Sweet home, Honolulu
Hoover High School graduate Korey Reynolds is determined to make an impact with the Hawaii football team
It's 4,361 miles from Hoover, Ala., to Honolulu, and Korey Reynolds feels each one of them.
Regardless of the distance, however, the Hoover High School graduate is determined to make an impact with the Hawaii football team. Reynolds hasn't officially been slotted into a position yet at fall camp, but the 6-foot-3, 235-pound former defensive end is anxious to step in anywhere he can make a difference.
Meanwhile, his life here since June is still an adjustment in progress.
"It's very different," Reynolds said. "It's not as humid, and you've got the beach right there. The mountains, rain forests. It's definitely different."
The poofy-haired freshman paused.
"And uh, the culture. It's a culture shock."
It took a measure of courage for Reynolds to spurn such nearby suitors as Houston, Southern Miss, Illinois, and Ole Miss, not to mention Alabama and Auburn, which wanted him to grayshirt. But he liked what he saw from the Warriors during Hawaii's 25-17 loss to the Crimson Tide last Sept. 2 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, and that meant something to him.
"He loves football, and he had a couple of opportunities to stay close to home," UH coach June Jones said. "I think he felt something here when he went on his recruiting trip, he and his mother. We're glad he made the decision. I think he's got a bright future: real athletic, and got pretty good quickness. He's got everything it takes to certainly be a player."
Now, it's all about getting out of his old comfort zone and into a new one.
"Oh, man. I just miss being home, the surroundings, I guess," said Reynolds, who noted that being part of a Caucasian minority in Hawaii was something new. "Just gotta get out of it and get used to it."
For one thing, the Hawaiian names can trip Reynolds up.
He contemplated the name of his new dormitory apartment at UH.
"Uilani? Ualani? Waiani? Wainani. Yeah, Wainani."
Hey, a fourth try isn't so bad.
That's where teammates on this tight-knit team come into play. David Veikune, Amani Purcell and others have helped him on the field, while some of the younger grayshirts have shown him around the island. He tried his hand at surfing and has been up to the North Shore ("Everything 'cept the hiking, haven't done that yet").
"It's (been) pretty good, guys are real friendly," he said. "I think it's starting to get the 'team' feeling. All that, trying to be accepted. It's working out pretty good."
While Jones said Reynolds would "probably be a defensive end" the coach also acknowledged he might give him a chance on offense at some point. Reynolds bore the golden-yellow jersey of a scout-teamer on Monday, but sported the standard green jersey of a defensive regular yesterday.
As the son of a former Tennessee Tech offensive guard, Reynolds has high expectations for himself and of his team. Hoover High was ranked No. 1 nationally the first nine weeks of his senior year, and the Buccaneers went 14-2 as the state runner-ups.
Now, instead of being a key member on a team featured on a national TV show (MTV's "Two-A-Days"), Reynolds is a relatively anonymous freshman who will likely be redshirted.
But there is a sense of familiarity for him. Standards are high for the No. 24 Warriors.
"The way we practice here is the way we practice in Hoover," he said. "High tempo, so it's easier (of a transition), but not easy (overall)."
All considered, how has Reynolds taken to his new home?
"Ask me in about a week, and I'll see if I got this yellow jersey off of me, and then I'll be happy," Reynolds said with a slight grin.