CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
This is Brashton Satele's fourth season in the Warrior program. He says he's prepared to make an impact this year.
Ready to run with the big dogs
Brashton Satele's drive to improve should put him on the field more often
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In one sense, Brashton Satele had come full circle.
In another, little had changed in four years.
It wasn't so long ago that Satele was among the eager youngsters participating in the Game Plan Hawaii Football Academy. He returned to the camp at Aloha Stadium last week, this time as a counselor passing along tips on playing linebacker and insight on the path to college ball.
"When I was in camp, I was always trying to impress the coaches, trying to get looks and get opportunities to play football -- and I got it from UH," Satele said.
Now heading toward his junior season with the Warriors, earning a shot to play fuels a workout regimen that'll keep him busy leading up to fall camp. Limited by injuries early in his career, Satele is coming off a strong spring and hopes for a breakout season this fall as part of a deep group of UH linebackers.
Satele comes from a line of UH athletes, as his father, Alvis, played linebacker in the 1980s, and his mother, LeeAnn (Pestana), won two national titles with the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team. With the close-knit family forming his foundation, Brashton plans to take a rare break from his summer training today -- after all, it's mom's birthday.
"(Family) means everything to me," he said. "I'd be lost without her."
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Drivers turning a particular corner in Mililani could find a snarling linebacker hot on their tailpipe.
No doubt a startling sight for the unsuspecting, but no real reason for alarm. It's just Brashton Satele getting ready for the season.
"I just race them like I'm chasing a running back or receiver," said the Hawaii junior, who's sprinted after cars passing through his neighborhood since high school as part of his speed training.
So what reaction does he get from those he pursues?
"They look at me kind of weird sometimes," he said. "Some of them do (get scared). That's good, though. When they push on the gas, that's better for me."
Satele's two-legged version of street racing represents just a portion of an offseason regimen that squeezes workouts into most every hole in his schedule.
His days this summer often begin with a lifting session on the UH campus at 6:30 a.m., followed by running with his Warriors teammates. Three afternoons a week are devoted to 7-on-7 drills.
When that's done, he'll often take his work home. He might go for a mile run, turn the living room into a personal exercise center, or chase passing motorists in a 30-yard sprint up the incline fronting his family's house.
"He cannot keep still," said his mother, LeeAnn Satele. "From the time he gets up in the morning, he's working out. Before he goes to sleep at night, he's running or jumping rope or doing something."
Entering his fourth year in the UH program, Satele has no shortage of fuel for his 'round-the-clock routine.
For one, there's the ticking of his collegiate clock. Since coming out of Word of Life in 2005, Satele redshirted his first year and contributed primarily on special teams the past two seasons, his progress at linebacker hampered by a string of nagging injuries.
He registered five tackles in 12 games last fall while nursing hamstring and shoulder ailments, but enjoyed a healthy run at spring drills while backing up Solomon Elimimian at inside linebacker. He's also picking up tips on playing the outside spots this summer in hopes that his versatility will lead to a more prominent role in a deep linebacker corps come fall.
"I've been waiting -- hopefully this is my time to get out there and make some plays in front of the fans," he said.
"Two more years, I have to show what I've got. ... That's why I keep busting my butt every morning.
STAR-BULLETIN / 2007
Satele was in on five tackles last seaon.
Satele's drive in his offseason conditioning impressed first-year head coach Greg McMackin, who took note of his efforts in the period bridging the Warriors' Sugar Bowl appearance and the start of spring practice.
"I saw him just work out constantly," McMackin said. "He worked to get faster, he worked to get stronger, he worked to improve his body. This is something that's important to him.
"I think (UH defensive coordinator/linebackers coach) Cal Lee has done a great job of coaching him and having him grow as a linebacker. ... He's one of our top linebackers right now, so we have to get him on the playing field."
Thoughts of the Warriors' season-opening meeting with Florida also bounce Satele out of bed each morning. The Gators are, after all, the nation's top-ranked team -- according to several preseason publications -- led by Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.
Though the afternoon of Aug. 30 in the sweltering Swamp remains nearly two months off, "it's a couple days away to me," Satele said.
"I just feel like it's coming up really fast. When you think you can't run any more, you have to push through. You want to be dying in workouts, not during the game.
"Every morning I think, 'What are Tebow and the Gators doing?' It wakes me up every day, just keeps me pushing."
Over his first three years at UH, Satele has had to push through numerous physical aches and the accompanying frustration. But he has ready resources in dealing with the ups and downs of college athletics. His parents each carved out a successful career in Manoa. His dad, Alvis Satele, was a standout linebacker in the 1980s. LeeAnn, then Pestana, won two national championships with the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team.
"We want him to create his own identity and he is," LeeAnn Satele said. "He takes on a lot of traits of his dad, real friendly, a people person, works hard. He really respects his dad and what he has done there. But at the same time his dad pushes him to create his own identity."
Just another goal to chase.