SB FILE / NOVEMBER 2006
Hawaii linebacker Micah Lau (26) was in on this sack of San Jose State quarterback Adam Tafralis last season.
Lau makes sacrifice for team
Sometimes, taking a step back on the field allows two steps forward off of it.
For Hawaii senior linebacker Micah Lau, embracing a lesser role on the No. 11 Warriors this season was part of a five-year process that culminates at Aloha Stadium on Saturday.
Lau is among, at last count, 22 Warriors who will take their Senior Walk after their last official home game. Fourteen-point favorite UH (11-0) hosts Washington (4-8) before a sellout crowd.
Lau, a starter in the last nine games for 11-3 Hawaii a year ago, humbly accepted a special teams and backup niche this season. When UH switched to a 4-3 defense, it made a deep unit even harder to break into for playing time, with Adam Leonard, Solomon Elimimian, Brad Kalilimoku and Blaze Soares locking up jobs.
What's been remarkable to the coaching staff is Lau's workmanlike attitude throughout the whole process as his college career winds to a close.
"Every player's role is important, and Micah's done a great job on special teams for us this year -- that's what his role has been," coach June Jones said. "He gave us everything he had -- he's been positive."
Linebackers coach Cal Lee called Lau's consistent enthusiasm "heartwarming."
"I couldn't ask for a better person as far as attitude, being where he was and where he's at right now," Lee said. "He's grasped the idea that the biggest concern for him is us winning, no matter what part he plays. He's doing special teams very well, but (is) very supportive to all the other linebackers who are playing in front of him."
The 5-foot-9, 211-pound Kamehameha graduate walked on in 2003 and was awarded a scholarship after his second year. When he looks back at his journey over the past half-decade, Lau just shakes his head at what the team has accomplished this year: an 11-0 record and an outright Western Athletic Conference championship. And he marvels at the potential success to come.
"Oh yeah, I will never forget what happened in Hawaii, playing for the University of Hawaii," Lau said. "I could never forget the guys, and five years over here is a long time and knowing these guys. I could never forget this experience."
The coaches' request for him to accept less playing time never became an issue, even before the team's unprecedented success. Of course, that helped, too.
"Well, from playing a lot last year, it's hard to switch (roles), but I'm happy to because this is where, as a team, you rather have a team championship than have individual recognition," Lau said. "It feels way better now than when I played last year, a lot. Just to have any contribution to the team, even if it's just on special teams, it's better than nothing. And the feeling of being a champion is way better than starting."
A Warriors win Saturday likely means an appearance in a BCS bowl game on the mainland, as opposed to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and the prospect of one more game at home. That, at least, is bittersweet for him.
"It's pretty exciting and somewhat sad at the same time because we've been here for so long and we got to play in front of our crowd for five years," said Lau, who also played at Aloha Stadium for his previous Warriors in high school.
"Just knowing that it might be our last time playing in front of our families. It's kind of sad because it might be our last time suiting up in Hawaii."