JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Junior college transfer Jacob Patek has an edge over Brad Kalilimoku at strong safety, UH coach June Jones said.
Patek moves ahead of Kalilimoku
There's still a lot of time before the opener, but the new strong safety has impressed the coach
Newcomer Jacob Patek has moved ahead of Brad Kalilimoku for the starting position at strong safety, according to Hawaii football coach June Jones, speaking after yesterday morning's practice.
"I would say he's got a little bit of a lead at that spot," Jones said of Patek, a junior-college transfer. "He's a football player. Takes good angles, smart. He looks like what you're looking for."
Patek and Kalilimoku both know a lot can change between now and the Sept. 2 season-opening game at Alabama.
"I can't let up. It's a competition every day," said Patek, a 6-foot, 202-pound junior. "We're getting ready to play Alabama and compete with them. But also it's competition here every day. You never know when you might have a bad day and someone else might shine. I have to come out here and show the coaches I want it, Brad has to come out and show the coaches he wants it. Right now we're brothers on the same team, but we're fighting for the same thing against each other."
Kalilimoku, a 5-10, 213-pound junior, started at inside linebacker last year. He was moved to strong safety in spring practice.
"No use crying about it, that doesn't do anything. Just got to push forward and keep on trying," Kalilimoku said of the battle for the starting position. "It's good. I can't slack off and I have someone pushing me."
The player who is No. 2 against the Crimson Tide will still see time on the field as a nickel back as well as in relief of the starter.
"We'll be using those guys in a lot of different ways. And we'll be rotating a lot of guys at Alabama, because of the (hot) weather," Jones said.
By the numbers, Part One: Patek chose No. 31 because of a former Rainbow he'd never heard of until a few months ago.
When defensive line coach Jeff Reinebold recruited Patek out of Blinn Junior College in Texas, he raved about David Maeva, a former UH linebacker he coached in the CFL.
Maeva was known for his intensity, speed and hard hitting.
"I saw him (play) on tape and met him and I thought would be a great honor to wear his number," Patek said. "I love the way he played and I want to model the way I play after him. I asked him and he gave me the right to wear his number.
Reinebold said he told Patek that his style of play reminded him of Maeva, whom he considers "the best football player I've ever coached."
"I also told him, 'Don't you dare put on that shirt unless you plan to bring it every play," Reinebold said.
By the numbers, Part Two: Sophomore wide receiver Dylan Linkner finally got his Kailua High School number, 81, this week after Ian Sample switched to No. 3.
And so far, so good. The new No. 81 got behind the defense for a long touchdown pass during a team segment yesterday.
Quarterback Colt Brennan said all the number switching can be confusing.
"Sometimes we're watching tape and, we're, 'Nice play Ian, oh, sorry, Dylan.' And the first day Ian had 3, 'Who is that?' "
Linkner's enough of a realist to know he still has a long way to go to get consideration for serious playing time this fall, with guys who have started including Sample, Ross Dickerson, Chad Mock and Jason Rivers two-deep on both wings.
He's willing to keep working and waiting.
"For some guys it gets to them. Honestly, we're a tight bunch, so a lot of the best part is being out here together. It's not that much of a thing, that, I gotta get in front of this guy," the 6-foot, 202-pound Linkner said. "You trust coach's decision and you have to be a team player about it. You want the best out there playing and if you're not one of them it's your job to support them and to do your best to become one of them."
He said he's never thought about transferring.
"The coaches have told me I've gotten better and I'm progressing. At least I'm not going downhill. I'm still on the uphill slope."
Brennan said Linkner is "very well-liked and respected."
"He's one of those guys that's true to it when he says he just wants to make the team better," Brennan added. "Every player's going to get frustrated when they don't have opportunities. It says a lot that he's always out here with a positive attitude."
On the corner: Another JC transfer had a good practice yesterday. Cornerback Gerard Lewis caught Jones' eye, and for the right reason.
"He's got some speed," Jones said. "I noticed him about three or four times, making plays."
Lewis worked out with the second team yesterday.
"I'm getting comfortable. I was learning last week," he said. "I'm picking up the defense and getting a lot of reps."
Lewis said he didn't get any other Division I offers out of Tyler Junior College in Texas because of his size (5-9, 168).
"But I think I have the skills to cover receivers and I can run," he said. "It's a great coaching staff here. They know a lot. All we have to do is listen and execute. We go up against a passing game every day. That will help us a lot on Saturdays."
Short yardage: The Warriors are off today. ... Jones plans an Aloha Stadium practice before leaving for Alabama at the end of the month. ... Mike Lafaele, the No. 1 nose tackle, also came back after missing time with a sore neck. ... First-string center Sam Satele eased back with limited duty. He's still nursing a tender Achilles' heel. ... Rivers got wide open deep down the middle, but dropped a perfect pass from Tyler Graunke. But on the very next play, Graunke hit him behind the defense on a streak pattern and this time Rivers held on. "He's had a great camp," Jones said of Rivers. ... Walk-on junior Micah Lau took reps with the second-team defense at outside linebacker.