CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii safety Desmond Thomas, left, tackled Dylan Linkner during yesterday's practice. Thomas will start in place of injured starter Keao Monteilh on Saturday when Fresno State comes to town.
Bess out for revenge
When Davone Bess was a football star at Skyline High School in Oakland, Calif., he thought about becoming part of a long line of players from his school who went on to become Fresno State Bulldogs.
Bess was never offered a scholarship to FSU, and that was that.
Or was it?
Bess has a long memory. The Hawaii junior slotback is not a bitter person, but he knows how to turn perceived disrespect into energy and motivation on the football field -- and Bess seems to be building himself toward a controlled rage as UH (8-0, 5-0 WAC) prepares to host Fresno State (6-3, 5-1) at Aloha Stadium on Saturday.
"I wouldn't say they recruited me. I got a letter showing interest, but they never pulled the trigger. That's pretty much it," Bess said, the usual smile gone from his face.
"My school has a history of sending players to Fresno State. I wasn't fortunate enough," the smile returning, but, for now, it is sarcastic. "I wasn't as gifted as those guys. It definitely motivates me. I'm going to go into this with a chip on my shoulder, Ready to play, ready to fight, not literally fight, just compete."
Bess -- who makes the UH career touchdown record his own with one score Saturday -- has done better than compete in his two games against the Bulldogs.
He has dominated.
In 2005, Bess caught a school-record 14 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown in UH's 27-13 loss. Last year at Fresno, he grabbed eight passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns, part of the carnage as the Warriors strutted out of Bulldogs Stadium after a 68-37 romp.
Bess said the home loss two years ago is a rallying point. But the nastiest memory to erase comes from 2004, when he wasn't even officially a Warrior yet.
"We definitely want to take (the 2005 loss) into consideration," Bess said. "But we also want to look at what they did to us three years ago in 2004 when we were in Fresno."
Fresno State ran all over Hawaii in a 70-14 rout. Bess watched as a spectator.
"It was a pretty bad show that day. It was ugly. I was this close to de-committing," Bess said.
This time, the smile means he is joking.
"I'm just playing," he said. "I was already part of the Warrior family."
There's been plenty of speculation lately about whether Bess will remain at UH next year for his senior season or make himself available to the NFL Draft.
"I've been getting a lot of calls from people, but I'm trying to just think about this season for now," the two-time first team All-WAC receiver said.
Bess is well on his way to a third 1,000-yard receiving season; he has 60 catches for 748 yards and nine touchdowns.
C.J. Allen-Jones ran with the first team defense at outside linebacker yesterday, but defensive coordinator Greg McMackin said starters Adam Leonard and Blaze Soares will "absolutely" be ready to play Saturday.
Leonard had a sore quad, coach June Jones said, and Soares (plagued by hamstring and shoulder ailments this season) a minor "tweak" according to McMackin.
Smith in the mix
Second-year freshman Spencer Smith has moved up from the scout team and is getting some serious practice time with the injury to starting free safety Keao Monteilh.
"It feels good. I wasn't getting too many reps from the start of camp and last spring. It's been a long season, but I just tried to keep working hard. Hard work pays off."
Smith was on the travel squad as a true freshman last year, and nearly played on several occassions. But he never did get into a game and redshirted.
He was recruited from Kell High School in Marietta, Ga., by former UH defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville. Glanville left Hawaii after last season to be head coach at Portland State.
"I didn't have any thoughts of leaving," Smith said. "I made such good friends out here and I respect all the other coaches too."
Smith, listed at 5-11 and 195, has played in five games this season, mostly on special teams, and made four tackles.
Desmond Thomas replaces Monteilh in the starting lineup, with Dane Kealoha Porlas and Erik Robinson also receiving more practice reps.
June Jones is on the watch list for the Bear Bryant College Football Coach of the Year Award, sponsored by the American Heart Association and administered by the Nationals Sportscasters & Sportswriters Association.
Here's the rest of the list:
Mike Bellotti, Oregon; Rich Brooks, Kentucky; Lloyd Carr, Michigan; Randy Edsall, UConn; Dennis Erickson, Arizona State; Jeff Jagodzinski, Boston College; Mark Mangino, Kansas; Les Miles, LSU; Chris Petersen, Boise State; Gary Pinkel, Missouri; Mark Richt, Georgia; Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia; Nick Saban, Alabama; Bob Stoops, Oklahoma; Jim Tressel, Ohio State.
Finalists will be announced Dec. 12 and the winner Jan. 17.