UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII FOOTBALL
Thomas feels wrath of Graunke
Tyler Graunke and Desmond Thomas are good friends, but that doesn't stop them from going after each other on the football field.
Graunke was intercepted by Thomas, a free safety, near the end of practice yesterday. The Warriors' No. 2 quarterback clobbered Thomas on the return with a tackle so loud it had heads turning.
Some were surprised to see it was the quarterback dealing the blow -- but not those who know Graunke.
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"It's just a lot of adrenaline pumping after I throw a pick. I don't think that much and I saw my opportunity. ... We joke as quarterbacks there should be five orange jerseys on his (butt) if the guy just got a pick but I was just running a little too hard and he cut back right on me and it was either hit him or go by and I hit him. It was just instincts I don't know, I just got mad when I threw the pick. Dez and I are good friends and I apologized to him."
Thomas' second pick in two days got him some points in the close competition at free safety with Keao Monteilh, which coach June Jones said yesterday is "pretty even." It also left him with thoughts of payback.
"We're not supposed to hit the quarterbacks and I guess they're not supposed to hit us but it's all good," Thomas said. "I was sitting there about to pitch the ball and I ended up keeping it and Tyler just comes on a frickin' sprint from 20 yards away straight down and just blows me up. ... Next thing I know, BOOM. ... I think I might have a little something for him tomorrow."
Graunke is a combative player even when he's not protected by the orange jersey.
"Dez understands I got a competitive nature. The only pick I threw in college I brought the guy down by his neck," Graunke said.
Sierra College (Calif.) junior transfer Josh Leonard -- no relation to linebacker Adam Leonard -- is getting a good look as both defensive end and tackle on the second-team defense.
"I feel real good about (my play) right now," said Leonard, a first-team junior college All-America choice last year. "They're adding me into the nickel and Okie packages."
He excelled as a pass-rusher at Sierra with 33 sacks over two years. Projected starters Amani Purcell and Karl Noa have helped show Leonard the ropes.
"I love it so far, the team's great. Especially the D-line I'm learning from, they have two of the best ends probably in college football ahead of me. They're all real helpful."
Among summer school, fall practice and settling in the islands with his girlfriend, Leonard has barely any time to take in his new surroundings. He scurried off to take a final exam moments after the first of yesterday's two-a-day practices.
Sophomore linebacker Brashton Satele saw increased action yesterday with the third-team defense, a byproduct of starter Blaze Soares' subluxed shoulder.
Satele can empathize with Soares. He got a late start on the Warriors' 2006 campaign after suffering a deep thigh bruise, and battled through myriad injuries throughout the year.
"He's gonna come back. (I'm) just trying to stay healthy. That's the main thing, stay healthy," Satele said.
Even though expectations are high -- he is the son of UH star Alvis and Wahine volleyball standout Lee Ann (Pestana) Satele -- he isn't trying to press his case beyond what he can do on the practice field.
"Pretty low on the depth, but trying to work my way up every week," Satele said. "Big footsteps to fill, yeah? Sam (Satele, his cousin), my dad, everybody. Just trying my best."
UH is fairly healthy overall after the first week of fall camp, but Jones is a little concerned about a couple of the injuries.
Soares and center John Estes (sprained elbow) are two players UH is counting on heavily this year.
"Right now we've lost probably two of our best players," said Jones, and they won't be rushed back. "They're out for a while, we'll get them back by the time school starts (Aug. 20) I hope."
Estes has participated to some degree the last two days. Also, starting receiver Jason Rivers returned after a day off with a sore foot.
Jones also said junior college transfer cornerback Calvin Roberts is here, enrolled in school and "hopefully he'll be out here tomorrow."
Jones said he does not know when or if another JC corner, Ryan Mouton, will arrive.
JC transfer defensive lineman Chris Leatigaga took a summer school final yesterday, and is ready to practice, Jones added.
Billy Hull, Brian McInnis and Jason Kaneshiro of the Star-Bulletin contributed to this report