Young players get valuable tips at UH football camps
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Before heading off to compete for NFL jobs, Davone Bess and Leonard Peters returned to the Hawaii practice fields to help some of the island's youngsters hoping to someday reach the college level.
Bess and Peters were among the Warriors alumni working at the Hawaii Football Skills Camp yesterday with Bess closing the session with a talk stressing the importance of education.
"It just feels good to give back," Bess said. "I love to come back and show my support for these kids."
Bess returns to Miami next week for training camp with the Dolphins. He took part in minicamps and voluntary workouts with the Dolphins, who already have fellow UH products Samson Satele and Reagan Mauia on the roster.
"I think (the workouts) helped a lot in giving me my confidence to go into training camp ready to play," said Bess, who signed with the Dolphins as a free agent. "I'm pretty comfortable with the offense and knowing what's at stake.
"Reagan and Sam are well respected on the team, so for them to take me in as a little brother I'm happy about that and just can't wait to get out there and get things rolling."
Peters departs for the Chicago Bears training camp on Sunday after spending the week working with the youngsters.
"It's great to see the kids. There's so much talent here and coming here and showing what they can do," Peters said. "They get to compete against the best on the island."
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The on-field tips at this week's Hawaii Football Skills Camp figure to come in handy as the teens in attendance prepare for the coming season.
The classroom sessions may prove even more valuable for those pursuing college careers.
Along with imparting football knowledge to the youngsters, the UH coaches and former players running the clinics have drilled the importance of education into the participants during the four-day camp.
"Whatever you do, give 100 percent effort, on and off the field," former UH slotback Davone Bess said in summing up his address to the campers to close yesterday's session. "Without grades, there's no college, there's no football, there's none of that. That was the No. 1 thing I was stressing to them."
The skills camp concludes today and UH's trio of summer clinics continues Monday with the start of the three-day Big Man Camp for offensive and defensive linemen.
The kids camp drew about 500 youngsters last weekend and about 350 have attended this week's skills camp, bringing organizers within sight of their goal of 1,000 total participants as they couple football with education.
"We want to get these kids when they're in the fifth and sixth grade and talking about academics and staying in school and being around good people," UH associate coach Rich Miano said.
"By the time you're a (high school) sophomore it's too late with the core requirements you have to pass. If you do bad your freshman and sophomore years, you're not going to a Division I college. You have to get these kids in intermediate school to realize the importance of their freshman year in high school."
Of course, throwing and catching remain a focal point for many campers looking to develop their games for the high school season.
"I've learned a lot about the UH offense and just how to throw the ball and when to throw the ball, how to read defenses," said Leilehua junior Andrew Manley, who quarterbacked the Mules to the Division I state title last season. "It's helped a lot."
The clinic also includes a lesson in UH's ha'a taught by former linebackers Brad Kalilimoku and Timo Paepule.
"They're getting into it and learning it," Miano said. "Coach (Greg McMackin's) going to be shocked tomorrow because they're going to put on a show."
Reigning in Wahiawa
Manley's found he's a lot more recognizable since helping the Mules win the state championship with a memorable postseason run last fall. He was brought up from the junior varsity during the OIA playoffs and guided Leilehua to five straight wins, culminating with a 20-16 victory over Saint Louis in the state final.
"It's weird now -- everybody's like 'what's up Drew,' and I don't even know half of them," he said. "It's been fun; I'm having a good time with it, but I'm ready to go next season."
Big boys next
The Hawaii Big Man Camp will be held Monday to Wednesday. The fee is $60. Registration information is available at HawaiiAthletics.com and hawaiispeedandquickness.com or by calling 956-4516.