Bradley carries big numbers home


POSTED: Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rodney Bradley is still getting accustomed to air travel.

He's already up to speed with Hawaii's aerial attack.

Before making a recruiting trip to Hawaii last fall, Bradley had ventured outside of Texas just a few times for road games with Navarro Junior College ... and those trips were by bus.

So boarding a plane for the first time and flying through five times zones to pursue his Division I career wasn't his first inclination.

But since landing in Honolulu in the spring, Bradley has caught on to the run-and-shoot quickly enough to earn a starting job and a place among the nation's most productive receivers three games into his UH career.

After visiting Seattle and Las Vegas this month, his journey will take him back home tomorrow when the Warriors (2-1) depart for Dallas, their staging area leading up to Wednesday's nationally televised Western Athletic Conference opener at Louisiana Tech (1-2).

“;I'm definitely looking forward to it. My mom lives probably about 20 minutes away from where we're going to be staying,”; Bradley said. “;Hopefully I can get a home-cooked meal.”;

Coming out of a run-based system at Navarro, Bradley established himself as a big-play threat for a UH unit ranked seventh nationally in total offense.

He's increased his output in each of his first three games, catching eight passes for 189 yards in a loss at UNLV last weekend. That performance raised his season totals to 18 receptions for 381 yards and four touchdowns and pushed him into fifth in the country in receiving yards.

“;He's got that speed and he's smart and very coachable. He's going to get better,”; UH offensive coordinator and receivers coach Ron Lee said.

“;When he first got here you could tell that he didn't have a heavy background in receiving compared to what we do. But he worked hard and he worked on his conditioning with the amount of running we do.”;

Bradley had been a fan of Hawaii's offense from afar, but never considered playing for the Warriors as an option. That was until Navarro assistant coach Kevin Curtis pulled him aside for a chat.

“;He asked me, 'Rodney would you mind playing for Hawaii?' “; Bradley recalled. “;I was like, are you serious?”;

Curtis played for UH head coach Greg McMackin at Texas Tech and again with the San Francisco 49ers, and contacted his former mentor regarding Bradley and cornerback Tank Hopkins.

“;He called me and said they don't throw the football, but Rodney could have played for us at Texas Tech or anywhere,”; McMackin said.

Bradley caught 22 passes his freshman year and 29 as a sophomore in Navarro's run-based offense. Although his opportunities were limited, “;we could see he could run and catch and he's just a great person,”; McMackin said.

Bradley said playing in a running attack created some angst over whether his recruiting options would be limited by his lack of numbers.

“;But after a while I let it go, because if it was meant to be, then I'd be somewhere,”; Bradley said. “;Plus, I couldn't control it.”;

As a junior college transfer, Bradley's ability to assimilate into the system almost immediately reminds Lee of former UH standout Jeremiah Cockheran.

His athletic gifts and aptitude in the offense contributed to the decision to move Greg Salas into the slot this season. Salas has responded by leading the nation in receiving with 159.7 yards per game.

“;We couldn't have Rodney on the bench,”; Lee said. “;There was always the possibility of Greg moving back outside, but it worked out to be a good move. Because of his speed, we had to get Rodney on the field.”;

Not even a case of turf toe has slowed Bradley so far. He caught the game-winning touchdown against Central Arkansas and had two more scores at Washington State, pulling away from the Cougars' secondary on a 73-yard catch and run.

“;It's funny. I don't feel it during the game,”; Bradley said of his troublesome toe. “;All the way to the game it's killing me, then I don't feel it.”;