WR Britton Komine, right, is helping his backup, freshman Jason Rivers, left, get up to speed.

Komine takes
under his wing

The starting left wideout is
showing Jason Rivers the ropes

It's a concept that goes directly against the human nature of selfishness. It also seems to contradict common sense.

Why would you help someone learn how to take over your job, a job you love and don't plan on giving up anytime soon?

Hawaii quarterback Tim Chang says it's how football teams that win year after year are built.

"It's real key that everybody stay competitive, but in the nature of a team," Chang said after yesterday's afternoon practice. "We don't want any guys trying to sabotage anybody or doing bad things to hurt the team. Just being competitive, making great plays, pushing the other guys to bigger limits, I think is the key to a successful program."

And it's all part of the responsibility of being a team member, says Britton Komine. The UH junior wide receiver is fending off talented Jason Rivers while at the same time helping the true freshman learn the Warriors' ways.

Komine is confident enough to believe he can do both -- that he can help prepare Rivers for Division I college football while performing well enough himself to keep the starting job at left wideout.

Plus, it's becoming a tradition at UH, especially among the receivers. No matter how talented, they can't play in the run-and-shoot unless they master its peculiarities. Receivers must read defenses correctly during plays, or passes end up in the wrong hands.

"Everybody, they help each other out," receivers coach Ron Lee said. "That makes it easy for the coaches. And we're doing it better now, so they can see how we do it. The new guys have picked it up fast. We've got just about everything (all the plays) in."

Komine said veterans taught him, and now it's his turn.

"When I came in Stutz (Craig Stutzmann) and Channon (Harris) helped me. They knew they had only two years left and I was the future," Komine said. "I only got this year and next year, and (Rivers) needs to be ready when he steps in the year after."

There are many who believe Rivers will be ready to play this year. But can he beat out Komine, UH's leading returnee in receptions (58), pass-catching yards (886) and touchdown catches (10)?

Rivers (6-foot-2, 187 pounds) is bigger than Komine (5-10, 187), but Komine runs crisper routes and has a reputation for great hands.

Rivers has run-and-shoot experience from Saint Louis School, but admits he's still adjusting to the new level.

"It's more than I expected. I have to get used to the game speed. Everyone's fast as me, quick as me, just as strong, if not stronger," he said.

Komine loves the competition. And while he is helping Rivers along, it's easy to forget Komine is actually new to the position, too. Before last spring, he played slot receiver, not wideout.

"He's got some things to learn, open up the playbook," Komine said of Rivers. "And he's learning. I've still got some things to learn, but I think I've got the edge."

Rivers said he doesn't find the situation awkward at all.

"Oh man, it's all love. It's football. Everyone's going to compete. But we all have one goal in common. As long as that gets done there's no hostility," he said.

Lee said if the season began today, his starters would be the same as when camp opened: Komine, Chad Owens, Nate Ilaoa and Jeremiah Cockheran. He said the backups are getting closer to the starters.

He also said Rivers is improving, but his progress isn't steady.

"It's not a daily improvement. He'll move up and step back. He'll show some good things today and tomorrow he won't," Lee said. "As with all the new guys, once we get done adding everything and they can do reps, they'll get better steadily."

And the experienced players?

"The biggest thing we need from our veterans is to show work ethic. Right now everybody's tightening up. What we need from our veterans is to show that you've got to work through those things and how to prepare, how to get better," Lee said. "The other things you learn by tape or playbook. How to prepare, how to practice hard, you learn from watching a good example."

UH Athletics


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