Center John Estes' return to practice this week signaled a marked improvement for Hawaii's offensive line.
"We've had him out there the last two days and it's the best we've looked," Warriors head coach Greg McMackin said of Estes, who had missed several practices with a tight hamstring. "He really solidifies things with his leadership and his abilities."
Estes' abilities haven't gone unnoticed on the national scene. Yesterday, the junior from Stockton, Calif., was named to the watch list for the Outland Trophy, which goes to the best interior lineman in college football.
Two Hawaii prep products were also named to the 70-player list: Oregon senior center Max Unger (Hawaii Prep '04) and Oregon State senior guard Jeremy Perry (Kahuku '04).
"We're really excited about John being on the Outland list -- it's well deserved," McMackin said. "We've been very happy to have him back in practice, but we're being careful with him because of that tweaked hamstring."
Estes and other potential starters will see limited action in today's practice, which begins at 3:30 p.m. at the UH practice field. Following the first 45 minutes, there will be a controlled scrimmage where McMackin said he would hold out most of the starters on defense while he and his staff evaluate other players.
The event is free and open to the public, as is next week's spring game at Aloha Stadium. Hawaii will practice Monday, Wednesday and Thursday leading up to next Saturday's Ohana Festival.
Today's agenda includes a coaches clinic open to youth and high school coaches. Registration begins at 8 a.m. with the clinic going from 9 a.m. until practice begins.
"We're expecting a good turnout," McMackin said. "It's a chance for us to share and exchange ideas. Yes, it will be a long day, but I'm really excited about interacting with coaches from around the state."