2 Warriors headed for homecoming


POSTED: Thursday, September 10, 2009

Most of the Hawaii football team left yesterday for its longest road trip of the season.

Two Warriors left for home.

The majority of the UH players on the travel squad will be in unfamiliar territory over the next 11 days when they take on Washington State at Seattle's Qwest Field on Saturday and UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium next week.

Not linebacker Aaron Brown and running back Leon Wright-Jackson, who anticipate opposite emotions when they run out on the Seattle Seahawks' turf.

“;Not too jittery ... it'll calm me down, it'll be like I'm at home,”; said Wright-Jackson, of Pasco, Wash., which lies between Seattle and the WSU campus in Pullman.

“;I'll definitely be more fired up,”; said Brown, of Spokane, Wash. He moved to Seattle when he was about 5 or 6. “;I'm going to be a little more nervous.

It'll be the first time I'll be playing D-I in front of my family and friends.”;

Wright-Jackson estimated he'll have 60 family members at the game against the Pac-10 Cougars (0-1), while Brown counted tickets for 20 friends and couldn't even wager how much family would be there.

Brown, who notched five tackles against Central Arkansas in a reserve role—including an 11-yard sack—made his return to morning practice yesterday after being sidelined by a hamstring injury.

“;It's getting better day by day,”; Brown said. “;I've got a couple more days before the game so I'll rest up and get more treatment on it. Hopefully I'll be back to 100 percent by the game.”;

He probably didn't need any extra motivation besides winning in front of his inner circle, but he has it, anyway: heavy familiarity with Wazzu.

“;Every week's circled, but this definitely has an added incentive,”; the junior college transfer said. “;I was recruited by them, I've got a lot of history with the coach (Paul Wulff). I lived there. I know some players on the team.”;

To top it off, Brown's brother Brynsen goes to Eastern Washington and played two years for Wulff.

Wright-Jackson said he also knows a few Cougars players, and considers any game he plays in front of family special.

For many in his family, it'll be the first look they've had of him since he was a Parade All-American out of Pasco High. He went for 42 all-purpose yards against the UCA Bears last week.

Both Wright-Jackson (from personal experience against the Cougars last year) and Brown are wary of WSU's hard-knock tactics.

“;You know, just 'cause they struggle (2-11 overall last year) in the Pac-10, they're still a good team,”; Wright-Jackson said. “;We learned that last year. They can hit (in a 24-10 UH win).

“;There's big guys, we learned that in '07 when we played (Washington). It's football, so you gotta be prepared to play them.”;

“;They have a lot of power running backs,”; Brown said. “;It's going to be a lot of hard hitting, hard-nosed football. We've been game-planning this whole week for it so we're ready.”;


Happy return for Wadsworth, too

Mike Wadsworth just left Las Vegas a few months ago, and his first college road trip will take him back to Nevada.

After graduating from Silverado High in Las Vegas, making the travel squad for the Warriors' two-game swing to Seattle and Las Vegas was high on the true freshman's wish list when he arrived on campus over the summer.

“;It was my main goal when I came out here, so I'm glad I accomplished that and can help the team and earned a spot on the travel squad,”; Wadsworth said before the team's departure yesterday.

Wadsworth is a backup safety, but contributes primarily on special teams.

His family has moved from Las Vegas to Utah, but he said they'll be in town for next week's game.

He hopes to make an impact with the Warriors before going on a two-year LDS mission after this school year. He worked through some jitters in making his college debut last week, and will get a quick lesson on life on the road over the next 11 days.

“;Everything's coming so fast, I'm trying to ask all the older guys how things work and they've been a big help,”; Wadsworth said.

“;A lot of these guys haven't traveled like this,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said. “;We're taking a lot of freshmen and young guys. ... The seniors will set an example, they'll set the leadership.”;


Short yardage

Defensive end Elliott Purcell suited up for practice for the first time this week. He had been sitting out with a bruised thigh. John Fonoti hasn't practiced since suffering a knee injury last week, but made the trip.

“;Fonoti's going to go and get treated and hopefully he'll be ready and if not we'll get him ready for the UNLV game,”; McMackin said.