By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
Before June Jones arrived in 1999, University of Hawaii football was primarily known for an attacking defense and effective ground game. The Rainbow Warrior attack featured leading rushers such as Larry Sherrer, Wilbert Haslip, Gary Allen, David Toloumu and Travis Sims. With JJ’s run-and-shoot, however, Hawaii opened up its aerial game and unleashed a full arsenal of wide receiver weapons, from Owens and Bess to Salas and Ursua.
Here are our picks for Hawaii’s 10 best receivers in program history:
10. DEWAYNE JETT. Seriously, is there a more fitting name for a wide receiver? But the sure-handed was more than a cool name. He led UH in receiving yards twice (1978, ’79) during the formative years of the Dick Tomey era, which emphasized the running game. In his four-year career, snared 62 receptions for 1,013 yards and 13 TDs. Averaged 16.3 yards per reception. Was later drafted by the Detroit Lions.
9. MARCUS KEMP. The 2017 Rainbow Warrior MVP led Hawaii in receiving in three out of his four seasons at Manoa. Had 73 receptions for 1,100 yards and 8 TDs as a senior. Currently playing with the Kansas City Chiefs.
8. JOHN URSUA. Ranks ninth all time in UH receiving yards (2,662), and possibly could have finished in the top three had he not skipped his senior season. Led the team in receiving yards in 2017 and ’18, including 1,343 yards in ’18. His 16 TDs that season was the most since Chad Owens (17) in 2004.
7. RYAN GRICE-MULLEN. Although sometimes overshadowed by teammates Davone Bess and Jason Rivers, Grice-Mullen was a reliable pass-catcher with impressive numbers. Is fourth on the program’s all-time receiving list (3,370) and also contributed 237 receptions and 36 TDs. Scored Hawaii’s lone TD in the 2008 Sugar Bowl.
6. WALTER MURRAY. Paired with QB Raphel Cherry to form a potent QB-WR duo. The only player to lead UH in receptions and receiving yards for four seasons. Career stats: 178 receptions, 2,865 yards, 20 TDs and 1 infamous drop. A 2nd-Rd. draft pick by the Washington Football Team.
5. CHAD OWENS. “Mighty Mouse” saved the day many times for the Rainbow Warriors. Had 4 TD receptions in a single game on three different occasions. A second-team All-American (Sports Illustrated) in 2004, his senior year. Ranks sixth on Hawaii’s all-time receiving list, with 239 receptions for 3,031 yards and 29 TDs. Later drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars and became a CFL legend.
4. JASON RIVERS. Former Saint Louis School standout is second among UH receivers in career receiving yards (3,919) and career receptions (292). Had 17 100-yard receiving games. Might be best known for his 14-reception, 167-yard, 4-TD performance in the 2007 regular-season finale against Washington. That victory gave the Rainbow Warriors an undefeated regular season and a berth in the Sugar Bowl.
3. DAVONE BESS. The school’s all-time leader in career receptions (294) and receiving TDs (41). Led UH in receptions for three consecutive seasons (2005, ’06 and ’07). In his final season as a Rainbow Warrior, he was named an All-American by five different organizations. A 3x First-Team All-WAC selection. Later played six seasons in the NFL.
2. GREG SALAS. Hawaii’s all-time leader in receiving yards (4,345). In 2010, he set school records for most receptions in a season (119), most receiving yards in a season (1,889) and most 100-yard games in a season (10). That year, he also set a record for most consecutive games with 100+ receiving yards. Led UH in receiving for three seasons. Later drafted by the St. Louis Rams and played seven years in the NFL.
1. ASHLEY LELIE. In 2001, Lelie had the greatest year ever for a UH receiver, grabbing 84 receptions for 1,713 yards and 19 TDs. The former Radford standout also set a school record for average receiving yards per game (142.8). Ranks fifth on the UH career receiving list (3,341 yards). Posted 17.2 yards per reception over his UH career. He later became the 19th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft (Denver Broncos) – the highest selection ever for a UH player.
Honorable Mention: Golden Richards, Darrick Branch, Jeff Sydner, Chris Roscoe, Dwight Carter, Kealoha Pilares, Justin Colbert, JJ Ward, Cedric Byrd II, Jared Smart.
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