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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lolotai shaping up fine in middle

By Stephen Tsai Editor
Brashton Satele's injury left a hole in the middle of the defense.
Mana Lolotai is the middle trying to make the defense whole.
"I told Mana: 'It's your job now,' " recalled Satele, the Hawai'i middle linebacker who undergoes season-ending shoulder surgery today in Los Angeles.
That leaves the heart of the defense to a Kamehameha Schools graduate who spent the summer reshaping his body and skills.
"He dedicated himself to getting quicker, faster, stronger," defensive coordinator Cal Lee said.
Lolotai spent four weeks in Arizona participating in trainer Chad Ikei's intensive workout program. Lolotai was placed on a strict low-carb diet — small portions, frequent light snacks, lots of salads — and focused on footwork and speed drills.
"He came back in excellent shape," Lee said of the 6-foot, 230-pound junior.
Lolotai also was poised to be the linebacker-in-waiting, ready to serve as Satele's primary backup.
But during the first scrimmage of the recently completed 2 1/2-week training camp, Satele suffered a fractured rotator cuff and torn labrum in his left shoulder.
After deciding to undergo surgery, Satele approached Lolotai, essentially passing the proverbial torch.
"I think he's going to have a good year," Satele said.
Lolotai said: "Brashton has been helping me a lot."
Each day, Lolotai goes to the defensive conference room, where he watches freshly edited videos of practices. Alongside Satele and Lee, Lolotai would review his play in practice.
"I'm more of a visual person," Lolotai said. "I have to see (the wide picture), then make my corrections."
The videos show a panoramic view of the offensive and defensive formations.
"You can see all of the routes, and what the receivers are doing, what they try to do when they line up in certain formations," Lolotai said.
He said his improved condition — he lost more than 10 pounds and reduced his body fat to 11 percent this summer — enables him to cover more turf.
"Getting faster was a big thing," he said. "And I wanted to get my lungs ready. I want to play stronger (deeper) in games."
Lolotai was born with the football gene. His grandfather, Al Lolotai, was the first National Football League player of Samoan ancestry. His father and uncles were standout local high school defensive players.
As a Kamehameha senior in 2006, Lolotai signed with Oregon State. But because of family commitments, he remained in Hawai'i, attending a private college during the 2006-2007 academic year.
During that time, he and his wife, Shaela, had a daughter, Zaiah. Today is Zaiah's third birthday.
"It was tough that year, working and going to school," Lolotai said. "I wasn't working out like I should have been. But my wife and family really stuck by me. They made a lot of sacrifices. They really motivated me. I owe them a lot."

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