Archive for April, 2011

Salas to the Rams, Pilares to the Panthers

April 30th, 2011
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Mom cried.

Dad yelled.

And former UH receiver Greg Salas yelled even louder after being the St. Louis Rams' fourth-round selection in today's NFL draft.

"This is a dream come true," Salas said during the family celebration.

His father, Mark, was raised in Southern California and has cheered for the Rams most of his life. Greg Salas grew up rooting for the Raiders. "Now I'm a Rams' fan," he said.

"I want to thank everyone in Hawaii — Kealoha (Pilares), Mo, the linemen, the other receivers, the coaches," Salas said.

Salas' parents accompanied him on his recruiting trip in January 2006.

"Hawaii will always be special to our family," Mark Salas said. "It's very special to Greg. Hawaii won't be our last destination. Hawaii will always be our first destination."

Last year's 112th pick received a signing bonus of $572,000.

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And Kealoha Pilares has been selected by the Carolina Panthers.

Just spoke with Pilares. He was emotional when talking about his teammates, coaches (especially Rich Miano), parents, Shane Austin's dad and the fans who befriended him on Facebook. He said Miano helped him after he received a release from the Air Force Academy. He said Austin's dad, who is a motivational mentor, provided encouragement during his rehab from the knee injury.

Last year's 132nd pick received a signing bonus of  $215,512, which is a numerical palindrome.

A copule of hours after being drafted, Pilares was back in the gym, under the guidance of his trainer, Barry Toyama:

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Green to Titletown

April 29th, 2011
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With the next-to-last pick of the third round, the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers picked former UH running back Alex Green.

Green's mother, Phyllis Smith, said they were ready to call it a night with a few picks remaining in the round. But then Green's name "popped up on the (TV) screen. ... We yelled so much I think we woke up the entire neighborhood."

Green was picking up his daughter, Harlym, at her mother's house when he received a call from the Packers.

"Are you having a good day?" Green said he was asked.

Green reponded: "Yes."

"It's about to get better," he was told.

Soon after, the Packers announced their selection on the ESPN2 telecast.

Green was selected with the 96th pick. The Cincinnati Bengals took cornerback Brandon Ghee with the 96th pick in the 2010 draft. Ghee signed a four-year contract, with a signing bonus of $648,000.

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Of course, facilities and academic services are important.

But as high school counselors always say: If you want to go to college, you'll find a way to go to college. It might take 40 years or on-line classes (or, in the case of one of my kids, a History 150 class on channel 55). This is America. Everybody has a chance to go to college. But not many get to attend on a football scholarship.

And every college football player — no matter what size, shape or medical history — harbors, at some point, the NFL dream. And why not? Early in his UH career, James Fenderson was a walk-on living in his car. He ended up playing in the NFL. Lawrence Wilson was the fifth nose tackle on a depth chart that went only three deep. He ended up as the last cut in the Baltimore Ravens' training camp.

With stars in their eyes, recruits are aware of which college programs can lead to NFL rosters. The Warriors' staff includes guys who have played in the NFL (Rich Miano, Ashley Lelie) and coached there (Greg McMackin, Dick Tomey, Mouse Davis). Offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich and running backs coach Brian Smith were in NFL training camps. The Warriors try to help. They run practices the way the pros do. They host scouts for an on-campus junior day. They stage an annual pro day. The biggest sellers, though, are the players who are drafted. And that, of course, is where Greg Salas and Alex Green can shape the future of UH recruiting. We'll find out today and tomorrow.

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There isn't much of a difference between Salas' performances against BCS and non-BCS opponents. As a starting slotback, Salas averaged 8.6 catches per game against non-BCS teams. His BCS average was 6.75. But against BCS teams, he averaged 16.44 yards per reception; against non-BCS, his average was 15.32.

Feeling the draft

April 28th, 2011
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In their circles, there's optimism that former UH receiver Greg Salas and running back Alex Green might be selected as early as tomorrow, when the NFL conducts the second and third rounds of the draft.

More than 20 teams have remained in constant contact with Salas. And yesterday, the New England Patriots met with Green in his home in Portland.

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Former UH safety Spencer Smith is exploring options beyond a playing career.

By not signing with an agent, Smith remains on UH scholarship. He earned a bachelor's degree last summer, and is taking online classes toward a master's degree.

He also has been hired as an assistant coach in charge of defensive backs at his alma mater, Kell High in Georgia. Kell opens spring practice May 9.

Smith is in a program in which he is allowed to teach at Kell and draw a coach's salary as long as he works toward earning a master's degree in a five-year period.

"This is my primary plan if football doesn't happen," Smith said.

