Senior QB Tim Chang is one player assured of his starting spot heading into practice this week.

Many positions contested
as UH’s fall camp opens

Here is a position-by-position look at Hawaii football the day before UH's first practice:

Senior Tim Chang is the Western Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year and a cinch to break the NCAA career passing-yardage record, barring injury.

Top contenders for the No. 2 spot by the time the season starts are incoming freshman Taylor Humphrey and second-year freshman Jack Rolovich, although the more experienced Kainoa Akina, a junior, is the backup going into camp.

Two other freshmen, Brandon Satcher and Tyler Graunke, will get reps in camp. Fourth-year junior Jeff Rhode knows the system, and won't practice until the roster expands with the start of school in two weeks.

This could have been a dangerously thin area, as two of the three returning starters, seniors Michael Bass and West Keli'ikipi, faced suspension until last week. But both have been cleared of their off-field problems, and will share time with Michael Brewster, another senior, in the one-back offense. Sophomore Kala Latuselu will also compete for PT.

Offensive line
Loads of youthful, yet experienced, talent here. The starting five going into camp from left to right are sophomore Tala Esera, sophomore Samson Satele, junior Derek Faavi, senior Uriah Moenoa and junior Brandon Eaton. They accounted for 58 of the team's 70 starts on the OL last fall. Sophomores Jeremy Inferrera and Dane Uperesa at the tackles, and freshmen Michael Lafaele, Hercules Satele and Larry Sauafea, and senior Phil Kauffman at the middle three spots, are not far behind.

Left wideout Jason Rivers and Y slot Nate Ilaoa, both sophomores, are proven playmakers, but will have to fight for their starting positions, as junior Ian Sample and senior Se'e Poumele have impressed coach June Jones. Senior H slot Chad Owens had one of the best seasons among all receivers nationally last year, despite missing two games with a suspension. Sophomore Ross Dickerson completed a successful move to right wideout in the spring, but he will be pushed by senior Britton Komine, among others. Komine is a proven commodity and he's versatile, so he'll probably end up starting somewhere. Then there's speedy true freshman Andrew Pearman, who will get a look at wideout before probably moving to running back next season.

Keep an eye on true freshman wide receiver Desmond Thomas, junior wideout Marcus Weems and second-year freshman slot Patrick Olchovy. ... Junior running back Bryan Maneafaiga (known as Bryan Hinton last year) played his way into camp with a tremendous spring. ... Don't forget about senior slot Gerald Welch; he's a gamer.

Talent here, but mostly untested. Sixth-year senior Lui Fuga and fifth-year senior Matt Faga are vets at tackle, but they've also missed time because of injuries. Their health could be key to the whole defense, especially since the D-tackle depth took a hit when Abu Ma'afala left the team and JC transfer Austin Jackson never joined it. Junior end Mel Purcell has all the tools, and now he'll get the playing time to fully develop them. On the other side, junior Tony Akpan could become a devastating pass rusher, but the question is if he can stop the run. Second-year freshman Karl Noa has beefed up, and junior Kila Kamakawiwo'ole is a smart player who might see some action.

Junior Ikaika Curnan was moved to the middle so he can make even more plays after leading the Warriors with 121 tackles last year. His wingmen are anyone's guess, but speedy true freshmen Khevin Peoples and C.J. Allen-Jones will get a look. Fifth-year senior Chad Kapanui might start, and will definitely play a lot in running situations -- such as the entire Rice game. Senior Lincoln Manutai played in all 13 games last year.

Senior Abraham Elimimian has one corner locked up, and the other side will be very competitive, with third-year sophomore Kenny Patton, junior-college transfer Turmarian Moreland and second-year freshman Ray Bass among those in the mix. Junior safety Leonard Peters is one of the team's most athletic players, and he will be paired with hard-hitting junior Lamar Broadway for openers. Junior Lono Manners and senior Patrick Jenkins will get reps, too.

Freshman tackles Fale Laeli and Keala Watson are solid 300-pounders who might be strong enough to make early impacts. ... Sophomore Kahai LaCount, a converted O-lineman, looked great last spring. ... Senior Paul Lutu-Carroll could emerge as a starter at weakside linebacker after moving from safety. ... Arizona transfer junior linebacker Landon Kafentzis reportedly hits as hard as his father and uncles who played for UH.

Kicker Justin Ayat lost his job to walk-on Nolan Miranda last season. Ayat, UH's second-leading all-time scorer, is now a senior and Miranda a sophomore. Sophomore punter Kurt Milne came out of nowhere last fall, and helped win the Alabama game by consistently pinning the Tide in bad field position, with the help of gunner Omega Hogan. Owens will return punts and most kicks, and Pearman, who was electronically timed at 10.3 in the 100 meters, might get to run back some kickoffs, too. Junior-college transfer Bryce Runge was recruited specifically for snapping duties.

Former quarterback Ryan Stickler is trying his hand at running back. There's a long line there, but coaches predict the third-year sophomore will be a hellacious special teams player.

Newly-hired special teams coordinator Mouse Davis could have a huge impact on more than the kicking game. He might be the only person with as much, or more, run-and-shoot expertise as Jones. Student assistants Kurt Gouveia and Nick Rolovich aren't allowed to coach, but the daily presence of a guy with two Super Bowl rings and another who bombed BYU for 72 points certainly can't hurt.



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