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Lolotai, Heun ready, in case


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POSTED: Tuesday, August 18, 2009

They were still hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.

With Brashton Satele's status in doubt yesterday morning, Mana Lolotai and Jake Heun stepped in at middle linebacker, pushing forward even as they kept Satele in mind.

“;Brashton's our leader and will always be our leader,”; Lolotai said. “;We're just all praying for him; hopefully everything's good.”;

Satele injured his troublesome shoulder during last Saturday's practice, and had an appointment to see a doctor for an evaluation last night.

In the meantime, he attended both of yesterday's practices, running on the side as the defense went through its paces with Lolotai and Heun filling the role in the middle of the unit.

Lolotai entered the summer penciled in as the starter at middle linebacker when the coaches were considering moving Satele to defensive end. But after going through a rigorous summer training program, a trimmed-down Satele returned to linebacker for fall camp, with Lolotai and Heun backing him up.

“;We've been making sure our assignments are correct and making sure we know what we're doing on the field,”; Lolotai said. “;It's a faster pace (practicing) with the ones.”;

Lolotai impressed the coaches with a strong performance in the spring and trained with Satele this summer under the supervision of Chad Ikei in Arizona. He dropped 10 pounds, enhancing his conditioning and quickness in the middle.

Heun joined the program last season as a running back, but feels back at home at middle linebacker, his primary position in junior college.

After injuries led to Heun redshirting last fall, he dabbled at defensive end in the spring before moving to linebacker. He missed the latter part of spring practice when a calf injury acted up again, but he said he feels his speed returning so far in camp and embraces the responsibilities of the position.

“;Brashton's a natural leader, but also just the role of the Mike linebacker,”; Heun said. “;We're making the calls, we're changing the line, so it's a big thing we have to step up to. You have to know what's going on because those D-linemen are looking at you to make the calls.”;

New role for Brown

The UH coaches are looking to put safety Aaron Brown's combination of size and quickness to use in a hybrid position.

With the Warriors preparing to face several teams running spread offenses, UH head coach Greg McMackin said Brown could play a linebacker-type position in packages with five defensive backs.

The position calls for Brown to enforce against the run or cover slot receivers.

“;He has that package, so he fits perfectly in there,”; UH associate coach Rich Miano said. “;He gives us that versatility of being a DB but being very aggressive and being able to play the eight-man-front stuff and also be able to cover.”;

Brown said he played a similar role at Saddleback Community College.

“;I feel comfortable with it,”; Brown said. “;It puts me down in the box where a lot's going on. I'm happy with that. I can make a lot more plays than being in the back.”;

Brown remains part of the competition in the secondary as well, where Miano said the races for the starting safety and cornerback spots remain tight.

“;We are going to have to evaluate to the 23rd hour going into the game week,”; Miano said. “;Nobody's that far ahead of everybody else.

“;We've never had competition like this. There's going to be some tough decisions.”;

Stepping in

Last week, Brett Leonard was working with the third team and facing the prospect of redshirting this season. Yesterday, the junior college transfer was practicing with the first unit.

With Aaron Kia resting some aches in the morning practice, Leonard jumped in with the first unit at left tackle.

“;It's never a good thing when someone gets hurt, but it gives me an opportunity to show people what I can do with the ones against the big boys,”; Leonard said.

Kia was back for the afternoon practice. Clayton Laurel has been working with the second team, but continues to recover from a leg injury he suffered in the Warrior Bowl last spring.

Laupepa Letuli, the starting right tackle, banged knees with a teammate during drills and Kainoa LaCount took some snaps with the first team as well.

Individual game tickets on sale

Tickets for individual home games are now on sale. Tickets can be purchased online at HawaiiAthletics.com, by phone at 944-2697 or at the Stan Sheriff Center Box Office.

UH is offering a “;Family Pack”; promotion. With the purchase of two adult tickets, fans can receive a free student ticket for every student ticket purchased (limit 12). Group rates are also available by calling 956-9630.