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Plenty of competition in Hawaii camp


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POSTED: Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The accommodations aren't exactly luxurious. But those who've experienced fall camps with the Hawaii football team appreciate the benefits of the setup.

The Warriors report for camp today, settling in for their 2 1/2 -week stay in the athletic department's dance studios. They'll hit the field tomorrow afternoon for the first of 19 fall-camp practices with the opener against Central Arkansas awaiting on Sept. 4.

“;This is a perfect place to have everyone together instead of in their own rooms,”; senior offensive lineman Laupepa Letuli said. “;You get a chance to bond on and off the field. It's fun. It's like three weeks of camping and football. What more could you want.”;

While the living arrangements tend to foster off-field unity, once practice begins the focus shifts to creating separation in the race for starting jobs.

“;There's a lot of competition,”; slotback Kealoha Pilares said. “;Coach has a lot of us next to each other on the depth chart. It's going to make everybody better in the long run.”;

The Warriors open camp with a seasoned offense looking to build on a solid spring and a defense replacing nine starters.

“;I see unity in this team, I see work ethic in this team. Now the biggest thing is to get our team personality,”; coach Greg McMackin said.

Following is a position-by-position look at the Warriors heading into camp.

 

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACK

Names to know: Greg Alexander, Brent Rausch, Shane Austin

The skinny: With a season in the offense, Alexander threw the ball with greater authority and decisiveness in the spring. McMackin said the competition between Rausch and Austin for the backup spot could be one of the tightest of camp. The top three are joined by Bryant Moniz and three true freshmen.

Mack's take: “;Greg Alexander has had an outstanding offseason and finished the season very well.”;

RUNNING BACK

Names to know: Leon Wright-Jackson, Inoke Funaki, Jayson Rego, Chizzy Dimude, Alex Green

The skinny: Slowed by injuries last season, Wright-Jackson is looking for the breakout fans have been anticipating since his arrival. Funaki hit the weights in the offseason to better handle the blocking duties in the backfield. Dimude and Green were productive junior college backs who could contribute right away.

Mack's take: “;Leon has worked out better than I've ever seen. Inoke showed good things in the spring.”;

RECEIVERS

Names to know: (Slots) Dustin Blount, Jon Medeiros, Kealoha Pilares, Greg Salas. (Outside) Rodney Bradley, Malcolm Lane, Royce Pollard, Jovonte Taylor.

The skinny: Bradley's progress in the spring allowed the coaches to move Salas into the slot. Pilares spent the summer working on his power and acceleration. The outside receivers have the speed to stretch the field, with Lane the most experienced of the bunch.

Mack's take: ”;We've got speed and we've got experience. ... The thing we need is game reps.”;

OFFENSIVE LINE

Names to know: (Center) John Estes, (guards) Ray Hisatake, Raphael Ieru, (tackles) Aaron Kia, Laupepa Letuli.

The skinny: Consistency and continuity will be keys for a line looking to reduce the penalty and sack numbers of last season. Estes headlines the group and has good chemistry with Ieru and Hisatake. Kainoa LaCount, a heralded JC lineman two years ago, joins the program as a walk on. Brysen Ginlack, a part-time starter last year, will redshirt this season.

Mack's take: ”;The offensive line has been here all year working out together, going to school, just dedicated. ... I like the personality of that offensive line.”;

 

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE LINE

Names to know: John Fonoti, Tuika Tufaga, Vaughn Meatoga, Rocky Savaiigaea, Elliott Purcell, Cameron Allen-Jones, Victor Clore, Alasi Toilolo.

The skinny: Fonoti had 9 1/2 tackles for loss last year and anchors the right side. The left side will be tightly contested between Purcell, Allen-Jones and Clore. Savaiigaea returns to the tackle rotation after being sidelined by an arm injury most of last season.

Mack's take: “;You have to have great defensive tackles to play this defense. I consider all three of those guys (Meatoga, Savaiigaea and Tufaga) starters.”;

LINEBACKER

Names to know: Brashton Satele, R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane, Mana Lolotai, Blaze Soares, Corey Paredes.

The skinny: Satele shed 26 pounds during a rigorous summer program in Arizona to reclaim the middle linebacker job. Kiesel-Kauhane was a spot starter last year and ranks among the team's strongest players. McMackin said the coaches will monitor Soares' contact to try to keep him healthy.

Mack's take: ”;(Satele) worked out hard and that showed me what kind of person he is. (Lolotai's) going to be a middle linebacker, but we're going to give him a shot at outside linebacker, too.”;

SECONDARY

Names to know: (Cornerbacks) Jeramy Bryant, Tank Hopkins, Lametrius Davis. (Safeties) Mana Silva, Kenny Estes, Spencer Smith, Aaron Brown, Richard Torres.

The skinny: Bryant, Hopkins and Davis are all expected to see action at the corner spots. Silva, Estes and Smith were the leaders at safety coming out of spring. Brown joined the group this summer with an impressive junior college resume.

Mack's take: “;I feel like we're going against one of the best pass offenses in the country every day and I believe in Rich Miano and Chris Tormey and we've just got to bring that secondary together.”;

SPECIAL TEAMS

Names to know: Scott Enos (kicker), Alex Dunnachie (punter), Luke Ingram (long snapper).

The skinny: The Warriors replace all of their specialists. They signed Enos out of junior college and brought in Dunnachie from Australia. Ingram takes over snapping duties for older brother, Jake.

Mack's take: “;We're talented, but we're young and inexperienced.”;

;*;*;*

Tuaolo: Gay athletes play for UH

The controversy surrounding Hawaii coach Greg McMackin's comments at the WAC Football Preview last week was the lead topic on ESPN's Outside The Lines yesterday.

Among the guests on the program was former NFL player Esera Tuaolo, who announced he is gay in 2002. Tuaolo said he was upset by McMackin's use of a gay slur during a press conference.

“;The funny thing about it is he has gay athletes on his team,”; Tuaolo said on the ESPN show.

McMackin is serving a 30-day unpaid suspension and took a 7 percent pay cut. He has also received a reprimand and a warning from the Western Athletic Conference.

» The game between UH and Navy on Nov. 28 will be televised on ESPNU. Kickoff for the game has been moved to 5:30 p.m.

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Star-Bulletin staff