UH has new big man on campus
IF Ikaika Alama-Francis' transformation from 190-pound basketball player to 270-pound stud still stuns you, hold on. That isn't even half the story. You want a transformation?
Try kid couch potato to 270-pound stud.
And you aren't the only one stunned.
"I saw a high school picture of me the other day," Alama-Francis said, giggling, yesterday at Hawaii's last spring practice before spring break. "I don't look like the same person."
But again, that's nothing. At least the now-defensive lineman was playing basketball then. A few years before that, he didn't even give sports a second thought.
Ikaika is always asked why he'd never played football growing up, why he waited until college.
Growing up, he wasn't playing anything, he said.
That's right. He was living every fifth-grade boy's fantasy: He did nothing.
"I really didn't know what I was doing," he said. "I wasn't really much into sports. Just kind of played video games every day."
Much has been made about Alama-Francis' father, former NFL QB Joe Francis, not pushing his son into football. He probably would have settled for pushing Ikaika outside.
"He told me stop being lazy," Ikaika said, with a laugh.
Don't worry now. It's taken quite a bit of effort to add all those pounds, to go from novice status to the cover of the spring prospectus.
After leaving UH basketball, which he "was loving," he spent the last few years "not really knowing what I was doing or what was going on. And the coaches just told me work, work, work and that's all I did."
And it worked. Again.
After all, Ikaika had become a basketball star after only taking up sports in the ninth grade on a "Why not?" move. (As in, he was tall -- why not?)
And you know what? It seemed sports was a lot of fun, after all.
"It taught me discipline, different things," he said.
How is this not one of those HMSA "get active" commercials, like the one where the guy talks to his golf clubs. Or the dog tells the man to go for a walk. Or the one where the kid -- sound familiar? -- puts down the video game and goes outside to shoot hoops.
This one beats them all.
"Loving it. Loving it. Loving every minute of it," Alama-Francis said.
But look at what he'd been missing all those years. Just think, back in high school, he could have been big!
And at the thought of that, he laughs the laugh of a man who's having the time of his life.
Of course he can play football.
"I never picked up bad habits in high school," he said.
It sounds like that's when he started giving them up.