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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Honolulu Advertiser Article on Quentin Beaver and Les Soloai

By Stephen Tsai Editor

Two opposites have been attractions during the University of Hawai'i football team's offseason conditioning sessions.

Defensive tackle Quentin Beaver and defensive end Les Soloai have drawn raves for their workouts. The Warriors open spring training March 31.

Both players have polar backgrounds. Beaver played for Kahuku High, one of the state's football powers. Soloai said the next game of organized football will be his first.

Beaver recently completed a 2 1/2-year church mission in Boston. Soloai was born in New Zealand and raised in Australia.

Beaver speaks in a soft voice. Soloai speaks with an Australian accent.

But both have demonstrated enough raw skills that will enable them to compete for playing time.

Beaver, who is 6 feet 1 and about 330 pounds, reportedly bench pressed more than 500 pounds. He said he regularly lifts 405 pounds. "I haven't maxed out for a while," he said.

During last month's tryouts for walk-ons, he benched 225 pounds 32 times.

Beaver is starting to get back into playing shape. During his mission, he was limited to push-ups and crunches.

"Mostly, it was cold, so we didn't want to go out and run," he said. "I came back a little out of shape. I'm working to get it back."

Beaver said he chose UH because "I wanted to stay home, play in front of my family and friends. And it's cheaper."

Soloai, who is married, walked away from a basketball scholarship to join the Warriors as a walk-on.

Soloai, who is 6 feet 4 and 290 pounds, was recruited to play for the Brigham Young-Hawai'i basketball team. But he suffered a knee injury, and while undergoing treatment, he spoke with a doctor who also helped the UH football team. After hearing about the Warriors, Soloai decided he wanted to try out.

At first, Soloai was prepared to compete on the offensive line. But yesterday morning he worked out with the defensive ends.

"Physically, he can play any sport," said Mel deLaura, who is coordinating UH's offseason conditioning program.

Each week, the Warriors compete in Super Games, a series of fun activities designed to promote team unity.

"All of those games we play, he's the MVP," deLaura said. "Water polo, dodgeball — you name it, he can do it. He's a big-time athlete, and he's getting bigger and stronger."

Associate head coach Rich Miano likened Soloai to former UH defensive lineman Colin Scotts.

"What you're looking for in an athlete, he possesses all of those things," Miano said. "It's Ikaika Alama-Francis all over again. This guy is a good athlete. He has a chance."

Soloai played rugby in Australia, but not football.

"I'm just learning the game," he said. "I've seen it on TV before."

When he first arrived in Hawai'i last year, he admitted to "not knowing a thing about" football.

"I knew it was big with fans here," he said. "I didn't know much at all about it."

He said teammates have been helpful in teaching him techniques.

"It's coming along," he said.

Most of all, it has been an adjustment for his wife, who still attends BYUH. The couple lives in a UH dormitory, and his wife makes the roundtrip commute every weekday.

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