Hawaii DB newcomers already on an island


POSTED: Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The shock value didn't come from between the stripes.

It came from those gathered around them.

As Hawaii fans watched Monday's kickoff to spring training, they caught their first glimpse of junior college transfers Lametrius Davis and Melvin Hopkins among the new-look Warriors. In turn, it was the first take of the UH faithful—gathered about 100 strong at the UH grass practice field—for the two defensive backs.

“;I was looking around, looking at everybody like, 'Dang, this is how it is, how it looks at the next level,' “; said Davis, a 6-foot, 190-pound junior from Butte College (Calif.) “;Oh no, we never had that (for a JC practice).”; He chuckled.

Hopkins was equally stunned.

“;Everything's just different. It's like, I'd never had so many people watch a practice like that,”; said Hopkins (5-9, 165) of Navarro College (Texas). “;It makes it feel like a game. I can get used to that, but I've never been a part of this. It's crazy.”;

Davis and Hopkins limited the wide eyes to their initial take of their surroundings, and not to their play. Both impressed secondary coaches Rich Miano (cornerbacks) and Chris Tormey (safeties) in the first of 15 practices. Davis is slated to work as both a safety and a cornerback, but will operate strictly as the former this week.

Getting some immediate playmakers was crucial for the Warriors defense. UH must plug in new faces in the entire secondary with the losses of safeties Erik Robinson and Keao Monteilh and cornerbacks Calvin Roberts, Jameel Dowling and Ryan Mouton.

Hopkins must put on some muscle to earn either the left or right cornerback job, Miano said, but if both he and Davis can build off their initial showing through the next four months until fall camp, things bode well.

“;Both of those guys should be contributors, if not starters,”; Miano said. “;Those guys have been pretty much what we hoped or expected. We've got a long way to go, it's only been one practice, but I see those guys have the right focus and attitude to definitely make an impact for us.”;

Chris Black, Jeramy Bryant, and Richard Torres are also in the mix for secondary jobs, as well as Lewis Walker and Steven Christian. Juniors Mana Silva and Spencer Smith also return at safety.

Davis, who earned high marks for effort and athleticism in fundamental drills from Tormey, hesitated at the notion that the team is rebuilding on defense—from an effort standpoint, at least.

“;I really don't feel ... well, just from experience, we're building from scratch, but I think the players here, they all hungry,”; said Davis, whose Butte Roadrunners went 12-0 last season. “;It's a good thing, like Coach Miano said, everybody's hungry, everybody wants to make a name for themself. That's going to be good for everybody in the secondary, because everybody going to compete. Every play's going to be hard, because every play could determine whether you're going to play or not. You're going to get the most out of everybody.”;

Hopkins walked on at Navarro after an injury-hit senior year of high school, but quickly established himself as a playmaker and started three games into his freshman season for the Bulldogs.

Now that he's established himself as a Division I player—his childhood dream—Hopkins intends to make a play or two for the Warriors ... and their fans.

“;Oh, it's way better, way better,”; Hopkins said of the entire D-I atmosphere. “;More intense, it's great.”;