Ilaoa joins Peters for another year at UH
The NCAA grants an additional season of eligibility to the running back
If Hawaii has as much success with football opponents this fall as it had with the NCAA in the past week, watch out for the Warriors in 2006.
UH learned yesterday that another on-field and off-field leader, running back Nate Ilaoa, was granted an additional season of eligibility by the NCAA because of injuries earlier in his career. Similar news was received Tuesday regarding safety Leonard Peters.
"It's definitely a lot of stress off my shoulders," Ilaoa said. "Now I just have to continue to work out and get ready for the season."
Ilaoa's return means the Warriors bring back a starter at every offensive position except left and right guard.
UH running backs coach Mouse Davis was recruiting in Texas yesterday when told of Ilaoa's eligibility.
"That's exciting," Davis said. "He's a difference-maker. Good things happen when he gets the ball."
Knee and shoulder injuries kept Ilaoa off the field throughout 2004 and for all but one game in 2003, making him eligible to appeal for a sixth year of eligibility.
Last season, his first at running back, Ilaoa led the Warriors with 85 carries for 643 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry and 58.5 yards per game. He also caught 36 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown.
But Ilaoa was in coach June Jones' doghouse at the start of last season for reporting to fall camp out of shape. He eventually performed his way back into the coach's good graces.
Ilaoa, who is 5-feet-9, said yesterday he weighs 240 pounds, about 10 pounds lighter than what he played at most of last season.
Prior to last season, Ilaoa was a slotback. He played 12 games in 2002, catching 46 passes for 532 yards and three touchdowns.
Like Peters, he is among the most popular players among his teammates.
"They're both athletically gifted and great kids," Jones said. "They help motivate their teammates."
With their ability and experience, Ilaoa and Peters are keys to the Warriors bouncing back from a 5-7 record in 2005 and contending for a Western Athletic Conference championship.
UH is still awaiting word on similar appeals for running back Bryan Maneafaiga and receiver Ian Sample.
The return of Ilaoa and Peters continues a string of questions answered in the positive for several of the Warriors' top performers. The others are defensive end Melila Purcell, offensive lineman Samson Satele and wide receiver Jason Rivers.
"Now that you mention it, those are five of the best players on the team," Jones said. "I guess that's really good news."
» Last November, a UH official said Purcell -- listed as a senior last season -- was "on track" to have the 80 percent of the credits needed for graduation by the end of this summer. That would mean Purcell would regain the season of eligibility lost as a partial qualifier when he enrolled in 2002.
» Satele said last June he would consider leaving school after the 2005 season (his junior year) to make himself available for the NFL Draft. But he told Jones in January he would remain at UH. The All-WAC left guard will play center this fall.
» Rivers -- 14th on UH's career receiving-yardage list in just two seasons -- sat out 2005 with academic issues and an ankle injury. He returned to school and participated in spring practice in March and April. Rivers is eligible to play in the fall, as a junior with two seasons left to play two.
Also, speculation abounded that defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville would leave after his first season at Manoa, for a job as a head coach somewhere. But Glanville, formerly the head coach of the Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons with Jones on his staff in the late '80s and early '90s, re-upped with the Warriors for 2006.