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Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, August 23, 2000

U H _ F O O T B A L L

UH coach
not afraid to
play newcomers

Jones says if they can
contribute to the football
team, they'll get a chance

Warriors notebook

By Paul Arnett

Former University of Hawaii head football coach Bob Wagner used to hand out redshirts as if he bought them in bulk at K-Mart.

About the only four-year players on his squad were All-Western Athletic Conference linebacker Mark Odom and place-kicker Carlton Oswalt.

Warriors head coach June Jones doesn't take a similar approach. If his freshmen can contribute right away, he lets them.

No questions asked.

Just how many of the current class of 2004 will play this year is anyone's guess. But don't be surprised if there are a lot of fresh faces on the depth chart this season.

"We tell our new guys that if they can contribute, even if it's just on special teams, we want them to play right away,'' Jones said.

"There will probably be some players in this class who we redshirt, but we won't know how many until the end of the season.''

Currently, there are 19 true freshmen in this class that Jones calls the best in Hawaii history.

Two of them - former Kahuku High School receiver Orlando Wong and Kamehameha Schools linebacker Isaiah Alameda - will be redshirted. Wong went on a church mission and Alameda is out with a shoulder injury.

Of the remaining 17 recruits, the most likely to see action this season are Kamehameha kicker Justin Ayat, quarterback Timmy Chang, converted linebacker Chad Kapanui, and wideouts Mark Tate and Gerald Welch.

Several of the young offensive linemen could also be pressed into duty should any key injuries occur. The head of that list would be former St. Louis School stars Phil Kauffman and Chad Kahale because they are familiar with the run-and-shoot system employed by Jones.

Iolani's Uriah Moenoa and Mililani's Ryan Santos are quality offensive linemen as well, but they attended high schools that relied primarily on the run. Offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh said it would take them awhile longer to adjust to pass blocking.

Will Jackson of Detroit finally received his medical clearance yesterday and could be a part of Cavanaugh's plans down the road.

"We've got a lot of young guys already contributing from last year,'' said Cavanaugh, who will start one senior, two juniors and two sophomores. "I like our young guys coming in. How hard they work and how well they adjust to our system will determine how many will play this season.''

The secondary is another area where young guys could leave their mark.

Granted, Hawaii is deep at safety, but the cornerback position is thin.

Look for Abraham Elimimian to perhaps make an impact at that spot. Jones said yesterday the Los Angeles resident was looking good in the early workouts as did secondary coach Rich Miano.

"He doesn't have any bad habits we need to work on,'' Miano said. "He might have an opportunity to play this year. We'll just see how he develops during the season.''

Another young defensive back who is playing well is Tyson Hampton from Sacramento, Calif.

Miano likes his size (6-foot, 183) and his ability to close on the football. The fact he played receiver in high school proves he has good hands back there.

"I took one look at our defensive backs the first newcomer practice and liked what I saw,'' Jones said. "This is a very talented class from top to bottom.''

The most-watched of this group is Chang. He is among the top four quarterbacks on the team and is likely challenging sophomore Kevin Gillbride for the third spot in the batting order behind sophomore Mike Harrison and junior college transfer Nick Rolovich.

Jones may give Chang some snaps during the year, but doesn't want to waste a season on him if he's not going to see significant playing time. At this stage, that's still up in the air.

"If any of our young guys proves during the season that they belong on the field, then they'll be out there,'' Jones said. "We've got a lot of depth at certain positions, but some of the new guys are definitely going to play.''

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