on the move

UH shifts players into different
positions to solidify the lineup

Spartans' roster spartan
Warrior Notebook

By Dave Reardon

June Jones and his Hawaii football staff aren't shy about moving players to different positions. Many times it has worked out very well -- last year Chris Brown was shifted from defensive end and became an all-conference middle linebacker.

The latest changes also involve defensive players. Junior cornerback Hyrum Peters is working out at strong safety and freshman middle linebacker Ikaika Curnan is taking reps at outside linebacker as the Warriors go into their second and final week of two-a-days.

The Peters move is partly by necessity (injuries to safeties Leonard Peters and Matt Manuma).

"We're going to give him some reps there because of the injuries," Jones said.

It's also partly by design.

"He's such a good tackler, it's a natural," defensive backs coach Rich Miano said. "He's a consummate football player, even the way he structures his notes in meetings. He's smart on the field and in the classroom."

Peters, a two-time member of the Western Athletic Conference all-academic team, is far more than a bookworm, though. He's a hard-nosed tackler, and was fifth on the team with 76 stops last year; that's a lot of tackles, especially for a 5-foot-8, 180-pound cornerback.

"He gives us enough against the run," defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa understated. "And we wanted to get our best four cover guys in the secondary. He can match up against a third receiver. Keith Bhonapha looks pretty good at nickel, and Chad Kapanui is still a guy we like to use in run situations, like when we drop into an eight-man front."

Lempa and Miano said the solid play of Abe Elimimian and Kelvin Millhouse at the corners allowed UH to move Peters.

"It's more fun. I can see the whole picture now. Before it was just one-on-one. Now it's more responsibility and assignments," said Hyrum Peters, who never played safety before. "Since I've been here three years, I have a good idea of what's supposed to be done. I know what the linebackers do, I play nickel. It's not just focus on my own position anymore."

He relishes the opportunity to be a physical presence against the run.

"Yeah, more of that, and picks too. Like Abe says, 'A pick a day makes it a good day.' "

Curnan (5-11, 210) was stuck behind senior Brown and junior Chad Kalilimoku in the middle. But since he is fast in addition to being strong, the coaches decided to try him at weakside linebacker, where he can join the competition to back up senior Pisa Tinoisamoa.

"We want to move him around so he'll learn all the linebacker positions," Lempa said. "He's a good, solid football player."

Curnan, who is playing outside linebacker for the first time, said there is a mental adjustment to make.

"The reads are a little slower. You can't be too aggressive. You have to know when to be aggressive and when to hang back," Curnan said. "I'm trying to get on the field and help out the team any way I can. I'm playing on kickoff, punt and punt return, too. You gotta earn your stripes."

... In 1991, junior kicker Jason Elam kicked a school record 55-yard field goal to help the Rainbows beat Wyoming 32-17 in the first game of the season. UH finished 4-7-1 (3-5 WAC), but not because of team MVP Elam; he was named a third-team AP All-American.

Elam finished his career as the Rainbows' all-time scoring leader. His 395 points outdistance next on the list, Michael Carter, by 167. In 1992, Elam broke his own mark with a 56-yard field goal. He has five of the longest six field goals in school history.

The Georgia native was selected in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, whom he has represented in three Pro Bowls. He kicked a 63-yard field goal in 1998, tying for longest in NFL history.

Today, Elam is Denver's all-time leading scorer, but his future there is in doubt because of a breakdown in contract negotiations.

UH Athletics

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