CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Senior Daniel Libre has been splitting repetitions at running back with junior Leon Wright-Jackson and David Farmer.
Libre enjoys veteran status
So much has changed since Daniel Libre last reported for fall camp.
Around this time 12 months ago, he was a relatively anonymous slotback just looking to earn a spot with the Hawaii football team.
This time around, the secret's out.
After coming out of obscurity to spark the Warriors running game in the final third of the regular season last fall, Libre is among the Warriors' leaders at running back, a role likely to be shared among UH's diverse group of backs.
"I can feel the difference in practice," said Libre, who averaged 8.3 yards per carry after breaking into the rotation last season. "When I come in I feel the defense keying on me, like they know I might be getting the ball."
That feeling is likely to continue when the Warriors start lining up against defenses other than their own.
Libre's status as a leading returnee in the backfield is a long way from where he was last year as a receiver buried on the depth chart after making stops at Menlo College and Kapiolani Community College following his graduation from Konawaena.
He spent the first half of the season on the scout team, but gradually started to see more time in practice with the first offense. With Kealoha Pilares out with an injury, Libre made his Division I debut against Fresno State, picking up 61 yards on six carries. He had his best game of the season against Washington in the regular-season finale, when he picked up 143 total yards.
Now the expectations have been kicked up as he's among those being counted on to power a Warriors ground game expected to carry a bigger load in the offense this season.
"When I came into Fresno it was a big change, changed my life really," Libre said. "But I don't want it to go to my head. I have to keep myself grounded because there's always somebody better."
So far in camp, the senior has been splitting repetitions with junior Leon Wright-Jackson and David Farmer, all three bringing different strengths to the position.
Libre, the scatback of the bunch, showed off some of his quickness through the hole and shiftiness in space while breaking off a couple of sizable gains in Tuesday's practice.
"I know we're all going to play," Libre said, "because we all complement each other."
As the smallest of the UH backs, the 5-foot-8, 185-pound Libre said he concentrated on strength training in the offseason to better handle the blocking assignments required of running backs as well as his new role in the spotlight.
"I've never really faced anything like this before," Libre said. "I thought coming in against Fresno was tough; it's going to be a lot tougher at Florida. But I've been training this entire time, since (the Sugar Bowl against) Georgia. I haven't taken a day off yet."