.
UWM beat UH in an ESPN Bracket Busters game 87-81 on Feb. 19. The Panthers' season ended with a 77-63 loss to top-seeded Illinois yesterday. UH is slated to visit Milwaukee next season as the Bracket Busters arrangement calls for host teams to play a return game the following season.