finally gets Sample
of end zone
Even better, his parents and little
brother were in attendance for
his special moment at MSU
It's been a long and sometimes treacherous path, but Ian Sample finally found his way to the end zone last Saturday.
The Hawaii receiver had his patience tested during his college career, but the fifth-year senior persevered to earn a starting spot with the Warriors and scored his first touchdown last week against Michigan State.
"It doesn't sound good when your first collegiate touchdown is in your fifth year," Sample said. "But, hey, I got there and hopefully there will be better things to come."
His big moment was made even more special considering it was the first time his parents and younger brother were able to watch him play in person as a Warrior.
Sample caught four passes for 58 yards and scored on a 16-yard pass from Colt Brennan in the fourth quarter of the 42-14 loss to the Spartans. He nearly had another touchdown later in the game, but officials ruled that his foot landed out of bounds as he made a catch along the sideline.
"If I didn't have my dad's feet, these size 13s," he said, looking down at his shoes, "maybe if I had size 10s I would have gotten in."
With eight receptions for 111 yards in two games, Sample has already eclipsed his career totals entering the season.
Sample spent one season at Delaware and Bergen College in New Jersey before transferring to UH in 2003.
After a year on the scout team, Sample played in four games last season and caught seven passes for 71 yards. He appeared ready to assume a more prominent role in the rotation when a broken collarbone ended his season.
After letting his shoulder heal, Sample set his sights on earning a job in a receiver corps that lost all four starters from last year.
"The USC game was the first game where I felt like I was back to my high school days, just catch the ball, not think about it, make a move and make some plays," he said. "I've got one last year, I'm giving it my all."
Davone Bess also snagged his first touchdown as a Warrior, although the play didn't unfold quite as designed. Brennan's pass was tipped by a Michigan State linebacker and fell into Bess' hands at the goal line, where he hung on despite a jarring hit.
"As everyone saw, it was a fluke, but it felt good just to know that I helped the team put some points on the board," Bess said. "It felt good to get my first collegiate touchdown, but there will be many more."
After getting off to a tentative start in the opener against USC, Bess caught six passes for 62 yards on Saturday and said he's feeling more comfortable in the offense.
"Now I look at college football in a whole other way," he said. "I'm getting more confident. Going into the USC game I was really timid, not as confident as I am now."
With four new faces in the starting lineup, the UH receivers have taken some time to get into a rhythm with two new quarterbacks in Brennan and Tyler Graunke. But the Warriors feel things are starting to come together as they approach next week's Western Athletic Conference opener at Idaho.
Ryan Grice-Mullen, starting in place of injured slotback Jason Ferguson, has caught a team-high 12 passes in the first two games. Ross Dickerson leads UH with 141 yards and is averaging 20 yards per catch.
"We definitely made some big strides and everyone out there is creating a role for themselves," Brennan said. "Each receiver is starting to create a threat.
"The receivers have a ton of responsibility because they're not given a set route. They're told to run and adjust to what the defense is doing and find the open spot. They're doing a great job of making good decisions and learning."
Deep bench: Where depth is important on the field, it can also be handy on the coaching staff.
With UH head coach June Jones spending a couple of days on the mainland on his way back from Michigan, he had the luxury of turning the offense over to assistant coach Darrel "Mouse" Davis, one of the pioneers of the run-and-shoot.
Davis said Jones will be back for this afternoon's practice and they discussed what the head coach wanted covered yesterday.
With a bye this week, some of the UH reserves got more work in the team's 90-minute afternoon workout.
"I talked to him earlier today, and we hit a little on the goal line (offense) and some of the kids who haven't been getting reps got some and that's good for them," Davis said.
On the mend: With some time to rest before the Idaho game, several Warrior starters spent yesterday observing practice.
Brennan said his sore right shoulder will be fine for next week's game. Others taking "mental reps" included offensive lineman Dane Uperesa, defensive linemen Ikaika Alama-Francis and Tony Akpan, linebackers Tanuvasa Moe and Brad Kalilimoku, and cornerback Kenny Patton.
Party time: The UH alumni association will host a homecoming celebration on Oct. 13 at Gordon Biersch at Aloha Tower Marketplace. Jones, UH athletic director Herman Frazier and defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville will attend the event leading up to the homecoming game against New Mexico State on Oct. 15.
Tickets are $20 ($15 for UHAA members). For more information, call the Office of Alumni Relations at 956-2586.