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Through the Grapevine

Every day, we read or hear about interesting tidbits involving Hawaii athletes or coaches. Here’s a quick roundup of local sports items:

♦ Former University of Hawaii football great JASON ELAM has been nominated for the 2021 class of Pro Football Hall of Fame. Elam, who still holds numerous UH placekicking and punting records, played 17 years in the NFL and is currently eighth on the league’s all-time scoring list. He was also a co-holder of the NFL record for longest field goal (63 yards). Elam is one of 130 Hall of Fame nominees.

♦ With Dan Quinn out as the Atlanta Falcons’ head coach, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris has been named the team’s interim head coach. And in a related move, linebackers coach JEFF ULBRICH has been named Atlanta’s defensive coordinator. Ulbrich, of course, was a standout linebacker for Hawaii in 1998 and ‘99. He still holds Hawaii’s single-season for most total tackles (169 in 1999).

♦ The roller coaster NFL life of former UH receiver MARCUS KEMP may be headed in the upward direction again. The Kansas City Chiefs’ special teams standout sat out last season with an injury, watching his teammates win the Super Bowl. Kemp was then waived in the offseason, then cut again last Tuesday, and then was signed to the Chiefs’ practice squad just two days later. Now, with Sammy Watkins expected to miss a game or two with a hamstring injury, Kemp is a candidate to replace him on the active roster.

♦ Former UH football head coach NICK ROLOVICH has a unique challenge in his first season at Washington State: The Cougars don’t have a QB on their roster that took a college snap in 2019. That includes true freshman JAYDEN DE LAURA, the former Saint Louis School standout who has the advantage of having played in the run-and-shoot that Rolovich and his offensive staff are implementing at Wazzu. Says Rolo on De Laura: “[He’s] kind of in that [freshman receiver] Joey Hobert [mold], a lot of those same characteristics, where the lights aren’t too big for him at this level. I think he knows why he came here and is kind of reveling in the opportunity.”

♦ Maryknoll basketball standout SAGE TOLENTINO has accepted a scholarship offer from Auburn University. The 7-foot Junior previously got offered by the Kansas Jayhawks and received interest from numerous other schools, including Kentucky. Tolentino averaged 13.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game last season, helping the Spartans win their second consecutive state championship.

♦ Former Iolani QB JONAH CHONG is a freshman walk-on at Nevada. It was Wolf Pack tight ends coach TIMMY CHANG who lured him to Reno. Matt Mumme, the team’s offensive coordinator and QBs coach, said of Chong: “I love this kid. He’s energetic, he loves to be out there, he’s a little undersized for the quarterback spot, but he throws a really nice ball and Coach Chang did a really nice job getting him to come over as a walk-on for us.”

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