The Warrior Beat

Chasing the dream

February 16th, 2013

Yesterday's walk-on tryouts had several elements — drizzle, drama (it was the start of a three-day weekend so no key-holder to Ching could be found) and eclectic characters.

But about 40 football players were able to show their talents, grit and, sometimes, girth in a tryout that should earn a few a spot on the Warriors' spring roster. Invitations are expected to be formally extended on Tuesday.

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There were what-the-heck expressions when Justin Lopez crossed the finish line of the 40-yard dash in a surprising 4.5 seconds. It was a good time considering the turf was slippery and there was a significant head wind.

Lopez then jogged back and readied himself for his second try.

"Stop!" said UH assistant coach Phil Rauscher, who coordinated the tryouts. "Don't you want to rest a little?"

Lopez didn't.

He finished his second sprint in 4.6 seconds.

Lopez is a 2009 Waialua High graduate who recently attended Leeward Community College. He is 5 feet 9 and 195 pounds, and aspires to play slotback.

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The odds would appear to be against Kendrick Simmons, a recent Leeward Community College graduate.

He hasn't played football in years.

His weight is mauka of 320 pounds.

He is 34 years old.

But Simmons, who has a background in television production, embraced the challenge of trying to make the Warriors as an offensive lineman. Several Warriors cheered as Simmons went through the 40-yard dash and L-test.

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The courting began on the basketball court.

Malcolm Okeke had been working out daily in Gym II with the hope of trying out for the basketball Warriors. Bystanders noted that Okeke's size (6-3), footwork and quickness would be transferrable skills to football. He was encouraged to participate in yesterday's tryout.

Okeke, who was born in Nigeria, did well in the speed drills despite wearing gym shoes instead of cleats.

"I never expected any of this," Okeke said. "I've never done anything like this."

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Running back Pareese Joas said he has trained regularly since graduating from Liberty High (Frisco, Texas) in 2010.

He carries a football wherever he goes.

"I've been training for this," Joas said. "But, really, I've been training my whole life for football."

Joas said he enrolled at UH because "of the pro-style offense and the coaching staff."

He enrolled in January, then pestered the coaches for a chance to audition.

"They finally told me the forms were in, so I picked them up," Joas said.

Joas was credited with a 4.4 in his first 40-yard sprint. One of the timers clocked Joas as under 4.4 seconds. His second attempt also was under 4.5 seconds.


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The new additions — grad assistant Jordan Wynn and assistant coach Chris Naeole:


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It's the angle but offensive tackle David Griffin (left) is actually taller than tight end Josh Long;


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It's all about leverage as cornerback Ne'Quan Phillips (right) vowed he could tackle linebacker Brenden Daley:


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It was supposed to be a simple picture of the DBs — John Hardy-Tuliau (left), Ne'Quan Phillips (middle) and Tony Grimes (right) — and then Joey Iosefa took over, front and center:


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