HAWAII GROWN REPORT
Aiea graduate Brandon Rodd has found a home at Arizona State after completing his undergraduate program in May.
Rodd is solid for hot Sun Devils
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As a senior at Aiea High School, Brandon Rodd knew if he wanted to play football in college, it would have to be on the mainland.
"There was no question in (my mother's) mind that she wouldn't let me stay home," Rodd said.
He did know he wanted to go somewhere he could wear shorts and slippers every day. It left him without many choices, but eventually he found a home at Arizona State, a good place to be these days.
The Sun Devils have taken the Pac-10 by surprise by winning their first five games of the season.
Rodd has started every game at left tackle and was joined in the lineup by Farrington graduate Shawn Lauvao, who made his first start last weekend next to Rodd at left guard.
Together, the Polynesian tandem is just one of many local duos making waves in the Pac-10. As the Sun Devils prepare for a brutal late-season schedule that includes three teams ranked in the top 15, they will need Rodd and Lauvao to anchor the right side of the line and protect the blind side of Heisman Trophy candidate Rudy Carpenter.
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Brandon Rodd has a lot of things to feel good about these days.
He's the starting left tackle for an undefeated Arizona State team ranked 18th in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
He also already earned his undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies in May.
But the best part about Rodd's life is that the '03 Aiea graduate doesn't wake up to that irritating noise created by his alarm clock every morning anymore.
"The earliest I wake up is 10:30 or 11 in the morning," Rodd said. "It's pretty tight."
Rodd takes two music classes and a masters class, but it's nothing compared to the undergraduate workload he had in previous years.
The extra time has allowed him to focus on football, where the Sun Devils are making noise in the Pac-10 conference as a team nobody is talking about, but everyone should be worried about.
"Everything has just come together for us," Rodd said. "It helps that we're a senior-heavy team."
The Sun Devils look nothing like the team that got thumped in last year's Hawaii Bowl by the Warriors.
Since then, they have replaced coach Dirk Koetter with Dennis Erickson, who won two national titles with Miami more than a decade ago.
Erickson brings a more professionalized approach to a team that at times last season, was in desperate need of a chance of pace.
"It just wasn't very player-friendly," Rodd said.
The big difference has been in the second half, where the Sun Devils have outscored their five opponents this season by a combined score of 85-16.
It's a stark contrast to a year ago, when the Sun Devils were continuously dominated after halftime. Hawaii scored 38 of its 41 points against ASU in the second half.
"I would say that we are more healthy going into games," Rodd said. "Last year going to practice every day was grind. By the time Saturday rolled around, we were tired."
Rodd has been a steady fixture at left tackle, starting 27 games in the last three years since tearing his ACL in the season opener in 2004.
Brandon Rodd, a 2003 graduate of Aiea, earned his undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies in May. He uses his extra time for improving his performance for 18th-ranked Arizona State.
Last week against Stanford, he was joined on the line by sophomore Shawn Lauvao (Farrington '05), who made the first start of his career next to Rodd at the guard spot.
The two have been friends ever since Rodd hosted Lauvao on his recruiting trip to ASU.
"Me and Shawn have that special connection," Rodd said. "We both played pretty damn good in his first start next to each other."
That connection was evident in practice on Tuesday. On a play during drills, both Rodd and Lauvao kicked out for a double block on a linebacker. They each knew the other wanted to make the block, so they both went after the linebacker at the same time.
Both of them whiffed completely.
"It's just so funny because we're always exactly on the same page," Lauvao said.
At 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds, Lauvao is a gem in the making for Arizona State. Preseason all-conference nominee Robert Gustavis had started 17 consecutive games at that spot, but Lauvao has been too good to keep on the bench.
"You have no idea," Rodd said. "He's a beast. He's one of the best players we have."
Rodd and Lauvao are just one of many combos of Hawaii kids starting in the trenches in the Pac-10.
California, Oregon and Washington all boast at least two players with local ties starting on either the offensive or defensive lines.
"Right after my recruiting class it got ridiculous," Lauvao said. "The talent was always there. I think Hawaii just got overlooked because it's so far away."
"We're just big boys that can move," Rodd added. "We don't have that sloppy fat. We're big and athletic."
Ian Scheuring (Radford '06) is another talented offensive lineman in the making for the Sun Devils.
It has been a great start to the season, but things will get very tough down the stretch. The Sun Devils have back-to-back games against the Washington schools before beginning a stretch in which they play third-ranked California, No. 14 Oregon, UCLA and No. 2 USC.
"In football you have to have a short-term memory because every week is a new deal," Lauvao said. "We're playing more as a team now, so we're ready."