New ‘Mane Man’ at safety?
Dane Porlas is among the candidates to replace long-haired Leonard Peters
The hair isn't quite as long nor the stature as imposing, but Dane Porlas is out to show he can fill the role vacated by senior safety Leonard Peters.
Porlas has been running with the Hawaii defense's first unit at safety during spring practice, and is part of a competition to step in for Peters, an All-Western Athletic Conference pick last season and one of the Warriors' spiritual leaders.
"I have to make the best of my opportunity," Porlas said after yesterday's practice. "I have to try to fight for (the starting job) no matter what."
Porlas, a junior listed at 5-foot-10, 179 pounds, has been lining up alongside senior Jacob Patek over the first two weeks of practice.
Patek, who ranked fifth on the team with 55 tackles and forced three fumbles in his first season with the Warriors, returns as the incumbent at one safety, with Porlas, Keao Monteilh and Desmond Thomas among those contending for the other spot. The Warriors also signed Erik Robinson, a heralded junior-college transfer from Navarro (Texas) Community College, to compete at safety in the fall.
"It's good to know you've got one veteran who's played a whole bunch of football (in Patek)," defensive backs coach Rich Miano said. "Dane has made some plays in the past and has been around the system to know what he's doing.
"We do enough package-wise where I think all those guys are going to help us in some way."
Porlas, like Peters, is recognizable for the mane flowing out of the bottom of his helmet. He got some playing time in 2005 when Peters missed most of the season due to a knee injury.
Peters returned for a sixth year last fall to post 74 total tackles, good for third on the team. He also had three interceptions, returning two for touchdowns.
"Leonard's shoes are big shoes to fill, but we have guys that want to get out there and be on the field," Patek said. "There's great competition out there at the safety positions right now."
Porlas earned a start against Fresno State during his freshman year and had a game-clinching interception against San Jose State. He also filled in at safety during practice last season when Peters was nursing injuries, then spent the months following UH's Hawaii Bowl win preparing for his shot at the starting job.
In the team's first practice in pads on Monday, Porlas opened the seven-on-seven period with an interception over the middle.
"I've got enough experience to try to get ready for this year," Porlas said. "I was just in the weight room all the time, working hard, doing anything extra I could."
Monteilh began his UH career as a cornerback and has impressed the coaches in making the transition to safety.
Monteilh started five games as a freshman in 2005, but didn't participate in spring practice last year. He rejoined the team in the fall, but didn't see much action outside of practice.
"We do so many different things, safeties have to be athletes," Miano said.
"(Monteilh) has good coverage skills and he's very instinctive. He's gotten faster and I credit that to (strength coach) Mel deLaura. I tell our guys when Keao came here he was a skinny little corner who wasn't that fast. He's faster now at 195 pounds than he was when he was 160, because he's put on good weight, so he's gotten stronger and faster."
The Warriors finished their second week of spring practice yesterday and have nine more sessions scheduled. The team resumes workouts Monday morning and has five practices next week.
"I see a lot of positive things. We got a lot done, but we've got a long way to go still," head coach June Jones said of the first six sessions. "We're still trying to get a snap from center half the time."
The Warriors are replacing Samson Satele at center and a few shotgun snaps rolled back to the quarterbacks or were mishandled during the team period at the end of practice.
"You have new centers, you have to live through the growing pains for a while," Jones said. "We go through it all the time."