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Next Man Up

This fall, Hawaii sports fans will witness the start of a new chapter in Rainbow Warrior football, with a new coaching staff, new offensive and defensive systems, and new opportunities to build on last season’s success.

Oh, and there will be a new starting quarterback.

Cole McDonald has taken his talents to the NFL, and now it’s Chevan Cordeiro’s turn to shine as Hawaii’s primary signal-caller. The 6-1, 190-lb. redshirt sophomore will be tasked with commanding the team’s new run-and-gun offense, which relies on a strong ground game and rapid-fire pace. So while some questions remain about the 2020 edition of UH football, quarterback is not one of them. As head coach Todd Graham told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Stephen Tsai on Aug. 27: “[Chevan] is clearly our starting quarterback.”

Here’s a closer look at Cordeiro:

HIS PEDIGREE: The Honolulu native is one of the latest QB prodigies from Saint Louis School, the same program that developed the likes of Darnell Arceneaux, Jason Gesser, Jeremiah Masoli, Marcus Mariota and Tua Tagovailoa. Cordeiro, who served as Tagovailoa’s backup in 2016, came into his own during his senior season, leading the Crusaders to the 2017 HHSAA Open Division championship. For his efforts, Cordeiro received KHON2’s “Marcus Mariota Award” as the state’s player of the year.

HIS UH EXPERIENCE: Cordeiro played in four games as a UH freshman, including a surprise start in a home game against Wyoming. In that contest, he threw a pair of TDs in the second half to lead the Rainbow Warriors to a 17-13 come-from-behind victory. Later in the season, Cordeiro came off the bench to lead UH to another comeback win, this time a 35-28 thriller over UNLV on “Senior Night.” He threw three TDs in the fourth quarter, including a 68-yard strike to receiver John Ursua with 1:25 left in the game. His total stats in 2018: 384 passing yards and 6 TDs. Best of all, Cordeiro was able to retain his redshirt status. Last season, in 2019, Cordeiro was primarily used as McDonald’s backup, although he did appear in 12 games, including three starts (wins over San Jose State, UNLV and Army). Notably, he came off the bench to help the Rainbow Warriors beat Arizona and San Diego State. His best game was the Nov. 9 win over San Jose State, where he accounted for 5 TDs (3 passing, 2 rushing) and 364 yards of total offense. He earned Mountain West “Offensive Player of the Week” for his performance. His total stats in 2019: 907 passing yards, 8 TDs and 3 interceptions. He also ran for 212 yards and an additional 3 TDs.

COACH SPEAK: Said Graham to Stephen Tsai in an Aug. 27 interview: “I love that he elevates people around him. I love how our players look at him and respond to him. He is, no question, a leader. I like the fact he doesn’t say a lot. He just leads. He leads by his actions. I think he’s extremely poised, very talented. Great arm talent. He has great feet. He makes really good decisions. All he needs is reps, reps, reps. I love the intangibles about him. I want a quarterback who can hurt the other team with his legs and can extend plays, but, man, he slays them with his arm. I think that describes Chevan. He does a great job of extending plays.”

QUESTION: Cordeiro is a nimble and willing scrambler who can take off and run when the protection breaks down, but he is not as big as Cole McDonald was. Will he be able to stay healthy all season?

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