Confident Cockheran
catching on to system

In his second season,
UH's offensive captain
expects big things

JC caught 141 passes for 2,033 yards and 13 touchdowns last year.

Only problem is JC was two guys, and one is done playing college football.

Justin Colbert completed his Hawaii career in 2002 as UH's all-time leader in career receptions (212) and second only to Ashley Lelie in yardage (2,905).

Now, as the Warriors prepare to open their season Saturday against Appalachian State, it's up to the other JC, senior Jeremiah Cockheran, to help fill the void.

"Yeah, well, I definitely miss Justin. Nobody can replace him," Cockheran said of Colbert, who was his quarterback at Miller High in Fontana, Calif. "But Britt (Komine) will do a great job. And I'm looking for all of us, all four of us starting receivers, to go out and dominate."

True, Cockheran won't have to do it all by himself. Komine -- who was moved to Colbert's old left wide receiver spot from slot in the spring -- is UH's leading returning receiver with 58 catches for 886 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. And slots Chad Owens (47, 550, 2) and Nate Ilaoa (46, 532, 3) put up some decent numbers while battling injuries.

All four are healthy going into Saturday's game, and a year wiser in the machinations of the run-and-shoot.

Cockheran, who caught 49 passes for 731 yards and five scores, started seven games last year.

He was a junior college transfer learning on the job. Now he's the shop foreman.

Cockheran was elected offensive captain by his teammates last week and will now be expected to be a go-to guy in more ways than one. Senior safety Hyrum Peters was voted defensive captain.

"I was surprised," Cockheran said. "It's just my second year here. It's crazy, to have someone in that short period of time be captain."

Not to UH coach June Jones.

"He leads by example. He's a hard worker every day and he puts his teammates first," Jones said. "He's just a team player."

Cockheran arrived with the size (6 feet, 190 pounds) and speed (4.3 in the 40) to break away from defenders and be a deep threat. Now Cockheran also has the knowledge to put his natural attributes to good use.

How far he has come will be tested in the first game. Cockheran will likely draw the coverage of Appalachian State's Jay Lyles, a second-team All-Southern Conference pick last year.

"The guy they're going to have on me, he's good. He's 6-1, 185 and fast," Cockheran said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Although the Warriors have tape of Appalachian State from last year, when the Mountaineers went 8-4, there's an element of the unknown surrounding the perennial Division I-AA playoff team.

But Cockheran said he and the rest of the receivers are confident. As is the entire team.

"We have a real good idea of what they do defensively," he said. "We know what we're doing, and everybody runs the same defenses, you just have to catch on to what they're doing quickly. If they throw something at us, we'll be ready."


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