CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Cornerback Calvin Roberts, right, defended against receiver Joe Avery while working with the first-team defense yesterday in practice.
Cornerback Roberts runs with Warriors’ first squad
A three-way battle continues at Hawaii spring football practice for the starting job at right cornerback.
Junior JoPierre Davis entered camp atop the list, and hasn't done anything to lose his spot. But seniors Jameel Dowling and Calvin Roberts are working hard to try to wrest it away.
After an excellent first two weeks of practice mostly with the second string, Roberts got a chance with the first team yesterday.
"We wanted to reward him because he's been so consistent," defensive backs coach Rich Miano said. "But it easily could've been Jameel in there. Those three are very close right now."
Senior Ryan Mouton has the left cornerback spot locked up, but the runner-up on the other side could get the fifth DB job Mouton held last season; that player sees extensive action in pass defense packages.
Mouton and Roberts arrived as much ballyhooed JC transfers last fall, and many expected them to displace the starting corners, Myron Newberry and Gerard Lewis. That didn't happen, and Roberts spent the season watching and learning.
"It was a little like deja vu from my freshman year (at College of San Mateo). I only played in a couple of games and had to wait my turn," Roberts said. "I worked hard in the offseason and did the same this year. I talk to my old coaches, and they say stick to hard work and fundamentals. Fundamentals will take you up."
He's No. 1
Sophomore wide receiver Greg Salas
has always been the look-at-me type. Just ask his childhood buddy from Chino, Calif., Warriors sophomore guard Joey Lipp
"I've known him since second grade, and he's exactly the same now as he was then. Loud and obnoxious, but everybody loves him," Lipp said. "No one takes him seriously. It's all in good fun."
Salas' personality was somewhat tempered his first two years because he was a backup to the best collection of receivers in the school's history. But he made a statement this offseason in claiming uniform No. 1 when it was made available by the departure of slotback Ryan Grice-Mullins.
"I want to have that attitude, that I'm No. 1," Salas said.
Grice-Mullins was on hand yesterday to see his numbersake make a fine play. Salas grabbed a long pass from Inoke Funaki, sprinted into the end zone and dunked the ball over the 10-foot-high goal-post crossbar.
"Not bad," said Grice-Mullins, who was timed at 4.33 seconds in the 40 two weeks ago. "But it took him long enough to get downfield to catch the ball."
"I was so open I had to slow up for the ball," he said.
Salas dunked a practice TD two years ago as a true freshman on the scout team.
"I heard Coach (defensive coordinator Jerry) Glanville liked it," Salas said. "He played it over and over in the defense meeting."
Offensive coordinator Ron Lee said there will be more fun when the 6-foot-2, 195-pound sophomore develops consistency.
"Greg Salas has a chance to be really special," Lee said. "He's tall, he can jump, he can run and he has good hands. He has all the attributes. He needs to put in a big effort. He's working hard, but he can work harder."
Serendipity occurred for safety Mana Silva
. The transfer from Oregon State worked extensively with the first team yesterday, and it just so happened that visitors from off-island had come to watch -- his high school coaches from Kamehameha on the Big Island.
"That was pretty cool, but believe me, it wasn't planned," Miano said. "Mana moved up to the first group today because he could be the starter when the season starts."
That's a long way off, and Erik Robinson, Le'Marcus Gibson and Viliami Nauahi will be off the injured list to compete in the fall. So will Dane Kealoha Porlas, who was in the mix this spring until spraining his right ankle while running stairs Tuesday. He could miss the rest of spring camp.
Returning starters Desmond Thomas and Keao Monteilh are also rounding into form, and Spencer Smith had a good scrimmage last Saturday.
Another safety, Josh Aufai, is day-to-day (hamstring strain).
Lipp got extensive action in yesterday's team session at left guard. "I'm starting to get confidence anywhere inside, guard or center," the 6-3, 275-pound sophomore said. ... Leon Wright-Jackson
made a great lateral move at the line of scrimmage to find a hole and burst for a good gain during team session. ... The Hawaii Speed and Quickness clinic resumes this weekend, 8 to 10 a.m. at UH. Call 739-5444 for information.