Posted on: Wednesday, August 9, 2006
Uperesa packs strength, speed
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
The answer to Oprah's question — Where are all of the nice guys? — can be found in the University of Hawai'i weight room.
That's where offensive tackle Dane Uperesa should receive his mail.
Mel deLaura, who coordinates the summer conditioning program, said Uperesa's mixture of strength and quickness earned him the distinction as the UH football team's most athletic player.
"Overall, as far as size, and being able to run and lift, Dane is our best athlete," deLaura said. "It's amazing what he can do."
Uperesa, who is 6 feet 5 and 305 pounds (after yesterday's two-hour practice), can bench-press a maximum 470 pounds, as well as bench 225 pounds 33 times.
He can squat-lift 600 pounds.
He also can leg-press at least 780 pounds with each leg; he might be able to do more, but the 60-pound bar can't hold more than 16 45-pound plates.
Uperesa, who can dunk a basketball, has a 32-inch vertical jump.
Without a running start, he can touch 11 feet, a contact point that usually is reached by a volleyball outside hitter.
He can run 40 yards in 4.89 seconds.
"Dane is one of the most impressive athletes around," UH coach June Jones said. "Dane has a chance to make a statement this year, and hopefully he will."
The thing is, for all of his accomplishments as the front-side tackle, Uperesa has earned the label as a "nice guy."
As part of the duties of coaching the offensive linemen, Dennis McKnight, a dead ringer for Jesse "The Body" Ventura," is working to change Uperesa's image.
"Dennis said he's going to make him mean this year," deLaura said.
McKnight said: "The only thing I'm trying to tell Dane is, 'Let it go. Play free. Don't worry about making a mistake. Don't worry about 100-percent technique.' I'm not giving him any Earth-shattering news. Maybe it clicks on with a different messenger."
Uperesa, a senior from Punahou School, acknowledged the public's perception of his character, but insisted the image and the on-field player are not the same.
"Being a nice guy, supposedly that's the knock on me," Uperesa said. "I've had to work hard to develop an attitude on the field. It's not so much I'm a nice guy. I'm a laid-back guy who respects other people, and I expect other people to respect me.
"I like coach McKnight's stance: To be myself, and develop that aggressiveness in what I'm doing. That aggressiveness comes with confidence, getting in the weight room and knowing you can stick with the big boys."
McKnight said Uperesa has done a "good job transferring the things he does in the weight room to the field."
Still, McKnight said, "He's a great kid. I wish he didn't have a significant other. I'd like him to marry my daughter. He's the kind of guy I'd like to have as a son-in-law."