As the newest member of the University of Hawaii football team, wide receiver Aaron Cephus joins the Rainbow Warriors as a graduate transfer from Rice.
Cephus did not play in the 2019 season due to an indefinite suspension that stemmed from an unspecified violation of team rules during his freshman season. During his suspension, he used that time to work on himself and earned a degree from one of the nation’s top academic schools.
“Being off the field actually led me to go and rejuvenate those relationships that I had beforehand when I got on the field,” Cephus told KHON2’s Alan Hoshida. “I had a lot more time, I got to thrust myself back into the community and really invest myself back into the community. I was able to do a lot in that situation. It took me back to my roots. I definitely got to mature from the situation and I matured a lot.
“There are a lot of things I understand now and graduating from Rice really kind of taught me that I can set my mind to so coming in, that’s what my mind is stuck on: The community and football.”
As a graduate transfer, Cephus has one year to play for UH but will be immediately eligible. Cephus caught 10 touchdowns during his rice career — five as a freshman and five as a sophomore. During his redshirt freshman season in 2017, he led the FBS in yards per catch as his 25 total receptions came with 24.9 yards per catch.
During his sophomore season, Cephus caught 40 passes for 565 yards. Perhaps his best game that year came against Hawaii in a 43-29 loss for the Owls as he caught five passes for a season-high 97 yards and a touchdown on Sept. 8, 2018.
Despite losing against the Rainbow Warriors, Cephus enjoyed his experience on the island and felt that he could be back soon.
“It was fun. The entire atmosphere, from the sunset right before the game all the way until the fourth quarter where we didn’t pull out the win but it was definitely a nail-biter,” Cephus said. “I consider that game in 2018 my official visit. I kind of got to be in the city, see the culture, get around the individuals that were there. I definitely met a lot of people when I was out there and I kind of enjoyed the culture and I enjoyed kind of everyone’s aura. That was what brought me to easily make my decision to come here.
“I can honestly say I really saw myself being at Hawaii. I can say beforehand I could see myself being there. I could even imagine myself being (at UH) while I was there. It was never a ‘You’re gonna go to Hawaii when everything happens’ when the entire situation unfolded with me transferring. It was just ‘Dang, I have Hawaii on the line, this is definitely something I’ll consider’ because I imagined myself being there before.”
Cephus’ addition to the 2020 Rainbow Warriors comes on the heels of the team adding former North Texas receiver Rico Bussey, giving new head coach Todd Graham two dynamic and experienced options to catch passes in his debut season.
Following a series of cancellations and rescheduling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawaii’s 2020 season is now set to begin on Sept. 26 against Robert Morris. Cephus hasn’t played in a game since 2018. Whenever it is that he does end up making his UH debut, he’ll be itching to go.
“I am starving,” Cephus said. “It’s like I haven’t had a meal in a year.”