CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
David Veikune said he would argue with his father about working out, but would eventually do what he had planned that day.
Veikune’s workout ethic molded by his father
It's barely sunrise when a group of Hawaii football players walks into the weight room.
A couple of them rub their eyes as another lets out a giant yawn.
Still trying to shake the cobwebs from a good night's sleep, they are interrupted by the clanking sound of weights being dropped on the floor.
Before anybody else has picked up a thing, David Veikune has finished his first set for the day.
"I have a picture of him in my locker as inspiration," teammate Keala Watson said.
"I would say yes, he is (the weight-room king). He's kind of like a genetic freak. He'll pretty much out-lift anyone else on the team."
It's always been that way for the soon-to-be senior, who despite taking four summer school classes, still makes it to the weight room nearly every day.
The early morning workout isn't anything new for last year's first team, All-WAC defensive lineman.
Since as early as the fifth grade, Veikune has been put through vigorous weight-training routines by his father, Oma.
Oma had to be at his job as a postal worker every day by 7:30 in the morning. That meant the younger Veikune was up before sunrise, doing sit-ups, push-ups or whatever his father had planned for that day.
"We would always get into arguments," Veikune recalls. "But I would always end up doing it. He would tell me if I wanted to play football, I'd have to get up and work out, so I always did. That's when you know you want to play this game."
His passion for football was tested after spending his freshman year of college at Colorado. Buried on the depth chart at defensive end and unsure of where the program was headed, Veikune requested a release from his scholarship.
A year after stepping foot on the campus of a Big-12 program, Veikune was at Fresno City College and unsure if his playing days would continue.
"Going from Colorado to a (junior college) was the biggest obstacle of my life," Veikune said. "I didn't know what was going to happen. I wasn't even sure if I was ever going to play football again."
The time away from football made him realize his love for the sport and he started lifting weights again. On his own, he decided to call Hawaii assistant coach Rich Miano and let him know he wanted to be a Warrior.
A day later, he got the most important phone call of his life.
"(Miano) called me and said I had a scholarship," Veikune said. "I had to take 22 credits my second semester of JC to get myself to come here."
After playing mostly on special teams and sparingly off the bench as a sophomore, Veikune broke out as part of Hawaii's deep defensive line rotation last year. His seven sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss earned him those all-league honors, despite not playing every down.
That could change this season as the departures of Karl Noa and Amani Purcell could mean steady playing time for Veikune and John Fonoti.
"Coach Mack said he wants to keep me and John in the whole game unless some of the guys can step it up and rotate with us," Veikune said.
"Rotation is always the best so everyone can be fresh. Now I've got to make sure I'm in better shape than last year if I'm going to be in there the whole time."
Veikune played at 250 pounds a season ago and is trying to get to 270 by the start of camp. He says his bench press is up to 500 pounds, but his ability to keep his speed and agility while adding strength is what makes him such a dominating force.
"It's surprising he can keep his mobility with the strength he has," Watson said.
"He's probably one of our most versatile guys on the line. He can play defensive tackle, defensive end and he's even the nose guard in our 3-4 packages. He contributes everywhere coach asks him to."
Veikune says he's already learned a lot under new defensive line coach Dave Aranda, his fifth college position coach.
"I've gone through so many coaches in my career it's nothing different," Veikune said. "Him and (Jeff) Reinebold have different styles of coaching. Dave is more of a teacher. He's talked to some of the best coaches in the NFL and given us a lot of techniques. He's more of a teacher while Reinebold is more of a get in-your-face type."
The Campbell High graduate is anything but that. Soft-spoken, Veikune is generally the guy on the sidelines by himself before a game, focusing in his own way. While the rest of the team is yelling and screaming and pounding each other's pads, Veikune is already thinking about his first play of the game.
"I don't need to get all crazy to get into a game," Veikune said. "I don't want to gas myself out."
That's because he needs all the energy he can get. And that's why he's the first guy in the weight room every morning.