Star-Bulletin Sports


Gilmore happy to
be in the mix

The junior is 1 of 6 Hawaii players
in the equation at safety

By Dave Reardon

He is not the fastest or the biggest. He is neither the strongest nor the most experienced.

Of the six contenders to play safety for Hawaii next fall, David Gilmore can be easy to overlook.

But don't be surprised if Gilmore battles his way into more and more playing time. The work ethic of the player they call "Happy" has his coaches elated.

"He's improved every year since he got here," coach June Jones said of the 6-foot, 188-pound junior from Albuquerque, N.M. "His speed and quickness are a lot better than last fall. He's one of five or six bodies back there that look like they're going to be players. We just have to sort it out come game day."

Gilmore stood out yesterday in spring practice, picking off a pass and knocking away several others as the offense worked on its red-zone attack.

Defensive backs coach Rich Miano was already a fan.

"Every year he gets a little bigger, a little faster, a little stronger. When he came to us, he was probably a Division II safety, last year Division I-AA. Now he's beginning to look like a Division I safety," Miano said. "He's very intelligent. He has to continue to get faster and stronger, but he'll help us on special teams and he's making some plays at safety. Right now it's a six-man mix and he's part of that mix. David's going to give you 100 percent. He's a heckuva kid."

Gilmore hopes spring Saturdays running stairs and sprints translates into fall Saturdays on the playing field. He works out with three of the team's fitness fanatics: cornerback Abe Elimimian, safety Keith Bhonapha and Miano.

"Happy's a good kid, one of our smartest safeties," Elimimian said.

Smart enough to know that more speed equals more big plays.

"My biggest thing is trying to get faster," Gilmore said. "After we run, we work out our legs for explosiveness. In practice, I try to make plays every day. That's what the coaches want to see. They want to see you show up on film."

When spring practice wraps up after Sunday's scrimmage, the most important time for players like Gilmore -- players at positions where starters aren't set -- begins, Miano said.

"We tell the guys if we had to play tomorrow the starters would probably be Sean Butts and Leonard Peters, but that's only because we have to line two guys up," Miano said. "The other guys need to know if they can improve mentally and physically over the summer, it's 'Hey, I've got a chance to start against Eastern Illinois,' because we've still got training camp to go.

"This time frame coming up right now is the most valuable of their careers because it's unsupervised and it's about who is going to work harder, who is going to become better between now and Aug. 31."

Gilmore, who came into camp listed as Peters' backup, knows the numbers are against him starting. But it won't affect his level of effort.

"I think whatever happens, we'll be good back there. It's hard to replace Nate (Jackson) and Jake (Espiau)," Gilmore said. "They're good players, Nate flying around, Jake was the brain. It's a matter of us stepping up."

UH Athletics

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