'Canes a hit for UH
Flossie isn't the only hurricane causing a commotion in Hawaii.
Freshman linebacker Po'okela Ahmad is one of four Kapolei graduates on the Hawaii football roster. Despite playing at one of the deepest positions on the squad, the 6-foot-1, 225-pound freshman is making a case for early playing time.
Catch more updates on the UH Sports Extra blog
"He has shown the ability that he may be on the field his first year," linebackers coach Cal Lee said. "He's got some talent and we don't want to waste his talent sitting down and redshirting, so he may be playing."
Ahmad and high school classmate Alasi Toilolo both grayshirted last year and join transfers Jon Medeiros and Daniel Otineru as the first representatives of Kapolei to play at UH. Kapolei didn't graduate its first class until 2004.
It's a special thing for all four players, but all agreed that now it's about becoming a Warrior as much as it is being a Hurricane.
"We talk and stuff but we're not our own clique," Toilolo said. "It's more about bonding with the whole team."
Toilolo was brought to Hawaii on potential as much as anything. He didn't play football until midway through high school, but has developed some pass-rushing moves at defensive end that have given some of the offensive lineman fits, including starting tackle Keith AhSoon.
"When we looked at him as a high school player we thought he would fit in perfectly as an edge rusher here," defensive line coach Jeff Reinebold said. "He's got some unorthodox moves, but because they are unorthodox, they are not something you see every day, which really helps him."
Ahmad is playing the same position as in high school, but says the similarities end there. Understanding the team concept of defense and having to communicate constantly with the other guys have been a challenge.
He's also worked on his ability to drop into coverage and defend the pass.
"In high school I really didn't have to cover much," Ahmad said. "Coach (Darren Hernandez) made it easy for me, but here I have to start thinking more about what I have to do."
Medeiros returned to practice yesterday after missing a week with the flu. Like Ahmad, the 5-foot-8 slotback is struggling to earn playing time at another loaded position. Otineru is trying to make the team as a walk-on on the offensive line after spending two years at Saint Francis University on the East Coast.
Together, the four are paving the way for other athletes from Kapolei.
"They are truly trailblazers for Kapolei football," Hernandez said. "They are carrying the torch for our fledging program and for our community."