DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Joshua Tuua of Farrington ran the "L" drill at yesterday's combine. The drill tests agility and the abiltiy to change direction.
Combine gives coaches early look at preps
Dozens of coaches, most of whom flew thousands of miles to be in attendance, gathered at Saint Louis School to watch 125 of Hawaii's football players on display at yesterday's 5th annual PIAA Hawaii High School Football Combine. All of the schools in attendance had ties to Hawaii players.
"The players in Hawaii are passionate, talented and well-coached," Oregon State head coach Mike Riley said. "High school football is so important here and I love the intensity this state has for football."
As more and more mainland universities take a hard look at players in the island chain, Riley's roster already boasts 10 Hawaii-born players Among the most-storied BCS schools sending representatives here were Tennessee, UCLA, California and Colorado.
The University of Hawaii sent three coaches to the combine.
"Most of the top athletes from the islands are here," said Colorado linebacker coach Brian Cabral, a former Saint Louis linebacker who also played for the Buffaloes. "For the coaches, this is a great opportunity to see a great collection of athletes do some things on the football field."
"This is a well-organized event in a great venue," Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. "There are a lot of successful Hawaii players from our program and it makes sense for us to come out and evaluate the talent."
While the BCS schools may have been the headliners, PIAA Combine Coordinator and former Saint Louis standout quarterback Darnell Arceneaux explained a different aspect of the event.
"The reason why we do it is because of the exposure," said Arceneaux, who played at Utah. "When I played not too long ago, there was nothing like this. Guys thought that if UH didn't offer them scholarships their career was over.
"This combine opens so many doors for these kids because we send out the tape to almost every school in the country. Now they know that even if they can't play in Division I, they can still play college football."
The combine was split into morning and afternoon sessions, with the morning session's top draw being the 40-yard dash. Players also had a chance to show strength, agility and explosiveness by bench-pressing, running cone drills and testing for vertical leap.
The afternoon session had 1-on-1 drills and was highlighted by full-speed lineman battles in the trenches. On the opposite side of the field, wide receivers and defensive backs competed for passes being tossed by Hawaii's top high school quarterbacks.
"It's a great event for kids to get exposed," Saint Louis head coach Delbert Tengan said. "It is a win-win situation because players have the opportunity to show their skills and the coaches see in person that they are recruiting talented athletes. The combine has really evolved and done a lot to help Hawaii high school football players."