Alama-Francis joins Akpan
at spring football practice

The UH basketball walk-on says
he last played in Pop Warner

By Dave Reardon

He's practicing with the football team and has been approached about playing baseball and volleyball. But will Ikaika Alama-Francis continue with the Hawaii basketball team?

"We'll see how that works," Alama-Francis said after his first football practice yesterday.

The 6-foot-7, 210-pound walk-on forward played 10 minutes in nine games as a freshman in UH's just-completed basketball season.

Basketball associate head coach Bob Nash said yesterday Alama-Francis will meet with head coach Riley Wallace later this week about his future. Wallace was returning from the Final Four in New Orleans yesterday.

Alama-Francis worked out at defensive end yesterday, playing football for the first time since "Pop Warner in seventh and eighth grade," he said.

"I just have to get to the rituals and get the flow, catch on," he said.

Alama-Francis was a basketball, volleyball and baseball standout at Kalaheo High School, from which he graduated last year. His father is Joe Francis, who starred in football at Oregon State and played four years with the Green Bay Packers as a backup quarterback to Bart Starr.

"My dad supports me in anything I do, but he's excited that I'm playing football," Alama-Francis said. "I was thinking of doing this for a while. I love football and I come from a football family, so I might as well take it up."

He said the fact that basketball teammate Nkeruwem "Tony" Akpan joined the football team last week helped spur him to do the same.

UH football coach June Jones said Alama-Francis has the potential to get on the playing field for games at some point.

"We offered Ikaika a football scholarship out of high school, but he elected to play basketball," Jones said. "He's an athlete. He's got physical toughness and he likes the weight room. Before he gets out of here he might be a good player."

Defensive line coach Vantz Singletary said he likes Alama-Francis' athleticism, and thinks he could play either linebacker or defensive end eventually.

After practice, reserve defensive linemen Wilson Cluney and Peivi Tauiliili, along with Singletary, put in some extra time tutoring Akpan and Alama-Francis.

"It's a lot of fun, because you see their potential and you have an idea of what they can do," Cluney said. "Tony has a really good pass rush. If we can help him exploit that then he can be a player on the football field like he is on the basketball court. The greatest feeling is helping others on your team get better because we're all trying to get to the same place."

He said it doesn't bother him too much that players from other sports could cut into his own limited chances for playing time.

"From a personal standpoint it's tough, because we're all out here battling for position," Cluney said. "But the best players out there, that's what we want, that's what the school needs. If I can't play, I can help coach."

Former NFL running back Christian Okoye planned to visit practice today. Okoye is in town to promote a charity golf tournament that will include other former pro football stars.

Volleyball imports, too?: Volleyball sophomore middle blocker Delano Thomas threw a football around with volunteer Guy Antti yesterday. Thomas said he might go out for football as a receiver in the fall.

Junior middle blocker Shaun Frederick has also been to some practices this spring, and said he plans to try out as a defensive lineman in the fall.

Short yardage: Transfer quarterback Kyle Rice is on the spring roster and planned to walk on. But he did not come out for practice because his college athletic eligibility will expire in the fall. ... Yesterday's practice visitors included Quin Ah You, a defensive line recruit from Kahuku who will join the team in the fall, and his father, Kahuku, Arizona State and CFL legend Junior Ah You.

UH Athletics

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