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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Just Win Camp gives MIL players exposure

PUKALANI - Mana Rosa took it in stride. Actually, he took a stride from his offensive lineman opponent in a one-on-one blocking drill.

Rosa's left forearm was stepped on at the fifth annual Just Win Football Camp at Kamehameha Schools Maui on Thursday.

Friday, Rosa, a rising senior defensive end at Baldwin High School, had to watch the action from the sidelines, his arm broken in three places, but the prognosis good.

''Yesterday, I was in one-on-ones and I did a pass rush move and I spun off,'' the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Rosa said. ''I went down to brace myself and a guy stepped on me and popped my forearm. I heard a pop and felt it. I just knew something was wrong. I was just thinking in my head, 'Whoa, I hope my recruiting didn't just go down the drain,' but the news isn't too bad.''

Rosa said that his doctor told him he would need to be in a cast for five to six weeks.

The breaks - two on his upper forearm bone and one on the lower - were all clean, and he should have no lingering effects from the injury when fall camp opens in August.

''He said I should be back before the season, so it should be all good,'' said Rosa, who is the No. 15 overall prospect on the Scout.com Northwest Hot 100 list and No. 35 nationally at his position. ''All three breaks are clean, so I should be fine.''

Rosa attended the Oregon State University camp last week and talked to former Hawaii assistant coach Mike Cavanaugh, who is now on the OSU staff. Rosa, who currently has scholarship offers from Utah and Nevada-Las Vegas, listed six Pac-10 Conference schools among those who have shown large interest in him.

He said his list is not complete yet and that he is waiting to hear more from Hawaii.

''I am just waiting,'' he said. ''The Pac-10 schools are good, so if they make an offer I might just take it. Hopefully before the season or during the season, I can verbally commit. My options are open. I talked to UH a little bit in May and they said they are interested, but they are waiting to see how I do. UH is just on the list, not at the top, because they didn't really show as much interest as other schools. Cal and Oregon State are probably at the top of my list right now.''

Rosa will miss next week's Gameplan Camp on Oahu because of his injury.

''I am kind of disappointed because I wanted to do these camps, but I am all right because it is not that bad of an injury - it definitely could have been worse,'' he said. ''It is not like my knee or anything. I would rather break my arm than have a knee (injury).''

Rosa said that his ranking on the Northwest list - which includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah - surprised him. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds.

''I went home and my mom told me, 'Hey, you just made the Northwest top 100,' '' Rosa said. ''I said, 'What was I?' And she said, '15' and I was like, 'Whoa.' I was just tripping out.''

Rosa is joined on the Northwest list by Baldwin teammate Makana Hoopai, an offensive guard who is No. 61, and Jordan Puu-Robinson, a tight end who played last season at Kamehameha Maui and is No. 37 on the list.

Puu-Robinson said he is uncertain where he will play this fall - he can transfer to Baldwin, his home district school, without penalty under a new statewide transfer rule.

Puu-Robinson, 6-3 1/2, 240 pounds, did not confirm or deny he is transferring.

''Nothing official yet, but yeah, it is a possibility,'' Puu-Robinson said of the possible move to Baldwin. ''It was pretty cool to make the list because that list is the first time I have gotten recognition like that nationally. My goal here is to show them that I can block as a tight end, not just catch the ball. Hopefully I can also show them that I faster than I look like on tape.''

Puu-Robinson said his list of schools includes Colorado, Cal, Oregon and Nevada. He is getting the chance to show his prowess to assistant coaches from Cal, Oregon, Weber State, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, San Diego State and Stanford at this camp that concludes today.

''It is great, we don't have to travel anywhere, no airplane time and you just get to stay at home and show them what you got,'' Puu-Robinson said.

Hoopai was at the camp as well, but like Rosa, he was just watching because of a protective boot he is wearing on a foot he injured playing volleyball for the Bears this spring.

''I was shocked when I made that list,'' the 6-3, 260-pound offensive guard said. ''I broke my pinky bone in my foot. I have been in a cast for two months and now I am in just this boot for a couple more weeks. I will be ready for fall camp, but I am pretty bummed I can't be out here right now going against all these guys. I wanted to be out there with my friend Mana, but I'll be back soon enough.''

Hoopai said his college list includes Oregon, UNLV, ''or any place on the West Coast.''

Hoopai said he was in contact with former Hawaii assistant coach Jeff Reinbold before Reinbold moved to Southern Methodist with June Jones. Since then, UH has not contacted Hoopai.

''Guaranteed, UH is where I want to be but nobody from the new staff has talked to me,'' Hoopai said.

One of the coaches in attendance was former Baldwin head coach Chad Kauhaahaa, who was a standout defensive lineman at Utah before graduating in 1996 and is now the defensive line coach at Weber State.

Kauhaahaa said things have come a long way for Maui standouts since he graduated from Baldwin in 1991. At Weber State, he is working for Ron McBride, who was his head coach at Utah.

''It is great to be home,'' Kauhaahaa said. ''I look forward to this every year. It is just an awesome feeling to get to work with a lot of the best athletes in the state of Hawaii. It is going great for us at Weber State. I am going on my fourth season now, so this is a year that we have got to step it up. Our recruiting class is top-notch. It is crunch time for us. This is the last year on coach McBride's contract, so in college football, no win, no coaching, so we gotta get it done.''

Former Baldwin receivers Akamu Aki and Cody Nakamura are on the Wildcats' roster.

There will be 10 MIL graduates in NCAA Division I-A football this fall. A lot of them got there with opportunities at camps like this.

''That says a lot about the MIL,'' Kauhaahaa said. ''It just shows that the kids today are a lot more committed, but at the same time there are a lot more avenues to go to college. When I was playing, it was a rarity for someone from Maui to go to college. The MIL coaches here do a lot to help these kids get to the next level. These guys gotta take advantage of it because we didn't have these opportunities.''

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