McKnight returning to Warriors
The member of June Jones' first staff back to help with special teams and offensive line
After ending last season on the visitors sideline, Dennis McKnight will be back with the home team when he returns to Aloha Stadium this fall.
McKnight, a former assistant coach with the Hawaii football team and at San Diego State, is preparing to return to the Warriors, this time as a graduate assistant focusing on special teams and the offensive line.
"He was, I thought, one of the best coaches I've had over the years," UH head coach June Jones said yesterday. "He loves the kids and the kids play hard for him. I think he'll help us both on special teams and with the o-line."
McKnight will fill the vacancy left when Jeff Reinebold, a graduate assistant last season, was hired as the full-time defensive line coach to replace Vantz Singletary.
McKnight was a member of Jones' original coaching staff at UH in 1999, coordinating the special teams units during the Warriors' turnaround season, going from 0-12 to 9-4 and victory in the Oahu Bowl.
Following the 2000 season, he returned home to San Diego and coached two seasons at Grossmont College and was
tight ends coach at San Diego State last season.
The Aztecs closed the year with a 49-38 loss to the Warriors at Aloha Stadium last December. SDSU fired head coach Tom Craft soon after, leaving McKnight among the assistants suddenly without a job.
Jones had kept in touch with McKnight, who was a regular visitor to the islands after leaving the program and attended UH's spring practices.
"He's been here pretty much every spring, not coaching, but always watching," Jones said.
McKnight played 11 seasons in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers (1982-89), Detroit Lions (1990 and 92), and Philadelphia Eagles (1991). Jones was an assistant with the Lions during McKnight's first season in Detroit. McKnight was also teammates with UH defensive backs coach Rich Miano in Philadelphia.
"Dennis is a motivator," Miano said. "Dennis is passionate about football, he adds enthusiasm, he's just a different kind of guy that's a lot of fun."
Graduate assistants are paid a monthly stipend that doesn't stretch very far. But Reinebold said accepting the job last year put him in position for a full-time job this season.
"If you want to be some place, sometimes you have to make the sacrifices it takes to be there," Reinebold said.
"In my situation, I was very fortunate to have saved enough money working for the NFL to be able to do it for one year. I couldn't have come back a second year, I financially couldn't have done it. The cards all broke right me, so I'm very fortunate and very blessed to be here.
"If you're in this business for money, number one, you probably won't be in it very long because there isn't a lot for most guys. And number two, you're in it for the wrong reasons and the players will sense that."
With less than three weeks before the start of fall camp, Jones said he's still awaiting word from the NCAA on the status of appeals filed by receiver Ian Sample and running back Bryan Maneafaiga.
Both were listed as seniors last year and are seeking another year of eligibility after missing most of the season with injuries.
"I'm hoping to hear shortly because we're getting right down to the end," Jones said.
Sample caught 12 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Idaho. Maneafaiga played in two games last season, catching a touchdown pass against USC before being sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Safety Leonard Peters and running back Nate Ilaoa were granted extensions to the five-year rule by the NCAA.