UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII FOOTBALL
UH starts tomorrow
But touted running back Leon Wright-Jackson cannot practice yet
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Leon Wright-Jackson is expected to compete for the starting running back position at Hawaii, and the possible replacement for Nate Ilaoa arrived on Oahu yesterday afternoon. The Warriors open fall camp tomorrow.
Before Wright-Jackson can take the field, though, written verification of completion of his associate's degree must be received by UH.
Wright-Jackson, a Parade All-American in high school, went to junior college after transferring from Nebraska last year.
Yesterday he was among several Warriors in limbo -- some are awaiting the completion of the second semester of summer school before they can suit up for perhaps the most anticipated season in UH football history.
Many prognosticators have the Warriors in their preseason Top 25, and some give them a chance to win all 12 regular-season games.
Most of the players were scheduled to report today. Tomorrow's first practice includes the annual 220-yard conditioning runs.
"Let's run," junior slotback Ryan Grice-Mullins said. "We're ready to get started."
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Heralded running back Leon Wright-Jackson arrived in the islands yesterday, but he can't practice with his new Hawaii football teammates until verification of completion of his associate's degree is received.
Wright-Jackson completed work on his degree this summer at Columbia Basin College (Wash.) after transferring from Nebraska last year.
Wright-Jackson rushed for nearly 1,800 yards and scored 25 touchdowns as a senior at Pasco Senior High School. The Parade All-American left Nebraska after being moved from running back to safety. A 2004 high school graduate, Wright-Jackson will be a junior this fall.
UH opens fall camp tomorrow morning at the grass practice field with a practice from 9:30 until 11:30, including the annual set of 10 220-yard runs to test the players' conditioning. The practices are free and open to the public.
Players checked in today. They filled out paperwork and got settled into their residence for the next two weeks at the UH dance studios.
The 105-player roster isn't completely set yet, as some transfers like Wright-Jackson need to get paperwork in and some returnees need to wait until they successfully complete the second semester of summer school.
Cornerback Keenan Jones and safety B.J. Fruean are among those who appear to be qualified because of a good summer in the classrooms but will have to wait a few days until grades are in.
Neither participated in practices last spring due to off-field issues. Sources said both are on track to reinstatement.
Keenan Jones said he was told yesterday by coach June Jones to report today and be ready to practice once the grades are in.
"Everything's falling into place," said Keenan Jones, who was expected to compete for a starting cornerback spot last fall after an outstanding junior college career. "Things have been hard, but I put myself in that position. I'm just trying to not make the same mistakes I made in the past."
Jones could have two seasons left to play if a medical redshirt is approved.
Third-year sophomore Fruean is a 2005 Leilehua graduate. He played in 12 games as a true freshman at UH, mostly on special teams.
Linebacker Masi Tuitama of Pacifica High School in Oxnard, Calif., was expected to join UH in fall camp, but a source said yesterday that Tuitama will instead honor an oral commitment to BYU.
The status of junior defensive end Jon Fonoti was not clear yesterday, but sources said it appears Fonoti has made good academic progress and will be back on the team after sitting out last year when he was expected to start.
Senior outside linebacker Francis Maka is also awaiting a summer school grade.
Running back Cameron Carmona, who was briefly a teammate of UH quarterback Colt Brennan's at Mater Dei High School (Calif.), may be joining fall camp.
"I'm scheduled to join the team when school starts (Aug. 20). But if somebody drops out they'll get me into camp," said Carmona, who played safety and cornerback at Fullerton Junior College (Calif.).