Wednesday, April 16, 1997
Mortimer pays a visit to practiceBy Paul Arnett
University of Hawaii president Kenneth Mortimer thought it was a perfect afternoon to play hooky.
So, instead of sweating over paperwork and making executive decisions, he decided to watch the Hawaii football team work out at Cooke Field yesterday.
"We were pleased to have him," Rainbows head coach Fred vonAppen said. "It's a great gesture on his part. I appreciate him taking time from a busy day to come out and see what we're doing.
"It's very important to the kids to see him here lending his support. He's from a higher level, so it helps us from that perspective. I think it's terrific because he stayed for quite awhile."
Last fall, former UH assistant Trent Miles sent a letter to Mortimer, imploring him to show his support by not only attending the games at Aloha Stadium, but by coming to practice as well.
Miles left earlier this year to be an assistant at Fresno State, saying it was because he felt there wasn't enough support coming from Mortimer and UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida.
"I remember when Trent wrote that letter," vonAppen said. "I'm just glad that the president decided to be here today. He said he may make it out again before we're through. And I think that's great for everybody."
LAULU HEADED TO UTAH: Former UH safety Steve Laulu will join linebacker Peter Salavea at Dixie Junior College this fall.
Both players are hoping to join the University of Utah program. Laulu could have played for the Utes in the fall, but wasn't given his release by vonAppen.
"I'm not very happy with Steve because we gave him a chance to redeem himself and he didn't," vonAppen said. "This is a similar situation to Hauoli Wong (who transferred to Brigham Young University last year). I'm not going to give a release to somebody transferring to a rival school."
That means Laulu has to sit out a year before he can compete at another Division I program. Once enrolled at Utah, he will have two years of eligibility remaining.
The former Kahuku High player joined the program in 1995, but redshirted with a shoulder injury. He was an academic casualty last spring, but managed to rescue himself under the watchful eye of vonAppen and assistant coach Guy Benjamin.
Last year, Laulu finished with 23 tackles in 11 games.
He was one of four players at midterm who were believed to be on the academic bubble. He survived that problem, but was not allowed to participate in spring drills because he wasn't attending class regularly this semester.
"Coach is really strict about that," senior defensive back Eddie Klaneski said. "If you get into academic trouble, the coaches are going to keep a close eye on you to make sure you're going to class."
Salavea and Laulu were recruited by former UH head coach Bob Wagner in 1995. Salavea flunked out after his freshmen year and never made it back to UH.
Both will attend Dixie Junior College in Snow, Utah, in hopes of being eligible to play at the University of Utah in 1998.
INJURY UPDATE: Defensive lineman Tony Tuioti strained his back during yesterday's workout, further depleting the number of healthy linemen in spring camp.
Fellow lineman Ben Bright returned to practice, but is still slowed by a bad hamstring. Running back Franklin Saunders sprained his ankle, joining several UH players on the sidelines bothered by similar ailments.
Receiver Davey deLaura is still sidelined with a bad ankle.
"Overall, we're pretty healthy," vonAppen said. "But we're so thin up front, we can't afford anything serious. So far, so good."
SCRIMMAGE ON SATURDAY: The final scrimmage of the spring is set for Saturday at Cooke Field, but just how many plays will be run remains to be seen.
"It will all depend on how many healthy linemen we have," vonAppen said. "If we lose anybody else this week or during the scrimmage, it will be very short."
A workable depth chart may be forthcoming after spring practice is completed, but nothing will be etched in stone.
"We think the rest of the recruiting class will have an impact this summer," vonAppen said. "We'll have an idea of who will be where after spring, but we want fall camp to be a proving ground."