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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Isle football prospects bigger, faster, stronger

By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer

There was a time not long ago when many Hawai'i college football prospects were content to "talk with their pads," leaving the gaudy stats (40-yard dash time, bench press, vertical jump, etc.) to Mainland players who often posted better numbers.

But times have changed, and with college recruiting as competitive and sophisticated as ever, the local talent has learned how to market themselves in every possible way.

That is why 277 of them showed up to the Eighth Annual Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance Football Combine yesterday at Saint Louis School. Each player was measured for height and weight, timed in the 40, recorded repetitions in the 185-pound and 225-pound bench press, vertical and broad jumps.

They also had times recorded in so-called "L" and "T" quickness and agility drills, and some were filmed in one-on-one line drills.

All of the players' data were recorded and logged onto a spread sheet, which was posted on the internet last night for hundreds of college coaches to peruse.

"A lot of kids will be put on the map after today," said Mililani High School coach Darnell Arceneaux, who directed the combine along with former University of Hawai'i standout Eddie Klaneski. "The linemen are always our heart and soul, but today we also had a lot of skill guys show up. This was one of the best years we've had."

VJ Fehoko, a 2008 Advertiser All-State defensive lineman from Farrington who will transfer to Kahuku this summer, did an eye-popping 37 reps while bench-pressing 225 pounds. Fehoko is listed at 6 feet, 211 pounds.

By comparison, former Hawai'i Prep standout Max Unger, a 6-foot-4, 309-pound All-Pac-10 center for Oregon, did 22 reps of 225 at the NFL combine in February and ended up as the 49th overall pick in the April draft, going to the Seattle Seahawks in the second round.

Another stunning stat was Kailua receiver Corey Lau's 40-yard dash time of 4.44 seconds. Lau (5-8 1/2, 140) will be a senior next season.

"In the old days, Hawai'i kids weren't exposed to this kind of thing, but now they are able to test well," said Arceneaux, who played quarterback at Utah after a standout career at Saint Louis. "That's the best part. The kids came out and did well. And even kids from the small schools were able to showcase their talent."

Waialua had 14 players at the combine.

"Being from a smaller school, we have to work a little harder," said Waialua slotback Travis Deuz. "This helps us be more noticeable to the colleges and the scouts."

Waialua defensive end Graham Rowley (6-3, 269) ran the 40 in 4.82 seconds, did 19 reps of 225 and had a 32-inch vertical leap. He has already made a verbal commitment to play for Brigham Young.

Waialua offensive lineman Micah Hatchie (6-4 1/2, 291) did 19 reps of 225. Bulldogs coach Lincoln Barit said Hatchie is receiving offers from Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Washington State, Arizona, Stanford and Louisville, among others.

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