UH WARRIOR FOOTBALL
MIKE BURLEY / MBURLEY@STARBULLETIN.COM
R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane stepped into starting linebacker Adam Leonard's spot yesterday.
Backups step up
Whether because of classes or injury, several Hawaii backups saw time with the first team yesterday.
Linebacker Adam Leonard, who had a summer school class early in the day, sat out practice with a tight hamstring, elevating junior R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane into the starting group for the Warrior defense.
Kiesel-Kauhane got some work with the starters in the spring and is looking to contribute when the Warriors open the season at Florida.
"The Swamp, there's nothing like it, you're challenging the conditions," Kiesel-Kauhane said. "I have to work my game up so we won't miss a beat.
"In spring you're getting to know the new plays and then in fall you just have to be ready. It's a whole different level."
Leonard, an All-Western Athletic Conference pick last season, said he "tweaked" his hamstring during Thursday's practice and plans to be back on the field by Monday.
"It just shows how deep we are," Leonard said of Kiesel-Kauhane stepping in. "I have full confidence in him, Tyson (Kafentzis) and Brashton (Satele) to step in at any point in the season and there will be no fall off."
Also getting first-team reps were guard Raphael Ieru in place of Lafu Tuioti-Mariner (calf) and defensive end Elliott Purcell for John Fonoti (hamstring). First-team cornerbacks Ryan Mouton and Jameel Dowling also had classes in the morning. Before Mouton made it out for the latter portion of practice, Calvin Roberts and JoPierre Davis were the first corners in the rotation.
"That's one of our big deals, we want to graduate our students," head coach Greg McMackin said. "We're working hard to make sure they understand that they don't have to feel guilty about going to class. We'll make it up on the football side of it."