DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
UH football coaches worked with young intermediate and high school football players yesterday at the UH practice field. Kamehameha's Manaola Hewett ran through the block of Pearl Harbor Intermediate's Breiden Fehoko toward the tackle dummy.
Prospects get up close and personal
Several participants finish UH clinic with scholarship offers
STORY SUMMARY »
Christian Vasconcellos arrived at the Hawaii Football Clinic an unknown.
He left it with a scholarship.
The Damien Memorial High School athlete told the Star-Bulletin he orally committed to UH after he was offered a football scholarship yesterday based on his performance at the clinic.
Vasconcellos, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound defensive back, said he was as surprised as anyone.
"My goal was to play Division I football and play here, but I wasn't getting noticed by UH," he said. "All I got was a questionnaire when I was a sophomore, so I started thinking mainland. Now I'm happy because I don't think I can leave my grandma (Nancy Vasconcellos), and I can play in front of my family."
Vasconcellos said it is his first college football scholarship offer. He said he signed up for the clinic to "get on the radar."
He has played cornerback, safety and wide receiver at Damien. He is also one of the state's best triple jumpers. Vasconcellos will probably be a safety at UH.
Vasconcellos was among around 400 high-school-age football players who attended the four-day clinic, the first of its kind in UH coach June Jones' nine-year tenure. Another 200 younger players attended a two-day clinic last weekend.
FULL STORY »
A clinic is one of the places where college football coaches are allowed to have contact with prospects.
And yesterday at the University of Hawaii, there was also quite a bit of contact among the participants themselves at the final day of UH's first event of this kind in nearly a decade.
Pads? Who needs pads?
During the final rotation of the four-day clinic, the offensive and defensive linemen squared off for physical 1-on-1 battles. The finale featured Pac-Five defensive end Aaron Tipoti and Kamehameha tackle Mykenna Ikehara - both of whom have already received scholarship offers from the Warriors.
They worked each other hard, with a collision worthy of Aloha Stadium in October. But Ikehara kept Tipoti under wraps as UH defensive line coach Jeff Reinebold and Damien coach Brian Derby, one of the state's most noted offensive line tutors, verbally motivated them.
"I liked it. I learned a lot," Ikehara said afterward.
Tipoti said going up against one of the clinic's best offensive linemen was a fun way to end it.
"It's awesome. He's a great tackle and I'm looking forward to playing against him (in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu) this year," Tipoti said.
Damien defensive back Christian Vasconcellos (6-foot-1, 180 pounds, 4.6 40) performed so well that UH offered him a scholarship, which he accepted.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
UH head football coach June Jones addressed camp participants after they completed drills yesterday.
Baldwin offensive lineman Sean Tesoro also earned a scholarship offer from UH coach June Jones, after just two days at the clinic. The 6-2, 275-pound guard prospect also showed well at camps at Oregon State and Oregon this summer, as well as on Maui.
"I haven't decided yet, but Hawaii's definitely in my top two," said Tesoro, who is also hoping for an offer from the Beavers. "I've always wanted to play for UH, but I think I should take my time to decide."
About 400 high-school-age players went through the paces this week, tutored by UH coaches as well as former Hawaii players and high school coaches. Another 200 younger players participated last weekend.
Kamana Kaimikaua was one of around 10 out-of-state high school athletes to attend. The grandnephew of Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann was born in Hawaii but lives in Las Vegas where he goes to perennial football power Bishop Gorman. The 6-2, 195-pound receiver/free safety has 4.6 speed. He has an offer from Nevada.
Receiver Jermaine Kearse (6-2, 170, 4.5) has offers from most of the Pac-10 schools. The second cousin of Philadelphia Eagles' defensive end Jevon Kearse was among several Lakes High School players in attendance - including his quarterback, Calvin Schmidtke (6-0, 186).
Kearse said it was a possibility when asked if he and Schmidtke might be a package deal.
Castle defensive tackle Solomon Koehler is considered by some as the best prospect in the state.
"I'm very excited about the idea of staying home. Hawaii's at least in the top three," Koehler said.
Arizona, Colorado and Oregon State are also in his sights.
Warriors defensive backs coach Rich Miano said the clinic can help develop future UH fans in addition to identifying future UH players.
"This is good for our marketing, too," Miano said. "Not all of these players can play on our team, but we're selling season tickets, we're giving out schedule cards.
"We want them and their families to know we need their support and we appreciate it. We'll definitely have this again next year."