As for the approach of spring practice, Smith said, "I'm excited, nervous. It'll be a good experience. I learned a lot from coach (Rich) Miano on DBs. I'll probably call him up and ask him for advice."

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With two weeks remaining in the spring semester, the Warriors already have started their offseason conditioning program.

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Linebacker Aulola Tonga, who redshirted in 2010, is now the backup buck linebacker to Aaron Brown. Because of his long vertical hair, one of his teammates called him Bu Laia. And, yes, Tonga remembered him.

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Defensive end Alema Tachibana ties up loose ends:

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As a precaution, the trainers fitted linebacker Corey Paredes with this wrapping. He will be 100 percent this summer:

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Defensive end Liko Satele, who missed the second half of spring ball because of a forearm injury, also should be fully healthy in a few weeks:

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Defensive tackle Haku Correa sports a barbell spike in his left ear lobe:

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The party doesn't start until the arrival of defensive leader Kaniela Tuipulotu:

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Quarterback Shane Austin participated in the workout:

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One of the drills is the backward toss-and-sprint involving a medicine ball. Here's defensive back Mike Sellers:

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The drill is supposed to be good for core strengthening. Here's kicker Tyler Hadden:

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Why do they call it a medicine ball?

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Here's proof that BG can fly:

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Now let him into the Letter Winners Club!!!

Wednesday ramblings

April 27th, 2011
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• Two former Warriors — linebacker Brashton Satele of the New York Jets and center John Estes of the Jacksonville Jaguars — are training in Arizona while awaiting a permanent resolution to the NFL labor dispute. While camps might or might not be open because of the injunction, the two players have been instructed to stay put.

• Offensive lineman Kainoa LaCount also is working out in Arizona. He was contacted by the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons.

• Offensive lineman Adrian Thomas, who was training in Arizona, had to return to his native Australia to renew his travel visa. Thomas, who was on a student visa while playing for the Warriors, earned a bachelor's degree in December.

• The volleyball Warriors will suffer a significant loss with the  expected departure of student assistant Robyn Ah Mow, who earns her bachelor's degree next month. Ah Mow, an Olympic medalist, was a key member of Charlie Wade's coaching staff, offering keen observations, fiery competitiveness and administrative efficiency. Wade expects Ah Mow to be hired to a college coaching staff.

• After missing 20 school days because of travel in 2010, the football team has been exploring the option of returning to Hawaii between the road games Sept. 10 at Washington and Sept. 17 at UNLV. As Ferd Lewis reported in today's paper, seats on commercial flights to Vegas are filling up. Instead of mulling — and this has been discussed since November — why not just book as many Vegas seats as possible now. The entire team doesn't have to travel together. The main thing is that everyone is present for the walk-through practice.

• If I were in charge of a university in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I would give my head football coach a two-year extension at $1 million per. But the payout would be  stretched over eight years. The coach would get his money and, at $250,000 per year, would have a smaller tax bill. Consider it an IRA plan: After the contract extension expired, he would receive a quarter million a year for the next six years. The per-year savings for the first two years would help get the school through these difficult financial times. And part of the savings could be put into a CD, of which the interest could help pay for the remaining contract. What I wouldn't do is, say, reduce his salary with the difference to be made up by meeting incentives. If, say, an additional $400,000 or $500,000 could be earned by winning a certain number of games, that money has to be held aside should the team meet those goals. What's more, it puts the school in the position of rooting against the team to save money. That's never a good idea.

Looking ahead

April 26th, 2011
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The outline of the Warriors' 2012 recruiting class is being shaped this week.

This is considered to be an evaluation period during which coaches may assess a prospect's football talent and academic records. A school is permitted one call a week to the prospect during this period, but may not have in-person contact.

Embracing technology, the coaches are reviewing highlight DVDs and YouTube links.

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It should be quite a show as UH, Nevada and Fresno State enter their final year of WAC membership. It is appropriate that the WAC Football Media Preview will be staged in Las Vegas in July. (The meet-the-media event was held in Salt Lake City the past three years.)

Quarterback Bryant Moniz is expected to be the Warriors' representative.

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Even offensive coordinators are on a budget. Here's Nick Rolovich preparing his power lunch:

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What does yesterday's ruling in the NFL dispute mean?

According to our expert, "legally it lifts the lockout. Technically it doesn't."

The matter goes to the Court of Appeals. If a stay is granted, it goes back to a lockout. If not, it's back to business — under the 2010 conditions.

That would be a good news/not-so-good-news situation for the players. The 2010 season did not have a salary cap (good for the players), but it did not have a salary floor (not so good for the players). Tendered free agency is after the sixth full season, not the pre-2010 minimum of four seasons. What's more, there were limited benefits. For instance, players could not put money into an NFL-matching retirement account.