coaches at linebacker
Paul Lutu-Carroll took a chance by transferring to the University of Hawaii last year and appears on his way to making the gamble pay off.
Lutu-Carroll joined the UH program a year ago, moving back home after playing at Dakota State for two years. After a year on the UH scout team and with one season of eligibility left, Lutu-Carroll is now pushing to end his college career as a starter at linebacker with the Warriors' defense.
"This is it right here; it's all on the line now," Lutu-Carroll said.
Lutu-Carroll originally attended Wayne State after graduating from Damien in 2000. He transferred to Dakota State, located in Madison, S.D., after one semester and earned all-conference honors as a sophomore.
He knew moving to UH might cost him a year of playing time, but decided it was worth the risk to get an opportunity to play in front of his family.
"I was trying to get another year back, but I guess that wasn't possible," he said. "I just took that chance."
Lutu-Carroll (6 feet, 215 pounds) played safety last season but was shifted to outside linebacker during spring practice. He quickly caught the attention of the coaches in the spring and lined up with the Warriors' first unit during yesterday afternoon's practice
"He's been probably the biggest surprise," UH head coach June Jones said. "I think he's got a chance to start for us. He's a good football player.
"His speed is definitely something that helps. He can run and he'll hit you."
Lutu-Carroll, who played linebacker at Dakota State, is part of a new-look defense as the Warriors try to replace 13 letterwinners, including nine starters.
Although he has the early edge in the competition for a starting job, Lutu-Carroll is focused on trying to maintain his hold on the position through the rest of fall camp.
"We're all out here to work hard and try to be a starter," Lutu-Carroll said. "So I'm not going to come out here and work hard just to sit on the side."
On the mend: Ikaika Alama-Francis now has a scholarship with the football team, but he won't be on the field for a while.
Alama-Francis, a sophomore defensive end, is recovering from surgery to repair a disk in his back. He said he's not sure when the injury occurred, but his back had been bothering him for a while and he finally decided to have surgery last week. He said there isn't a firm timetable for his return to practice, adopting a wait-and-see approach to his recovery.
"When the doctors feel I'm ready and I feel I'm ready, I'll be back out there. I'm going to try to be back as soon as I can," Alama-Francis said.
"You train for the football season and it's unfortunate that this happened, but there's nothing you can do about it."
Alama-Francis, a walk-on with the UH basketball team, tried out for football in the spring of 2003 in hopes of earning a scholarship, which he was recently awarded. Punter Kurt Milne and defensive lineman Karl Noa were also put on scholarship this season.
Alama-Francis was listed at 6-foot-6, 215 pounds last year, but has since bulked up to 245.
"He's worked really hard and gained a lot of weight in the offseason," Jones said. "He's got a chance to be a real good player."
Offensive lineman Uriah Moenoa also stayed out of yesterday's drills to rest a sore knee. He said he hurt the knee running in the offseason and is taking it easy early in fall camp as a precaution.
Name game: Freshman linebacker C.J. Allen-Jones has a simple explanation for changing his name from Carl Stokes.
"Allen is my mother's maiden name, and Jones is my stepfather's last name. I want to pay respect to my stepfather, he got me through high school and kept me focused," he said.
Stokes mother is of Samoan ancestry, and that's one of the reasons he chose Hawaii over Penn State, Michigan, Virginia and Mississippi.
"I want to take it back to the roots, and coach June Jones is giving me a great opportunity to show I can play right away," he said.