CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
UH's June Jones was named yesterday as one of seven finalists for the Paul "Bear" Bryant College Coach of the Year award.
Kepo'o recovers in time for Sugar Bowl trip
Kiran Kepo'o won't have a tangible impact on the Allstate Sugar Bowl's outcome, but the fact that the redshirt freshman quarterback is on the Hawaii travel roster of 114 players says a lot.
So does the following sentence, uttered by Kepo'o last night:
"I'm doing fine."
On Sept. 18, Kepo'o was in a bicycle accident on lower campus and ended up with serious head trauma and requiring surgery for a fractured cheek.
Kepo'o has recovered enough to probably start running this week. His goal is to return to active duty with the team in time for spring practice.
"That's what I'm hoping," he said.
Kepo'o, an honors student who plans on attending medical school someday, missed three weeks of school due to the accident and later complications.
"It took me a while to get back to normal at school because of the trauma to my head," Kepo'o said. "At first I had a tough time focusing and my vision was blurry at first. It was very hard to see at lectures."
He returned to the quarterback position meetings eventually, but last month he got sick with sinus headaches and congestion and focused strictly on school.
"I tried to get back into the (football) flow," he said. "But when I got sick I missed a week and a half and haven't been down there recently. I know they're busy."
He was well enough to watch the Washington game Dec. 1 with teammates in the Aloha Stadium stands.
Kepo'o, who served on the scout team before the accident, found out earlier this week that he is on the travel roster for New Orleans.
"It's really exciting," he said. "I was happy for how this team has done so far. Even though I haven't been there, I've been with them spiritually and watched the games on TV when I could."
Pro style D
When June Jones
looks at the Georgia Bulldogs defense, he sees a whole different level.
"They look like the Baltimore Ravens," the Hawaii coach said after watching tape of UH's Sugar Bowl opponent. "They've got a whole bunch of guys and they're good at everything. Every one of those guys looks like he will play in the NFL."
The No. 4 Bulldogs (10-2) piled up 25 sacks in their last six games (34 total), and a major key for the 10th-ranked Warriors (12-0) will be if the offensive line can give quarterback Colt Brennan enough time to throw.
Marcus Howard, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior end, led the Dawgs with 7.5 sacks. Sophomore tackle Geno Atkins (6-1, 275) provides the inside pressure with 6.5, and junior linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (6-1, 232) and junior end Jeremy Lomax (6-4, 233) have 4.5 apiece.
Jones is among seven finalists up for the 2007 Paul "Bear" Bryant College Coach of the Year award.
The others are Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech; Sylvester Croom, Mississippi State; Mark Mangino, Kansas; Les Miles, LSU; Gary Pinkel, Missouri; and Ron Zook, Illinois.
"It is truly an honor to be recognized amongst the top coaches in the country," Jones said. "I was lucky to grow up during that era. Bear was not only a legend, but a real man."
The winner will be voted on by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and named live at an awards dinner benefiting the American Heart Association on Jan. 17 in Houston.
Jones was asked if he expects any problems with players being ineligible for the bowl game due to academic problems in the fall.
"We're OK," he answered.
The Warriors return to practice today, but the workouts before the team leaves for New Orleans are closed to the public.
As of last night, UH was still trying to organize an event where fans could get a final chance to get autographs from and take pictures with Brennan and other Hawaii seniors.