SB FILE / OCT. 2004
Hawaii's Nkeruwem Akpan brings down San Jose State's Tyson Thompson in the second quarter at Aloha Stadium.

Akpan in
the middle

The former basketball player
is being considered for Hawaii’s
nose tackle spot

The bugaboo for many basketball-to-football converts is the inability to deal with intense physical contact. That's never been a problem for Nkeruwem "Tony" Akpan, and it is one of the reasons he's getting a long look at nose tackle as Hawaii closes in on its season-opening game Saturday against top-ranked Southern California.

Renolds Fruean is listed as UH starter on the depth chart released yesterday, but he is out with a hip flexor and is listed as probable. Coach June Jones and defensive line assistant Vantz Singletary said Akpan, who has been playing football less than three years, could end up being the starter.

"He's very powerful, with really long arms and he's relentless," Jones said of the 6-foot-6, 294-pound senior who played defensive end the past two seasons after two years on the UH basketball team.

Singletary said Akpan is definitely tough enough.

"Tony took a lot of shots today. He's my project. He plays with good hands," Singletary said. "I just think he can run. Pad level's always an issue with a guy his height. But he's shown he can strike, he can get off blocks, he can bat balls. He has some ability, he has some talent."

Akpan said keeping low to avoid being blocked in the legs is his biggest challenge playing in the heart of the line.

"It's not easy at my height, something I just have to be aware of. It's something I have to keep working on," Akpan said.

Singletary said it's "a toss-up," with Akpan, juniors Fruean and Reagan Mauai and second-year freshman Fale Laeli in the mix to start.

Junior Lawrence Wilson could also get in the mix once he is cleared by the NCAA, and Jones said true freshman Rocky Savaiigaea has a chance to play this year.

In other developments:

» Senior slotback Nate Ilaoa completed a climb from the doghouse back to starting status. He is listed No. 1 at the Y slot.

"Nate will play if he's healthy," Jones said.

Davone Bess, listed as No. 2 behind Jason Ferguson at the H slot, will also play.

Ilaoa reported to camp at 248 pounds, drawing Jones' ire. On the second day, Ilaoa strained a hamstring. UH's most experienced and oft-injured receiver returned to workouts last week.

"I was thinking about a lot of personal stuff this summer. I had to get my mind right. Am I putting all of it in, or half of it in? I finally got my head on straight. I gotta just give it all I can right now with the time I've got," said Ilaoa, who is down to 230 pounds.

» Junior starting cornerback Kenny Patton is listed as doubtful after arthroscopic knee surgery last Monday. He was re-habbing yesterday, but it is unlikely he can play Saturday. He is third on the depth chart behind Keao Monteilh and Turmarian Moreland.

» Jones said yesterday there is "no change" in the status of quarterbacks Tyler Graunke and Colt Brennan. He has consistently said Graunke is No. 1, but both will play against USC.

Brennan took most of the first-team reps yesterday.

» Junior kicker Nolan Miranda participated in practice for the first time this season. He left the team after spring camp, but was allowed to come back after resolving a personal issue. True freshman Dan Kelly is the starting kicker.

"I've been in this situation before," said Miranda, a walk-on who played in 2003 when Justin Ayat slumped. "Daniel's a good kicker, but anything can happen. I just gotta keep practicing."

» Junior starting left tackle Tala Esera has returned to practice. He missed two days last week with a stiff back.

» True freshman safety B.J. Fruean sprained an ankle yesterday and is day to day. So is backup senior quarterback Kainoa Akina after he sprained an ankle Friday.

No. 2 outside linebacker C.J. Allen-Jones is doubtful with an ankle sprain, freshman defensive lineman Clarence Tuioti-Mariner is doubtful with a sprained left knee, and sophomore running back Chris Cole is out with a shoulder sprain.

» USC arrives Thursday night. Among the Trojans will be true freshman linebacker Kaluka Maiava, linebackers coach Ken Norton, Jr., said. The Baldwin High School graduate will play on special teams.


1. Tyler Graunke, 5-11, 175, Fr. OR Colt Brennan, 6-3, 190, So.
1. Bryan Maneafaiga, 5-9, 200, Sr. 2. Kala Latuselu, 5-11, 218, Jr.
1. Ian Sample, 5-10, 189, Sr. 2. Michael Washington, 5-7, 160, Fr.
1. Jason Ferguson, 5-5, 163, So. 2. Davone Bess, 5-10, 187, Fr.
1. Nate Ilaoa, 5-9, 248, Sr. 2. Ryan Grice-Mullen, 5-10, 174, Fr.
1. Ross Dickerson, 5-10, 185, Jr. 2. Dylan Linkner, 6-0, 191, Fr.
1. Dane Uperesa, 6-5, 331, Jr. 2. Keoni Steinhoff, 6-3, 262, Fr.
1. Brandon Eaton, 6-2, 297, Sr. 2. Marques Kaonohi, 6-1, 261, Jr.
1. Derek Fa'avi, 6-1, 273, Sr. 2. Samson Satele, 6-3, 311, Jr.
1. Samson Satele, 6-3, 311, Jr. 2. Hercules Satele, 6-2, 302, So.
1. Tala Esera, 6-3, 295, Jr. 2. Keith Ah-Soon, 6-1, 309, Fr.


1. Kila Kamakawiwo'ole, 6-3, 237, Sr. 2. C.J. Allen-Jones, 6-2, 219, So.
1. Melila Purcell, 6-5, 266, Sr. 2. Karl Noa, 6-4, 240, So.
1. Renolds Fruean, 6-4, 275, Jr. 2. Fale Laeli, 6-2, 311, Fr.
1. Ikaika Alama-Francis, 6-5, 260, Jr. 2. Jake Ingram, 6-4, 226, Fr.
1. Tanuvasa Moe, 6-0, 225, Sr. 2. Tyson Kafentzis, 6-1, 215, Fr.
1. Ikaika Curnan, 5-10, 242, Sr. 2. Timo Paepule, 6-0, 246, So.
1. Brad Kalilimoku, 5-10, 204, So. 2. Solomon Elimimian, 5-11, 224, Fr.
1. Ryan Keomaka, 5-10, 168, So. 2. Omega Hogan, 5-10, 169, Sr.
1. Leonard Peters, 6-1, 199, Sr. 2. Lamar Broadway, 6-0, 186, Sr.
1. Lono Manners, 5-10, 199, Sr. 2. Landon Kafentzis, 6-0, 202, Sr.
1. Keao Monteilh, 5-11, 170, So. 2. Turmarian Moreland, 6-0, 186, Sr. 3. Kenny Patton, 6-0, 184, Jr.


1. Kurt Milne, 5-11, 208, Jr. 2. Jeremy Shibata, 5-8, 223, Fr.
1. Dan Kelly, 6-3, 199, Fr. 2. Jeremy Shibata, 5-8, 223, Fr.
1. Jason Ferguson, 5-5, 163, So. 2. Davone Bess, 5-10, 187, Fr.
1. Michael Washington, 5-7, 160, Fr. 2. Bryan Maneafaiga, 5-9, 200, Sr.
1. Tanuvasa Moe, 6-0, 225, Sr.
1. Kurt Milne, 5-11, 208, Jr.

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