Warriors’ Hunter
declares for NFL Draft

The UH tackle says family
and draft depth were factors
in his decision to turn pro

Lafaele, Perry commit to UH

By Dave Reardon

Hawaii starting left tackle Wayne Hunter is forgoing his senior season and making himself available for the upcoming NFL Draft, Hunter told the Star-Bulletin last night.

Hunter said he came to the decision "a couple days after New Year's."

"There were a lot of factors, football-wise and family-wise," Hunter said. "One is that the quality of left tackles available in the draft this year is weak. I'm confident I'll be chosen somewhere in the draft."

UH coach June Jones was on the mainland and unavailable for comment last night.

Hunter, assisted by adviser Larry Goeas, filled out forms to enter the draft yesterday. This weekend he goes to Los Angeles to meet and sign up with his agent, Kenny Zuckerman of Priority Sports.

Priority Sports represents Hawaii-raised NFL centers Olin Kreutz of the Chicago Bears and Dominic Raiola of the Detroit Lions.

"One of the first things we'll do is try to get invited to the (scouting) combine," Hunter said. "Priority is pretty confident they can get me in."

Hunter, a Radford High School graduate, began his college career as a defensive lineman at Cal before transferring to UH in 2000. After sitting out a year because of transferring, he played defensive line for the Warriors in 2001.

Last spring Hunter moved to the offensive line, and started every game for UH at left tackle last season, except for the Hawaii Bowl. He was suspended from that game for what Jones said was conduct detrimental to the team. Hunter declined to talk about the suspension last night, but said it had nothing to do with his turning professional.

"Coach Jones did what he had to do, there are no hard feelings," Hunter said.

Hunter is 6-feet-6 and 299 pounds, but as agile as much smaller athletes. UH coaches have described him in the past as a prototype NFL left tackle.

"He's a phenomenal athlete," Goeas said.

UH Athletics


Lafaele following
in Manuwai’s steps

By Dave Reardon

Michael Lafaele, who orally committed to Hawaii yesterday, bears some striking resemblances to Vince Manuwai, the former UH star who is preparing for the NFL Draft. And Lafaele hopes to take the same route to pro football.

Like Manuwai, Lafaele is an offensive lineman from Farrington High School. They also share the traits of physical strength and leadership ability.

"I think he's a lot like Vince," Farrington coach Randall Okimoto said of the 6-foot-1, 280-pound Lafaele. "He has a good work ethic, he's strong. He's smart, and he has the grades. He's a very coachable young man, very humble, the way he carries himself. He leads well and was the anchor on our offensive line."

Lafaele, ranked No. 8 in the Star-Bulletin's list of prospects, and Kahuku defensive back George Perry (No. 13), who also committed to UH yesterday, are the Warriors' first recruits this winter.

Lafaele said he chose Hawaii because his family will be able to see him play and UH offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh has helped several players -- including his role model Manuwai, who is expected to go high in the draft -- achieve their NFL dreams.

"Vince told me going to UH was the best decision he ever made and the best choice for me is to stay at home," said Lafaele, a first-team Star-Bulletin all-stater who also drew interest from Alabama and Utah. "There will be more opportunities for me here. Coach Cavanaugh and Coach (June) Jones both know how to win and help players reach their goals."

The commitments become binding when players sign letters of intent and submit them to UH. The first day to do so is Feb. 5.

Okimoto said Lafaele could be the sleeper of this year's recruiting class.

"I think he wasn't noticed last year. But this year all the coaches around the league asked about him," Okimoto said. "He proved himself. He really improved his senior year, a pretty drastic improvement. I expect him to continue improving."

Perry, a 5-11, 165-pound cornerback, is considered one of the best pass defenders in the state.

UH Athletics

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