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H A W A I I _ S P O R T S


Friday, March 17, 2000



Team springs into action

It wasn't a stellar opening session for the University of Hawaii football team, but all things considered, the first spring practice yesterday wasn't too unruly.

A little more than 100 players broke from the huddle as the sun came up over Cooke Field. The Rainbows wore jerseys, shorts and helmets - no pads allowed until next week.

They went through a variety of drills in the two-hour session, including some special teams work. UH coach June Jones didn't give a glowing review, but did concede the team is a lot farther along than it was a year ago.

"We're night and day from where we were last year," Jones said yesterday morning. "But we still have some of the new guys that are playing in the night.

"We've just got to recondition everybody to get plugged in again. But it's good to be back out here playing some football. This is the fun part of the job."

All eyes were on the five quarterbacks competing for the starting job. They are returnees Mike Harrison, Shawn Withy-Allen and Kevin Gilbride, and junior college transfers Jared Flint and Nick Rolovich. There were times when two footballs headed toward one receiver, but in Jones' mind, that's all part of the learning process.

"These guys are still learning to make the proper reads, so until then, the receivers had better be on their toes," Jones said. It seems like every time you start up, you're just happy the guys can take the snap from center. "We've got a lot of new guys on offense, so it's a little rough. But all in all, for the first day it wasn't too bad."

Brooks back

University of Hawaii outside linebacker Rinda Brooks returned to the team for a belated senior season.

Recruited by former head coach Fred vonAppen three years ago, Brooks left the team last spring because of concussion problems.

After spending a year away from the field, Brooks started to feel better and asked Jones if he could return.

"He had a medical year last season because of the concussions, so he petitioned the NCAA to see if he could get that year back," Jones said. "And they granted him another season.

"He can run and he's a big kid. According to everyone who was here, he can really play. So, hopefully it will all work out for him."

Brooks said he was a little out of shape, but was glad to be back on a football field. Injuries plagued the Houston resident throughout his junior season in 1998. He finished with five tackles in three games before repeated dizzy spells forced him to the sidelines.

In 1997, Brooks had 25 tackles in 10 games. The transfer from New Mexico Institute also had one sack and one recovered fumble.

Rings all around

Jones handed out the Western Athletic Conference championship rings yesterday afternoon to current and former players alike.

It marked only the second time in 20 years that the Rainbows have shared a WAC title. They have never won the crown outright, but do have two bowl wins over the past eight years.

"Everyone enjoyed that experience last year," Jones said of Hawaii's 9-4 campaign that ended with an Oahu Bowl win over Oregon State. "It was a special season for the players and the coaches. The ring will always be a reminder of what those guys accomplished on the football field."

Injury update

The only player who didn't take part in yesterday's practice because of injury was freshman Keyonta Marshall, who sprained his ankle.

"I don't think he's going to miss all of spring, but we'll see," Jones said. "He'll be on crutches for a few days."

Talented defensive end Laanui Correa also will be out for at least three practices with a mild case of pneumonia. Jones is hopeful he'll be back before spring break in two weeks.

By Paul Arnett, Star-Bulletin

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