Farmer’s forte is blocking
David Farmer's particular skill set won't get him on the highlight tape very often.
But it could make him the first running back to take the field when Hawaii opens the season a week from tomorrow.
The junior's consistency, understanding of his assignments and willingness to throw his body in front of charging defensive ends have put him in a mix of three backs expected to share time this season.
Most of the preseason buzz has centered on the potential of freshman Kealoha Pilares and sophomore transfer Leon Wright-Jackson, both blessed with speed and elusiveness. Meanwhile, Farmer remains a valuable, if unheralded, part of the rotation by constantly looking for contact.
"It's kind of become my niche, my role on the team," Farmer said of serving as quarterback Colt Brennan's personal bodyguard.
"If I want to get on the field, it's not going to be running 60-yard touchdowns. If it takes blocking a 300-pound D-end, then that's what I'll do. I'll take him head up. I don't know if I'll always win, but I know I'll go 100 percent, and usually when you do that good things happen."
UH coach June Jones said all three will likely rotate, and whoever is first on the field will depend on his game plan.
While Pilares and Wright-Jackson provide big-play potential, Farmer's familiarity with the system and experience working in concert with the offensive line in pass protection give Brennan an added sense of security.
"Farmer's the type of guy who's always ready to play, he always knows what to do. ... He's just a great dependable guy to have in the backfield," Brennan said.
"You have to expect there's going to be some learning curve for both Kealoha and Leon, and Farmer's not going to have any learning curve. You're probably going to see Farmer play a lot, especially early in the season."
Farmer -- whose father, Dave, played at USC and was Jones' teammate with the Atlanta Falcons in the late '70s -- played fullback at Aptos (Calif.) High School and could have accepted academic scholarships to several schools. Instead, he chose to walk on at Hawaii.
"Thank God I took that risk," he said. "I never would have expected to accomplish as much as I have here. I'm a better person for it and I never would have known if I hadn't taken the risk."
Since redshirting in 2004, Farmer has played in 24 games, starting two as a freshman.
Farmer has carried the ball 19 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns in his career. But he's not the type to brood over not getting more touches, and adulation isn't one of his motivations.
"What kind of person would I be if I didn't give it 100 percent ... and was going through the motions," he said. "I don't want to let my teammates down. I'm part of something great now, and for me to not take full advantage of it and do everything I possibly could would just be a travesty on my part.
"I don't see any difference in running the ball or throwing a block, scoring a touchdown or laying someone out. It's the sacrifices all 11 people on the field make at the same time."
Farmer could fill a similar role on special teams as the middle of the wedge on kickoff returns, running headlong into the coverage team to help clear the way for the returners behind him.
"That's something I have to psyche myself up for, but I'm going to do it," he said. "I'm not going to say no."