FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii receiver Mike Tinoco is working hard to get to know his new teammates during informal drills this summer.
New receivers getting up to speed
Another good-hands guy
Mike Tinoco knows he still has a lot to learn, despite his experience in a four-receiver offensive system.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior receiver out of Saddleback College (Mission Viejo, Calif.) was one of about 25 Hawaii football players participating in drills during an unsupervised practice yesterday on campus. He and Craig Bell (6-1,185), two of the Warriors' five incoming receivers, followed the lead of their new teammates.
More than half of the Hawaii receivers were present, with seven quarterbacks (including JC newcomers Greg Alexander and Brent Rausch) alternately firing passes. Returning signal-callers Inoke Funaki, Tyler Graunke, Shane Austin, Jake Santos and Bryce Kalauokaaea all helped run the show.
While some of the terminology and specific play calls were still foreign to him, Tinoco compared the Warriors' run-and-shoot offense favorably to the four-wide system used at Saddleback (the same college departed quarterback Colt Brennan played at before enrolling at Hawaii).
"I'm kind of used to that offensive style," he said. "It's just different route-running. At JC, if you had a route, that's all you could do. There was a couple times you would switch it up, but here, you got options all over the place. It's good -- it really makes you read the defense. (Improvisation) is good, I like that."
He caught 32 passes for 500 yards and three TDs as a second-team All-Mission Conference National Division player there.
Tinoco got in on a lot of the action in the first half of the 2-hour session, then kept a careful eye on his teammates for much of the second hour.
"I can pick stuff up pretty quick. I like to study it and make sure I know what I'm doing out there," Tinoco said. "That's my goal -- I'm hoping to learn it in the next month. I know it'll be tough, but I'm going to try to really work hard at it so I can be good to (the point) where the quarterback calls the play, and I know what to do."
Of course, it's not easy being one of the select few newcomers in a group of over two-dozen players familiar with each other. Tinoco was still working on remembering names.
Funaki, a junior who was named co-No. 1 quarterback with Graunke in spring ball, sensed Tinoco and Bell become tentative as more players arrived.
"I know how it can be when you come out and you don't really know anybody," Funaki said. "I was like, 'Guys, get up, run around,' you know? Sometimes you need someone like that, because they kind of feel like the outcasts. They don't really know everybody like the rest of us who know each other well."
Tinoco mentioned Funaki and fellow receivers Royce Pollard and Joe Avery as the most helpful in the early stages of summer.
Hearing that, Funaki grinned.
"When I first came, it wasn't so easy either, all the adjustments and everything," he said. "I know that their head is swimming right now. Baby steps, you know? Milk first before you eat. I know they have the willingness to learn. I see them watching film and stuff."