CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
David Farmer crashed through the line during practice as Hawaii continued to prepare for the Sugar Bowl. The team will leave for New Orleans on Christmas Day.
Putting the fan in fanatic
Last chance for autographs.
After today's 1-hour session at the University of Hawaii soccer practice field, the Warriors will be off-limits.
Well, that's the theory, anyway.
Signature and photo hounds have found creative ways to get to Colt Brennan and his fellow rock stars otherwise known as the UH football team. With closed practices, a few have infiltrated security. And even some of the guards themselves can't resist asking for personalized memorabilia.
"It's OK," Brennan said. "But it's just been crazy, and we can't get away from it."
Practices for the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl give them a break from the insanity.
Slotbacks Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullins stretched their legs some more yesterday. Bess is gradually coming back from a bruised shin.
"It went good," Bess said after taking a considerable number of reps with the first team.
Hawaii football players and coaches will sign autographs today in a final public appearance before leaving for the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
» When: Noon to 1 p.m.
» Where: UH soccer field
» Rules: No lining up before 10 a.m., holding places in line or chairs or coolers.
Only one item per person will be signed by Colt Brennan, and with his signature only. In order to sign as many autographs as possible, he will not pose for photos.
Punter Grasso had pain, gain
Sometimes even punters play with pain.
Hawaii junior Tim Grasso managed 40.2 yards per kick this year despite a torn hamstring. Thankfully for Grasso, the nation's highest scoring offense forced him into duty just 32 times.
The injury got better late in the season, but Grasso still has a black and blue mark on the back of his right leg and pain when he kicks.
"I think it's still bothering him a little bit," snapper Jake Ingram said. "He's got a big bruise on his leg, but he got the job done for us. I'm proud of him."
Grasso said he could only punt 10 times a day in practice the first month of the season (instead of his usual 40), when he had a 10-inch-long, 4-inch-wide bruise signifying a torn hamstring that a doctor said required at least four weeks off.
Grasso ignored the medical advice.
"I shouldn't have played on it," he said. "But I worked hard to be here, turned down scholarships to do so. This season is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I wasn't going to let a hamstring ruin it. It affected my season --the first part of the year I couldn't even touch my knee when I'm trying to touch my toes."
Grasso said one of the highlights of the season for him was halftime of the victory over UNLV, when he and three big-name teammates received medical treatment so they could return to the fray.
"Colt (Brennan) got hurt. Jason's (Rivers) back was bothering him and Davone (Bess) had something going on," he said. "We were all in with the hot packs doing physical therapy, and I thought, this is why I'm here. I was in there with the superstars. Even they suck it up and play hurt."
Grasso is expected to receive a scholarship in the fall. He will return home to Kaysville, Utah, for the spring semester and finally give the hamstring adequate rest.
Finding a role
Warriors defensive lineman Joshua Leonard arrived at Manoa this year after dominating in the junior college ranks. When he didn't crack the UH starting lineup, he kept quiet but burned inside.
"When I came here I obviously wanted to play. The first couple of games I didn't see as much play time as I'd like," Leonard said. "Then the coaches saw the versatility that I had and started using me in pass rush situations, in the nick' package and the Okie packages."
He made several big plays toward the end of the season, including recovering a fumble caused by John Fonoti to clinch UH's victory over Boise State on Nov. 23. It was one of a team-high three fumble recoveries. He also blocked a field-goal try in the third quarter of the Dec. 1 win against Washington.
A defensive end at Sacramento City College, Leonard has adapted to the middle of the line.
"Pretty much locked in at tackle now. You get more contact, which I like," he said.
Spirit of the season
Inoke Funaki's socks are interesting even under normal circumstances. He wears the old-school striped kind.
"Nobody buys 'em except for me," he said.
Yesterday the sophomore backup quarterback added a holiday touch -- he sported calf socks with green stripes over knee-highs with red stripes.
"The Christmas Spirit," Funaki said.
Or the Krisha Spirit. The high socks were a gift from former UH soccer player Krisha Kai, Funaki's classmate at Kahuku.