Satele and Gaison are the captains on this all-time UH team
Merry Christmas. Today, let's unwrap a gift. Today, I'm going to do something I've always wanted to do. Today, people are undoubtedly talking about this as UH's greatest team of all time. So let's flip it. It's perfect timing. Let's talk about the all-time team.
Did I blow it, leave out some guys? Of course. (Where's Skippy Dyer? Where are the linemen from the 1955 win at Nebraska and the Wonder Teams?) So add them in. This isn't to exclude anyone. This is a celebration. This is a gift.
This is to remind us that UH football isn't just to be celebrated now -- that it always has been.
Let's dive in:
Defensive line: Al Noga, Niko Noga, Levi Stanley, Travis LaBoy
Honorable mention: Maa Tanuvasa, Larry Cole, Cliff Laboy
Comment: Why isn't No. 54 retired? Stanley was unstoppable (11 tackles when UH won at Washington in 1973). LaBoy might be the most physically talented player on this list.
Linebackers: Mark Odom, Solomon Elimimian, David Maeva
Honorable mention: Randy Ingraham, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Alvis Satele, Adam Leonard, Bill Wise
Comment: It's projection that Elimimian will have a great senior year next season -- but he'll have been a four-year starter and a stud on the '06 and '07 teams.
The other two guys ... wow.
Cornerbacks: Jeris White, Dana McLemore
Honorable mention: Abraham Elimimian, Joe Kaulukukui, Walter Briggs
Comment: White, Hawaii's first modern All-American, still has high praise for his defensive coach, Larry Price. McLemore made big plays in some of the biggest games Hawaii had ever played.
Safeties: Rich Miano, Blane Gaison
Honorable mention: Anybody named Kafentzis
Comment: There have been a lot of "star" safeties since, but these guys are still the standard.
Punter: John Morse
Comment: Morse could really punt it in the days when they could really punt it. Pro Bowler Mat McBriar is incredible in the NFL, but was still learning the game as a collegian. Kurt Milne was also a very good college punter.
Punt returner: Chad Owens
Honorable mention: Dana McLemore, Bobby Ahu
Comment: No words left for what No. 2 could do.
Wide receivers: Ashley Lelie, Jason Rivers
Honorable mention: Walter Murray, Golden Richards
Comment: Lelie, though he worked his way up from awkward walk-on, had otherworldly talent. Rivers, on the other hand, willed himself to greatness with a ferocious, almost angry style of play. Both were biggest in the biggest games.
Slotbacks: Chad Owens, Dane McArthur
Honorable mention: Davone Bess, Ryan Grice-Mullins, Jeff Sydner
Comment: McArthur was toughness and talent -- a complete football player who could run, block and catch. Bess and Grice-Mullins are great players -- but they're not Owens, not yet. This season happened because Owens made plays that changed games in 2004.
Running backs: Gary Allen, Travis Sims
Honorable mention: Larry Sherrer, Nolle Smith, Pump Searle, Hiram Kaakua
Comment: Sims made the fullback dive a thing of beauty. Allen might still be the best offensive player Hawaii ever had; he's still the hero of any UH fan aged 35 to 45.
Offensive line: Samson Satele, Jim Kalili, Jesse Sapolu, Leo Goeas, Joe Onosai
Honorable mention: Amosa Amosa, Vince Manuwai, Hercules Satele, Kaulana Noa, Larry Jones
Comment: Probably the deepest, most talented position in UH history. You could probably add five more names, and maybe five more after that. Hercules Satele will go down in history as a first-team All-American -- and well deserved. But any of these other guys might have earned the same honor on a 12-0 team.
Tight end: Harry Kahuanui
Honorable mention: Ron Hall, McKinley Reynolds
Comment: "Clown" was the territory's heavyweight Golden Gloves champ and the man at UH in the late '40s.
Quarterback: Colt Brennan
Honorable mention: Garrett Gabriel, Michael Carter, Nick Rolovich
Comment: Beating BYU is the prerequisite for making it as an all-time UH QB -- but the only guy who didn't is the starter, hands down.
Kicker: Jason Elam
Comment: No second place (though current kicker Dan Kelly would deserve a mention at most any other school). Elam will be the first 'Bow in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and should get some consideration for the college hall, too.
Kick returner: Tommy Kaulukukui
Honorable mention: Chad Owens, Larry Khan-Smith
Comment: Hawaii's first All-American is still running in our dreams, even if we never saw that touchdown against UCLA.
Special teams: Murray Cassidy, Mike Akiu, Semeri Ulufale, Matt Harding, Guyton Galdeira
Comment: Love these guys. LOVE them. You do, too.
All-time team offensive captain: Samson Satele
All-time team defensive captain: Blane Gaison
All-time opponent: BYU