Sunday musings

April 20th, 2014

Joyous Easter to all.

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Thoughts this Sunday:

> The coaches are sticking to their promise of not naming a No. 1 quarterback until this August. That keeps the competition fair to Taylor Graham, who continues to rehab a surgically repaired shoulder; to Beau Reilly, who has been a spectator at spring practices and officially joins in  June; to perhaps USC's Max Wittek and the other FBS quarterbacks who have expressed interest in transferring to UH. It also is important that Ikaika Woolsey has made significant steps to playing as a No. 1 quarterback. It is one thing to have an open competition; it is another to have competitive competition. Woolsey is showing he can be a quarterback who can run this offense effectively. Whether he is named No. 1 or not, at least a standard is being set.

> There are at least four QBs from FBS programs who have expressed interest in transferring to Hawaii, which remains an attractive destination.

> It started as an experiment, but Ben Clarke and Kody Afusia are thriving at their new positions. Both have high football IQs and solid techniques, particularly agile footwork. Clark, who started at center during his 24-game UH career, seems like a natural at left tackle. It's an art to snapping and then firing into a block. Now, Clarke said, "I just have to focus on making plays." The past year, Afusia has emerged as a leader. He usually leads every running drill involving the linemen. Afusia has mediated disputes, unified a line that is diverse culturally and chronologically, and set a no-bitching standard. Plus, he's vocal, making him a logical choice to play center. That's also the position Afusia was recruited to play.

> In a by-the-numbers system, blitzes will originate from the edges. But defensive coordinator Kevin Clune's system is anything but predictable. And that's why yesterday's best blitzer was inside linebacker Tevita Lataimua, who had four backfield tackles, including two sacks. "If the outside guys are doing their job and keeping the guys in, then we can do our job," Lataimua said. "If we can force them to the outside, (the outside linebackers) can do their thing." Clune noted the one tendency is there are no tendencies. "We're going to bring people from everywhere," Clune said. "We're going to do a lot of different stuff. Everyone has that potential to bring pressure to the quarterback. When the time comes and your number is called, you have to make the most of it." Lataimua answered the call yesterday.

> Here's a pop quiz: Name as many DBs in 10 seconds. Time's up. Bet you forgot to name Mike Martin. This spring, Martin has filled in for injured safety Marrell Jackson, worked shifts at nickelback, and played on every special-team unit. He brings a workmanlike approach to every practice. The coaches were paying attention. Martin has been awarded a football scholarship. It goes into effect in June.

> Belated congratulations to tight end Harold Moleni and his wife. They're proud parents of 1-week-old son Genesis. "It was life-changing,"  Moleni said of the birth. "It was a special moment." Fatherhood, he said, "makes you want to be a better man." They chose the Biblical name because it means "the beginning." He said: "It works with our faith."

> Kudos to athletic director Ben Jay for announcing that prices will not increase for season-ticket renewals. The next step should be to start renewal sales right now. This is spring ball. There's some good feelings. And many tax refunds should be showing up in the mail right now. It would be a good strategy for the postman to be delivering renewal forms at the same time.

> I had a dream that the blog's type size got larger.

QB to join Warriors as walk-on

April 19th, 2014


Quarterback Eric Prater, who spent the past few years in the U.S. Army Airborne Special Forces, will be joining the Rainbow Warriors as a walk-on this summer.

Prater is 6-2 and about 210 pounds.

Prater, who is 23, will  have four years to play four UH seasons.

He was a pitcher at Lake Havasu (Wash.) High, with a fastball timed at 92 mph, before playing football as a senior.

He was on Northern Arizona's roster in 2010, but did not play in any games, before enlisting in the Army.

Prater has been attending spring practices as a spectator.

Here are his highlights: Prater video.

(C'mon, admit it, after that first throw you thought,  "Wow.")

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I ran into Alika Smith last night. His son Jalen is 6 feet 3. Jalen is in the eighth grade.

