Patek gets the nod at strong safety
Junior college transfer Jacob Patek will start at strong safety in the Hawaii football season opener at Alabama on Saturday, coach June Jones said after yesterday's practice. He also said Brad Kalilimoku, hampered by a recurring hamstring strain throughout the preseason, will be on the travel roster.
"Brad is making the trip with the idea that he might be able to help us on special teams," Jones said.
Kalilimoku, third on the team with 71 tackles as an inside linebacker last year, remained out of drills yesterday.
"Hopefully, I'll be ready to play. I just have to be smart. It's hard, I want to get in there with the boys, but (defensive coordinator Jerry) Glanville kicks me out," Kalilimoku said. "Jacob's ready. I support him."
The 6-foot, 202-pound Patek made 96 tackles as an outside linebacker at Blinn Junior College in Texas last year.
"My goal was to start, so I feel great and it's an honor," Patek said. "Brad got hurt and I had to step up. Sometimes you only get one chance and you have to make the most of it.
"Playing at Alabama's going to be pretty intense," he added. "I'm sure I'll be nervous and have some butterflies before the game. But once it starts, you just play the game."
During recruiting, the Hawaii coaches expected Patek could contribute right away from what they saw of him on tape.
"He's what we thought he was," Jones said.
"Patek was real good today. Probably his best day today," Glanville said. "We all know what kind of player Brad is. I think having today and (Sunday) off will help him. We'll see how he is Monday."
Senior Mike Malala is the backup to Patek and Kalilimoku.
C.J. Hawthorne appears set to start at one corner. The other No. 1, A.J. Martinez, came out with a recurring groin strain yesterday; Kenny Patton took the reps -- and made the most of them, according to Glanville.
"Twenty-four (Patton) had a career day today," he said.
Keenan Jones cleared: There was more news impacting the Warriors secondary; highly regarded JUCO cornerback Keenan Jones was finally cleared to practice after waiting out an NCAA and UH administrative roadblock.
Jones earned his associate's degree from Compton Junior College, but also needed a waiver from the NCAA for one class. UH received approval of the waiver yesterday.
"I'm just very grateful and happy. I think the fact that I got my AA gave me leverage with the NCAA on this," said Jones, who did not learn of the clearance in time to practice yesterday.
Jones stayed with slotbacks Davone Bess and Jason Ferguson for two weeks while awaiting clearance.
"He played against Jason in high school," Bess said. "Jason said he's a great player. He's a good guy. I'm glad we were able to help out a new Warrior.
"I'd always see him with his nose in the playbook. And he asked us a lot of questions. That's the sign of a player. You can't get fed with your mouth closed. He's humble and hungry."
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Jones was considered a prime contender for a starting spot until he missed all of fall camp, plus last week's practices.
June Jones said Keenan Jones might still make the Alabama travel roster.
"We don't know yet on Keenan," the coach said. "But he might be able to play special teams (at Alabama). I'm glad we have a bye week after Alabama, because that will give him time before our next game."
Keenan Jones must go through a five-day indoctrination process that all players do when they begin to practice. It includes two days of helmet and three of helmet and pads before full pads.
"I don't know if I'll be ready, but we'll see," he said. "I would understand if the coaches decide not to take me, because the rest of the team has been out here all month working hard. I'll do whatever I can."
June Jones said the roster will be finalized after tomorrow's practice. In addition to Keenan Jones, cornerback/special teams player Ryan Keomaka is among the players on the bubble.
Short yardage: No. 1 outside linebacker Brashton Satele returned once again to contact drills. He's continually battled a quadricep bruise since the third day of fall camp. ... Special teams player and reserve outside linebacker Victor "Bully" Fergerstrom is still out and won't make the trip. He suffered hip and back injuries during a contact drill Aug. 18. ... Starting slotback Ryan Grice-Mullins pulled up lame and needed medical attention after what looked like a routine catch yesterday. But Grice-Mullins said he just felt a little temporary tightness in his hip, and it had nothing to do with the fully healed hamstring he strained in the spring.