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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Weight off his shoulders, Letuli hopes to shed more

After a seemingly endless wait, University of Hawai'i football player Laupepa Letuli is now focusing on his weight.
"I have to lose some," said Letuli, patting his hips.
Letuli, who is the No. 1 right tackle, will get the opportunity when he participates in the Warriors' intensive conditioning program this summer.
That is one of the benefits of winning an appeal for a medical exemption that will allow him to play as a sixth-year senior in 2010.
Letuli was notified of the NCAA's decision Tuesday evening — about three months after he filed his appeal.
"It's been a long few months for Laupepa from a stress standpoint," UH offensive line coach Gordy Shaw said.
The past two weeks, Letuli had been practicing in one-on-one drills, but not full-contact team workouts, while awaiting the results of his appeal. His workload did not change much yesterday.
"I'm still involved in only one-on-ones," he said.
But, he admitted: "I'm relieved. I'm not stressed anymore. It was very stressful waiting."
Letuli felt confident that he met the precedent of proving that injuries forced him to miss nearly two full seasons. He suffered torn ligaments in his right shoulder in 2005 and a torn tendon in his left knee in 2009.
He said his mother and UH head trainer Eric Okazaki provided contemporaneous documents — notes written in the years he was injured.
Letuli said his mother "is very organized. She gave a lot of information."
Shaw said: "The biggest winner in all of this is the Warrior football program. We get a good player back for another year."
During UH's Pro Day, an event Letuli attended earlier this month in Carson, Calif., Shaw told National Football League scouts that Letuli was one of the best tackles he ever coached. Shaw repeated that claim yesterday.
"He has the rare combination of power and strength along with physical size, athleticism and quickness," Shaw said. "He has all of the skills, like no one else I've ever been associated with on the offensive line. He's a very smart football player. He understands the game very well. It's just an awesome tribute to the NCAA to give a guy like that another year on the field."

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