Warriors adjust to roles
The Allen-Jones brothers show the UH coaches that they can adapt to different positions
THE only thing that has remained the same in the football careers of C.J. and Cameron Allen-Jones is change.
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The brothers from Aberdeen, Md., have made a living so far on the University of Hawaii football team by displaying versatility and a determination to make themselves available wherever and however possible.
And the team has taken them up on it. Both players -- C.J, now an outside linebacker, and Cameron, listed as an offensive lineman -- played both offense and defense at Aberdeen High School, helping guide the team to a 2003 state championship. In the title game alone, C.J. had two touchdowns, 10 tackles and a blocked punt.
"It was both sides of the ball because we had no choice. Not very much people on the team so we played both ways," said the 6-foot-2, 273-pound Cameron, who followed his brother to UH after one year at Marshall.
C.J., a 6-2, 222-pound junior and older of the two by a year, has seen his role on the team shift continuously since joining the Warriors in 2004. His career has been a story of highs and lows: C.J. began primarily on special teams by blocking for Chad Owens on punt returns as a true freshman. Then, after redshirting 2005 due to an ankle injury, he was last year's starter at outside linebacker four of the first five games of the season.
But he was slowed by injuries and lost the job, becoming a reserve the second half of the season. He now backs up Blaze Soares at stub linebacker. Things were made harder for him by UH's decision to shift from the 3-4 defensive alignment to the 4-3 under Greg McMackin, effectively dropping a linebacker from the rotation.
"I'm just there with the next man," C.J. said. "I'm not having hard feelings against nobody -- we all going to get our opportunity to get out there and show what we can do."
Linebackers coach Cal Lee glowed about Allen-Jones' resilience.
"C.J.'s very talented. He's got speed and size," Lee said. "We need to get him on the field, either special teams or coming off the bench."
Despite his current status as a reserve, being in different situations -- such as having the frustrating injury -- and seeing multiple facets of the game has helped him grow as a player.
"I got wiser, I got smarter," C.J. said. "How to control my feet, how to play smart on the field. And I think that's to my advantage too ... I can play smart and play wiser out there on them young boys."
Cameron, an unproven entity as a walk-on, has undergone several transformations as well. After being primarily a defensive back in high school, he started spring camp by getting his feet wet on the Warriors' O-line. It was admittedly a struggle learning the blocking schemes.
"I still had that defensive mentality, didn't want to play O-line," Cameron said. "But, just being on it for a while, you get used to it, might as well, they ain't going to switch you over, you know?"
Well, it happened -- first to try his hand at running back in the spring, and now at tight end. Coach June Jones envisions him possibly filling the roll that Reagan Mauia had last year, something that got Cameron salivating.
"All those positions kind of do the same thing, they're blockers first," said Jones, who has rarely used a tight end in more than 20 years of coaching. "He's a good athlete, and got good feet."
It's now a matter of working on his alignment and ball-catching.
"Jones, he'll give the walk-on players a shot," Cameron said. "He's that type of dude, he cares for his players and stuff. Just try to get out there, making big plays."
If he's not careful, things could stay the same, for a change.