And the 2018 recruiting class begins to take shape …

Mililani O-lineman chooses UH

April 18th, 2014

Mililani offensive lineman Jordan Agasiva is the first local prospect to commit to the Rainbow Warriors' 2015 recruiting class. He was named to the Division I all-state team in 2013. Here's what Agasiva's pledge means:

> Vitals: Agasiva is 6-4 and 280. Mililani coach Rod York said Agasiva did not relinquish a sack in 2013. York said, when needed, Agasiva has held a block for as long as 8 seconds.

> The love: "I think he's the best o-lineman in the state," York said.

> Intangibles: "When you look at his highlight tapes, right away you can tell what type of player he is," York said. "He's aggressive. He's physical. He finishes. He loves being an o-lineman."

> You be the judge: Agasiva videos

> Joint effort: Mililani actually falls in defensive coordinator Kevin Clune's recruiting area, but this was group recruiting that also involved o-line coach Chris Naeole, linebacker coach Kurt Gouveia, quarterback coach Jordan Wynn and d-line coach Lewis Powell. York said: "He believes in coach Chow."

> Roster impact: Agasiva will help boost a unit that will lose five seniors at the end of this coming season: Sean Shigematsu, Kody Afusia, Frank Loyd Jr., Dave Lefotu and David Griffin. Afusia and Lefotu have been with the No. 1 unit this spring. Tavita Eli, who signed in February, joins the Warriors in June. Gus Lavaka joins in January after completing a church mission.

Tight situation

April 17th, 2014

Every scrimmage-like session last week, tight end Jordan Pu‘u-Robinson  caught a touchdown pass or made a sensational play. Twice, he made sensational plays on touchdown catches.

All of which the coaches kept mum.

Pu‘u-Robinson is smart, works hard and is well-liked. But similar to the silent treatment given to a pitcher throwing a no-hitter, nobody wanted to jinx his seemingly good health. Because of injuries, he had missed all or parts of 22 of 24 games since transferring from Washington State in August 2012.

Pu‘u-Robinson suffered a broken finger this week and is expected to need four weeks of rehabilitation. Spring training ends April 26. Pu‘u-Robinson's injury prompted Tui Unga to end his tryout at defensive end after one practice and return to tight end.

Still, the Warriors should be in good shape this summer at that position. Pu‘u-Robinson will be healthy. Harold Moleni, who recently became a father, has experience as a starter. Unga has played well there at times. Josh Long has recovered from injuries that forced him to redshirt in 2013. Justin Vele also can play tight end. And Dakota Torres joins the mix this summer.


X marks the spot for former Warrior

April 16th, 2014

"Who knew I'd be going to Japan?" former UH defensive tackle Kaniela Tuipulotu marveled.

Tuipulotu signed with the Asahi Soft Drink Challengers to play in this fall's X League in Japan. He leaves next month. Former UH defensive lineman Saui Matagiese will be a teammate.

On playing for a beverage company, Tuipulotu mused: "Perfect. A match made in heaven."

Actually, Tuipulotu has cut out sweets and is adhering to a healthful diet. He dropped more than 50 pounds since his final game with the Warriors in 2011, and now weighs 255. His surgically repaired shoulder has long healed.

Tuipulotu also will leave behind an MMA career in which he was 2-0 as an amateur fighter. He said he went into that sport only to get "that rush again."

Tuipuloto said the X season runs from August through December. The company will pay for all his living expenses except food. He also will receive a $3,000 monthly stipend.

"That's more than a scholarship," he said. "I lived on a scholarship. I can make it happen again."

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Former Kealakehe coach Sam Papalii offers this update:

David Fangupo is enrolled at Cerritos JC. He lives with two former teammates from 2012 championship team — Giovanni Chanes-Rodrigues (6-1, 300) and Jerone Moeoge (6-2, 340). Fangupo is the No. 1 nose guard who also will be used as a short-yardage ball-carrier. Chanes-Rodrigues made the 2013 all-conference team. He has received 2015 scholarship as a center from UAB and North Texas. Moeoge is in the d-line rotation.