UH WARRIOR FOOTBALL
MIKE BURLEY / MBURLEY@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii senior C.J. Allen-Jones is moving from linebacker to defensive end this season.
Allen-Jones turning heads
To make the switch from linebacker to defensive end, C.J. Allen-Jones needed to gain 20 to 30 pounds over the summer.
A three-month period of lifting weights and grinding the best local foods seemed like a great way to get ready for the season, right?
Not necessarily, in the case of Allen-Jones.
"It was hard to do it," the 6-foot-2, 240-pound senior from Aberdeen, Md., said. "I think it's a lot harder to gain weight and keep it than to lose it. I can lose weight easily."
If only we all had that problem.
Nevertheless, Allen-Jones has packed on the extra weight and is using it to turn heads during the opening week of Hawaii's fall practice.
Spending most of his time practicing with the second team at defensive end, Allen-Jones has excelled at his new position.
In Wednesday's 7-on-7 drills, he found himself on more than one occasion in the face of Inoke Funaki, drawing praise from the junior quarterback.
"He's got that speed, you know, big legs," Funaki said. "He came back a lot bigger, and I think it was a good move to bring him down from linebacker to defensive end. He's going to do some great things."
Funaki isn't the only one who took notice of C.J.'s play. Defensive line coach Dave Aranda said he's been impressed with Allen-Jones' progression at a new position.
"We expected great things from C.J. coming in to this fall camp and he has exceeded our expectations," Aranda said. "We had a meeting (Wednesday) morning, talking about who's done what, and C.J. was the guy who around the room everyone was saying he's really shown up to play."
After playing in all 14 games as a sophomore, Allen-Jones' role was limited to just six games last season in a reserve role.
Coach Greg McMackin gave him the choice to switch positions in the offseason and the thought of getting more playing time his senior season was enough for Allen-Jones to say yes.
"We've got the three best linebackers in the nation," Allen-Jones said. "We had a lot of competition and stuff (at linebacker).
"They run fast and they hit hard and they're all smart. So I figured I'd move down and help the team any way I can."
It'll be hard for Allen-Jones to crack the starting lineup with David Veikune and John Fonoti anchoring the ends, but he fits perfectly into McMackin's philosophy of rotating players and keeping everyone fresh.
He's still got a lot of techniques to work on, according to Aranda, but already has the basic philosophies down.
Unlike linebacker, where you spend a lot of time reading offenses and thinking about coverages, defensive end allows Allen-Jones to focus more on attacking the quarterback and using his physical tools to wreak havoc on his opponents.
"It's definitely less thinking," Allen-Jones said. "Just one gap in front of you, kick the guy's tail in front of you and get that quarterback."