Pilares enjoys hitting the weights


POSTED: Friday, August 21, 2009

Kealoha Pilares wasn't a big fan of the weight room in high school.

It didn't take long for his outlook to change once he got to college.

“;The first practice, seeing all these big guys,”; Pilares said. “;I told myself I have to get better, just have to put some muscle on these bones.”;

A relatively slight 175 pounds when he graduated from Damien, Pilares checked in for fall camp this month at around 200 pounds, having developed an appreciation for lifting since joining the Hawaii football program.

“;I just like working out; it kind of gets your mind off of everything else,”; the junior slotback said. “;It's kind of a natural high. Just working out in the morning, starting your day off right.

“;It's been helping me a lot in my game, just being stronger. I've increased my speed and just being able to withstand some of the hits.”;

Pilares weighed 190 pounds during his freshman season in 2007, when he started two games at running back and led the Warriors in rushing. He began last season as a receiver, but shifted to running back when injuries depleted the backfield. He ended up splitting time between the spots while working through a foot injury in the second half of the season.

This time around, he's a full-time slotback eager to put his offseason gains to use on the field.

He spent three weeks in Georgia training with safety Spencer Smith, working with a trainer Smith recommended.

Smith, a contender for a starting job in the secondary, said they concentrated on “;acceleration stuff, a lot of form, because that's where your speed comes, from learning how to run. Sleds, resistance, a lot of balance, things that will help you on the football field.”;

Likewise, Pilares prefers lifts that carry over to the game during his weight room sessions these days.

“;I really like cleans, because I think it's a full-body workout,”; Pilares said. “;You have to have technique and you just have to be really explosive. I think that lift really transfers onto the field more than anything else. The bench press or a regular squat is not really going to transfer onto the field.”;

Pilares said concern that adding bulk would cut into his agility contributed to his resistance to lifting in high school. But he bought into UH strength coach Mel DeLaura's program as he worked to gain size and strength while remaining nimble.

The emphasis has enhanced his burst when he catches the ball, and he hopes his added strength will translate into more broken tackles and yards after the catch.

“;I can tell now when he runs routes you have to wrap up, he has a lot of power when he runs,”; Smith said. “;He's improved a lot with his strength and to have the same agility, he's a dangerous guy.”;


Scrimmage today

With two weeks to go before the season opener, the Warriors face what amounts to a midterm exam today.

The Warriors are scheduled to close this morning's practice with a scrimmage of between 60 and 70 plays, including full-speed special teams work (without full tackling on the kick returners).

“;It really makes it a big deal for special teams and backup positions and some starting positions,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said. “;There are a lot of guys that are still slashed (on the depth chart). We should know next week who we can win with. It's a big evaluation day.”;

McMackin said the first units will probably play a couple of series, though he plans to give starting quarterback Greg Alexander a break.

“;We've been throwing him a bunch, so we're probably going to rest his arm, but we want to make up our mind between the other quarterbacks,”; McMackin said.


Back in action

Safety Kenny Estes returned to practice yesterday after missing three days due to a strain in his shoulder. He hurt it last Saturday and is part of the tight competition for a starting job in the secondary.

“;It's just a little tender, but everything was good,”; said Estes, who had an interception in the team period.


Earlier start for tailgating

Parking gates at Aloha Stadium will open 1 hour earlier than last year for UH home games this season. The Lower Halawa Lot will open 5 1/2 hours before kickoff. All other lots will open 4 1/2 hours prior to kickoff. Turnstiles open 3 hours before the games.

“;With the parking gates opening an hour earlier, we hope this enhances our fans' tailgating experience,”; athletic director Jim Donovan said. “;We're also hopeful this will alleviate some of the traffic around the stadium leading up to kickoff. We're glad Aloha Stadium management accommodated this request and we hope our fans take advantage of the extra tailgate time while at the same time acting responsibly. We'll try this out for a year and will evaluate it if it was successful.”;