UH coach Singletary leaving for I-AA
The defensive line assistant is taking the step down to be closer to family
Once, he brought a passive defensive lineman into his office and put him on the phone without telling him who was on the other side.
It was the deeply religious Reggie White. And after a fire-and-brimstone speech from the now-deceased Hall-of-Famer, the meek player went out and had the game of his life.
"The Dog Pound" won't be the same without Vantz Singletary.
Singletary, the free-spirited but dedicated Hawaii defensive line coach, is leaving Manoa for a similar job at Tennessee-Chattanooga after seven years with the Warriors.
He coached future NFL players in Isaac Sopoaga and Travis LaBoy, and he did it in a style all his own -- sometimes wearing face paint during games, sometimes dancing in the middle of his players after practice, as they chanted, "Who let the dogs out?"
Singletary leaves for Tennessee on Tuesday.
"They're starting spring ball in about three weeks, so this gives me a chance to get there and meet the players, look at the playbook and film," Singletary said.
The Mocs are a Division I-AA program. So Singletary -- who has always had his eye on the NFL -- is seemingly taking a step down.
But Singletary, 40, said he took the job to get closer to his aging parents in Houston, as well as his wife Shawndra's family.
Warriors coach June Jones said Singletary will be missed.
"He was a diligent worker, very efficient," Jones said. "I'm glad for him that he has an opportunity to get back to the mainland and get closer to his family."
Singletary said he will always consider the UH staff and players his family, too. He credits Jones for "giving me a chance to coach here, and possibly saving my life."
Singletary weighed 385 pounds after the 2000 season. He said a challenge by Jones motivated him to lose nearly 100 pounds and keep almost all of it off.
"I really believe that he saved my life," Singletary said. "You know, sometimes you just need encouragement, a challenge. I took it to heart."
Jones said he has already received inquiries from several prospects to replace Singletary. He said graduate assistant Jeff Reinebold, a former CFL head coach, is among those applying.
Jones didn't mention other possibilities, but candidates could include former UH players Joe Seumalo, Maa Tanuvasa, Keith Bhonapha and Tony Tuioti. Former UH special teams coach Dennis McKnight could also be a candidate to return to the Warriors -- he was on the San Diego State staff, but was not retained by new head coach Chuck Long.
"I can't comment on any of that until we get through the protocol," Jones said.
One of the last things Singletary will do in Hawaii is attend LaBoy's wedding Saturday to former UH volleyball player Nohea Tano. LaBoy recently completed his second season with the Tennessee Titans.
"We will be real close -- hopefully I'll get a chance to catch a game or two," Singletary said. "My wife and kids are very fond of him. He's just like family."
Singletary was like a relative to all his players. His office, which he called "The Dog Pound," was always open, and he invited any Warriors who had no place to go each Thanksgiving to his home.
"They're all my sons," said the father of four daughters. "I'll miss them all, as well as my brothers on the coaching staff."