DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Ryan Mouton, right, looks forward to the challenge of covering Florida's NFL-caliber receivers.
Mouton’s the total package
The UH corner has the smarts, speed and instincts of a star and the personality of a great teammate
When Keao Monteilh heard there would be a promising cornerback joining the Hawaii secondary last year, he figured he'd reach out to Ryan Mouton and get a feel for how the newcomer might blend into the mix.
Ah, the power of MySpace.
"I got to know him a little better, he came out and we became good friends," Monteilh said of their Internet chats.
"I could tell he was a clown already just how he writes and how he talks. He was probably thinking the same thing about me."
Mouton is usually the guy having the most fun on the sidelines during the Warrior practices, but the Houston product knows how to flip the switch when he steps onto the field, where he can display a serious set of skills.
"Football's supposed to be fun," Mouton said. "It's been a long camp and everybody's tired, but you just try to keep it upbeat. When we're on the field, it's serious. It's about business."
Mouton, a 5-foot-10 senior, has locked down a cornerback spot but will continue to roam the Warriors secondary in nickel situations, giving him a chance to make plays on blitzes as well as in coverage.
Want to get UH associate coach Rich Miano talking? Just ask him about the package Mouton brings to the Warrior secondary.
"He's got the smarts, he's got the instincts, he's got the ability," said Miano, now in his 10th season of coaching Warrior defensive backs.
"Once in a while you'll get a fast guy but he may be a little slower reacting because he doesn't understand the concepts as well, or he doesn't react as quickly. Ryan is a smart fast guy. He tackles well, his technique is very good. ... He's the most explosive person on the field."
Mouton was slowed by knee injuries last season after transferring from Blinn (Texas) Junior College, but played in 11 games and posted 26 tackles and two interceptions and broke up nine other throws.
Now back for his senior season, Mouton -- along with the rest of the Warriors secondary -- enjoyed a productive week in practice as UH closed fall camp. He broke in front of a receiver and took an interception to the end zone in Thursday's workout at Aloha Stadium and made a leaping grab of a throw that appeared to be sailing out of bounds yesterday.
"He's so talented, he's got speed, he's got great vert," said Monteilh, the Warriors' starting free safety. "He's such a talented guy I don't really have to worry about him."
Although Mouton enjoys blitzing off the edge as a nickel back, he relishes the one-on-one challenge of playing cornerback. The UH secondary will face one of its most daunting tasks of the season on Saturday when they open against a Florida receiver corps brimming with speed.
Reports in the Gainesville Sun yesterday said standout receiver Percy Harvin, who had been recovering from heel surgery, practiced for the first time and could play against the Warriors.
"You can't try to do too much, just be in position to make a play," Mouton said of his approach to defending the speedy Gators.
"Knowing you're playing against the guys they have, the burners and the NFL-caliber guys that they are, you have to be jacked up for those types of thing."
Now in his second year in Hawaii, Mouton has acclimated to island life with the help of teammates such as Monteilh and just passed his final Samoan class this month.
"I go home and I'm there for two or three days and the next thing you know I'm calling this guy," Mouton said pointing to Monteilh.
"We're laid back. We like to make practice a little more fun, so the new guys can see it's not just a hard struggle," Monteilh said. "Game time it's serious. No jokes on the field."
Along with Mouton's interception yesterday, Warriors defensive backs came up with three more picks, one each for Chris Black, Desmond Thomas and Calvin Roberts. Black almost came down with another spectacular diving grab near the sideline and has been moving up the depth chart since joining practice.
"They come in bunches," Miano said. "The last few days we've been really tightening things down, reacting better to the quarterbacks, seeing the ball thrown and actually making the play."