CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Malcolm Lane held onto the ball despite being tackled by Le'Marcus Gibson recently.
On the fast Lane to playing time
UH receiver Malcolm Lane is making his move
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Members of the Hawaii football team will start setting their alarms a little bit earlier this week.
With the end of fall camp and the start of classes on the Manoa campus, the 23rd-ranked Warriors' practice schedule shifts to 7-9 a.m., starting today. The team had been reporting for 8:30 workouts most of the previous two weeks.
The remaining practices leading up to the Sept. 1 season opener against Northern Colorado will determine several position battles, including at right wide receiver where Malcolm Lane has been backing up senior C.J. Hawthorne.
Lane, a speedy sophomore, gained experience in limited playing time as a freshman and returned with greater confidence and understanding of his role in the Warriors' run-and-shoot offense.
"I went home and worked hard on all the little things and just worked on getting my plays down," said Lane, who has been bothered by a dislocated finger recently.
Lane is part of a deep and talented group of Warrior receivers led by three returning starters. But there's been little venom in the competition for playing time.
"They're a great bunch of guys who are pulling for each other and want to see each other do well," receivers coach Ron Lee said. "That makes it so much fun."
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COMING from the other side of the globe, Malcolm Lane brought ample portions of size and speed with him to Hawaii a year ago. But the freshman arrived on campus a tad short in a key ingredient.
"Last year coming out on the field as a little kid from Germany, I was scared of everybody, scared of competition," Lane recalled of his first year as a receiver with the Warrior football team.
"Now I'm just out there and it's like I'm not scared of anybody. I feel like I can beat any DB they put in front of me. ... I'm more focused and the confidence is there."
Though a bit timid at first, Lane found himself playing in 11 games as a freshman. Now a year of experience has Lane playing with more swagger and in contention for even more playing time in his sophomore season.
Lane has been backing up senior C.J. Hawthorne at a wide receiver spot in fall camp and continues to work on consistency as he becomes more familiar with the Warriors' run-and-shoot offense with the Sept. 1 season opener less than two weeks away.
"I know I'm behind C.J. right now, but the main thing I want to do is just keep pushing him," Lane said after the team's practice at Aloha Stadium on Saturday. "It's not a fight between us or anything like that, it's both of us going out there and competing and making each other better every day."
Lane has been bothered by a dislocated finger in recent practices and although Hawthorne has been running with the first unit throughout camp, the coaches aren't ready to declare the matter resolved. When game time arrives, both Hawthorne and Lane could split time in an arrangement similar to last year when Ross Dickerson and Ian Sample shared duties for much of the season.
"That's a strong possibility and the next two weeks are going to be a key," UH receivers coach Ron Lee said. "(Dickerson and Sample) shuffled in and they weren't as beat up and toward the end of the season both of them were playing very fast."
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Malcolm Lane is more confident and mature this season, according to assistant coach Ron Lee.
In his relatively brief tenure with the Warriors, Lane has come a long way, both in terms of distance and aptitude in the UH scheme.
Born in North Carolina and raised in Florida, Lane spent most of his high school years in Germany. He graduated from Hanau American High School, where he lettered in football and basketball, last summer and credits UH assistant Jeff Reinebold with tracking him down and giving him the opportunity to play Division I football.
Lane's speed and 6-foot-1, 181-pound build no doubt were selling points for the UH coaches, who took to teaching him the basics when he joined the program.
"Last year he didn't know where to line up," UH receivers coach Ron Lee said.
"Physically, he's a specimen, a tremendous athlete, but he was learning the system. Now he's so far away from where he was last year. ... He's ahead of schedule and he has a couple of weeks to tighten things up and get ready for the season."
Though Lane was relatively raw, the staff elected not to redshirt him last season. Instead, he found himself playing in all but three games, catching three passes for 120 yards, highlighted by a 58-yard completion against Eastern Illinois. He also averaged 14.5 yards on six kickoff returns, a role that could expand this season.
When Lane returned for camp, Lee noted the jump in maturity and confidence in the sophomore's demeanor -- both of which have translated onto the field.
"I think as a person he's grown up," Lee said. "It was a long way from home for him, coming from Germany, he's a young guy. He's a whole different person this season. I'm proud of him. I give him a lot of credit.
"He's gained a lot of confidence, and it's making him faster on the field in running his routes and catching the ball correctly."