JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Davone Bess tried to shake off Fresno State's Raymond Washington after a catch Saturday.
Bess plays a different game
The UH receiver picked up his skills as a center fielder in high school
Davone Bess makes just his second trip to Nevada tomorrow, this time as a receiver on the Hawaii football team (3-5, 3-3 WAC) as it heads to Reno to play the Wolf Pack (4-3, 3-1).
The other time he was in the Silver State, Bess made a spectacular catch to rival his leaping and juggling grab in UH's 27-13 loss against Fresno State last week.
But the first catch came in a baseball game.
Bess was a center fielder for Skyline High School, playing in a tournament in Las Vegas.
"It was basically an over-the-shoulder catch, Willie Mays-style," Bess said. "I was playing really shallow, but got a great jump on the ball. I almost broke my neck, but it was all right."
Bess batted over .400 and made all-league his senior year at Skyline.
"I was a better defensive player than offensive," he said.
He was invited to a tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
"I was focused on football at the time so I kind of waved it off," Bess said.
Bess, a 5-foot-10, 187-pound freshman, leads the Western Athletic Conference and is fourth in the nation with 8.0 receptions per game. He is second and 21st with 95.9 yards per game. Football is probably his best sport, but he's relatively new to it.
"Baseball and basketball were my first loves," Bess said. "Ken Griffey Jr. was my favorite player growing up. My first year of football was 10th grade.
"I love baseball because it's a different way to compete other than physically like in football or basketball. It's more of a mental game. It was kind of hard to give it up, but I knew football was my real sport."
Bess said he might try out for the UH baseball team after football's done next month. He has football coach June Jones' blessing.
"I would think he'd be a helluva baseball player. Assuming he can hit, he'd be electrifying," said Jones, who won't mind if Bess misses spring practice. "I'd encourage him. He already knows what we're doing on offense, and we'll probably be working with other guys anyway to get them up to speed."
UH senior quarterback Jeff Rhode was on the baseball team one season as a pitcher, and former quarterback Kevin Gilbride was a pitcher and outfielder for the Rainbows.
Hawaii baseball coach Mike Trapasso said he isn't familiar with Bess' background as a baseball player, but judging from watching him play football, he welcomes him to try out.
"You never say no to an athlete like that," Trapasso said.
Closing in on Washington: UH may host three Washington teams on one weekend next year, athletic director Herman Frazier said.
Frazier has been working on a deal to play the Huskies in football to close next season. He wants to make it a package deal where the UW men's and women's basketball teams also play here.
"That's the piece we're waiting for. Unless the sky falls, I see Washington coming here," Frazier said yesterday.
He also tried to get Louisiana-Monroe to complete next year's 13-game schedule.
"Their president said it won't work, so we're still looking for another D-I team," Frazier said. "What I'm looking for is somebody down there who was affected by the hurricane situation.
"What I'm trying to do is get them to come here so they can use that as part of their recruiting. Arkansas State, Lafayette, Tulane may want to come out. We're trying to give someone out there a kick-start; 'OK, we've gone through this tragedy, but we can go to Hawaii for a game and help recruiting.' They can still have another game at home money wise."
Let the sun shine: Negotiations continue between UH and Aloha Stadium to lower the rent for Warrior football games. The Stadium Authority passed an amendment to its rules allowing negotiation two months ago, but had to do it again yesterday to meet Sunshine Law regulations. A public hearing must be held before the law can change; the hearing will likely be in conjunction with one on banning alcohol in the stadium parking lot.
"We voted to send the stadium rent (issue) to public hearing," authority chairman Kevin Chong Kee said. "We will accept the public's input. Basically, the rent for the football team is a budgetary item right now."
Frazier said he is optimistic UH will get a significant break on the nearly $800,000 it pays the state each year.
"We've had positive conversations with them," Frazier said. "We've continued those with Kenny Lum (interim stadium manager). We just keep working on those things, a lot of them have to go through the governor. I think she made it well known when she came down here and talked to the authority that she wants to make sure the university is taken care of.
"We just have to go through administrative procedures and that's a win for everyone."