By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
Over the years, the University of Hawaii football program has had its share of outstanding players. From college football record setters to All-Americans and even a Heisman Trophy finalist, Hawaii fans have been able to witness the talents and grit of many gridiron greats.
But which players are the best of the best? Who would comprise the All-Time Rainbow Warrior football team?
Selecting such a team is nearly an impossible task because there are so many deserving players to choose from. For example: Colt, Timmy or Michael Carter? Lelie, Bess or Murray? Woodcock, Noga or Sopoaga?
So here’s my All-Time UH Offense. We’ll focus on the Defense later.
A brief explanatory note: In selecting my team, I went with a traditional football lineups. (Sorry, no run-and-shoot or spread offense here.) Also, my memories of UH football only date back to the tail end of the Dave Holmes years, so unfortunately you won’t find a Larry Sherrer or Tommy Kaulukukui on this team.
Here’s my lineup:
Quarterback: COLT BRENNAN. In his junior season in 2006, he shattered numerous UH records, including single-season passing yards (5,549) and total yards (5,915). He also set the NCAA single-season record with 58 TDs. The next season, Brennan led the program to a perfect 12-0 regular season and it’s first-ever Sugar Bowl berth. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy race.
Running Back: GARY ALLEN. Hawaii’s career rushing leader, with 3,451 net yards. More importantly, he was an electrifying centerpiece of the Rainbow Warrior teams that brought “Saturday Night Fever” to the Islands in the late 1970s-early 1980s. A UH Sports Circle of Honor inductee.
Running Back: JOEY IOSEFA. Iosefa would line up at fullback on this team. A punishing runner with nimble feet, he finished his career No. 5 on the school’s all-time rushing list (2,218) before having a brief stint with NFL’s New England Patriots.
Center: SAMSON SATELE. A four-time All-WAC selection (2x First Team), Satele anchored the UH O-line that protected both Brennan and Timmy Chang.
Guard: JESSE SAPOLU. He would go on to be win four Super Bowl rings as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, but Sapolu was a standout lineman at UH. He was an All-WAC guard for the team before being asked to switch to Center after an injury to Ed Riewerts. “I had never played center before. Taking a step back and snapping your hand back we’re totally new to me,” he once recalled. (Sapolu would become a 2x Pro Bowl selection at that position.)
Guard: VINCE MANUWAI. A standout on June Jones’ earliest UH teams, the Farrington alum didn’t allow a sack in his final 35 games. He was a 3x All-WAC selection, and College Football News named him a First-Team All-American after his senior campaign. He also enjoyed a lengthy NFL career with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Tackle: LEO GOEAS. Came to UH hoping to be a tight end, but wound up becoming an outstanding tackle for the Warriors in the mid- to late-1980s. He was later a third-round selection of the San Diego Chargers and had an eight-year NFL career.
Tackle: DAN AUDICK. At 6-2, 250 lbs., Audick was a bit undersized for his position, but his smarts and technique made him a key component on the offensive one during the Larry Price era. He was later drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and won a Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers.
Tight End: JERRY SCANLAN. No, he didn’t have big numbers. He played in the 1970s for Larry Price and Dick Tomey, who emphasized the running game. But the Iolani product was a key member of the offensive line. He played briefly for the Washington Redskins before a neck injury ended his career.
Wide Receiver: ASHLEY LELIE. He’s the only UH receiver to log three 200-yard games, and all three came during his senior year in 2001. Had a combined 547 receiving yards in consecutive games that season (285 versus Air Force, 262 against BYU. Became the highest NFL Draft pick in school history (No.19 overall in 2002).
Wide Receiver: DAVONE BESS. Greg Salas had more yardage, but I’m giving Bess a slight edge because of his ability to score (Bess is the UH career leader with 41 receiving TDs; Salas had 26). He was perhaps Colt Brennan’s most reliable weapon.
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