Warriors receiving unit takes a big hit
UH's training room is filling up as three receivers go down
Plus one, minus three. Not the numbers Hawaii receivers coach Ron Lee likes -- especially when it comes to injuries.
Senior starting wideout Ross Dickerson is finally running routes with the Warriors after missing the first two weeks of spring practice due to successful ankle surgery.
But UH had sophomore slotback Ryan Grice-Mullins and senior wideout Kenny Patton out with hamstring injuries yesterday, with Grice-Mullins on crutches. He said he expects to be sidelined about a month.
Then junior slotback Pat Olchovy -- getting more reps with the absence of Grice-Mullins -- pulled a hamstring, too.
And it's not just the receivers.
After an injury-free first half of camp, the Warriors' training room nears capacity.
Junior linebacker Timo Paepule (hyper-extended elbow), junior nose tackle Mike Lafaele (strained calf) and senior Leonard Peters (food poisoning) all sat out yesterday.
Paepule is in a cast, but is expected back in plenty of time for fall camp. Lafaele could play now if necessary.
Junior safety Brad Kalilimoku returned to practice after battling a hamstring pull for two weeks.
"But you can tell he's not 100 percent. He doesn't want to run on it," defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville said. "As for Leonard, I think he ate some haole food. Gotta keep him away from that."
Coach June Jones said he isn't alarmed. If this were August rather than April, he'd be concerned.
"Just pulls. Nothing major. We've been doing a lot of running," he said.
Some of the slots lodged behind Grice-Mullins and Davone Bess -- each of whom caught passes for more than 1,000 yards as freshmen last fall -- took the opportunity yesterday to show they're ready to play.
"It was a fantastic practice in that regard," Lee said. "Quez Jackson, Michael
Washington, they got a lot of reps. Aaron Bain, Rick Taylor. They all got reps, and that's what's going to make them better.
"We did a lot of feel-plays, and they all showed they're learning and developing their feel for what we're doing," Lee added.
Jones also said he was impressed with Washington's progress. The speedy sophomore from Aliquippa, Pa., is playing slot after debuting at wideout last fall.
Senior Nate Ilaoa is also helping fill the void at slotback, taking some reps at the position at which he began his UH career in 2001.
Bain walked on last year and got enough playing time to catch five passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
"He was impressive. Every time he got in the game, he made plays, and he made big plays," Jones said. "He's very capable and going to be a good player."
The 5-foot-9 sophomore has bulked up to 186 pounds from the 175 he played at last year.
"I'm trying to get stronger so I don't get jammed at the line, and so I can block better," Bain said.
Bess and Grice-Mullins are locks as starting slotbacks when the Warriors open up at Alabama on Sept. 2. But Lee only has to point back to last fall's opener against USC to show the importance of depth.
Jason Ferguson blew out his knee on the first play, and had to be replaced by Grice-Mullins -- and Grice-Mullins ended up leading the Warriors with 1,228 receiving yards.
"Everybody needs to be ready to go. You never know when you're going to have to go in. Look what happened to Fergie, opening kickoff," Lee said.