To say the Rainbow Warrior offense is experienced would be a gross understatement. UH returns nine players who have at least one career start under their belt, including four regular starters from last season. It’s a line that has helped UH finish in the Top 10 nationally in passing the last two seasons, including fifth in 2019.
Arguably the strongest and deepest it’s been in more than a dozen years, the offensive line will now be the engine in UH’s Run-N-Gun offense. It’s something that’s not lost on offensive line coach Sam Bennett.
“They’re at the heart of it,” Bennett says. “They set the tone from the get-go. The way they take the field, the way they line up, make the calls, and obviously with the physicality of their play. Their experience helps all-around. They’ve seen the game, the speed it’s played at and that’s really going to help our team.”
|Offensive Line||Ht||Wt||Cl||2019 Stats|
|Michael Eletise||6-4||350||Sr.||4 starts|
|Kohl Levao||6-6||350||Sr.||3 starts; redshirted|
|Ernest Moore||6-8||320||Sr.||11 GP|
|Joey Nu’uanu-Kuhi’iki||6-4||300||Sr.||8 GP; 1 start|
|Gene Pryor||6-3||310||Sr.||14 starts|
|Alesana Sunia||6-3||320||Sr.||6 GP, 1 start|
|Taaga Tuulima||6-3||320||Sr.||15 starts|
|Ramsey Aviu||6-2||310||Jr.||Scout team|
|Ra Elkington||6-5||355||Jr.||Scout team|
|Ilm Manning||6-4||280||Jr.||15 starts|
|Solo Vaipulu||6-2||300||Jr.||9 starts|
|Micah Vanterpool||6-6||300||Jr.||4 GP|
|Eliki Tanuvasa||6-2||320||So.||3 GP; redshirted|
|Bubba Wa’a||6-2||310||R-Fr.||2 starts; redshirted|
|Offensive Line||Ht||Wt||Cl||Hometown (Last School)|
|Sergio Muasau||6-0||340||Fr.||Mililani, O’ahu (Mililani HS)|
|Micah Soliai Howlett||6-3||310||Fr.||La’ie, O’ahu (Kahuku HS)|
Center of Attention: With his instinctive play, center Taaga Tuulima has helped keep the Warriors offensive line humming. The senior, who begins his third year as a starter, is on the Rimington Award Watch List for the nation’s top center. “He’s a student of the game,” says Bennett. “He continuously wants to learn and he has such command. The guys really respect him. He was the team’s offensive MVP here last year, and it’s easy to see why.”
Manning Up: Junior left tackle Ilm Manning is not only one of the top players on the team, but also the entire Mountain West. Manning, who earned all-conference second-team honors last year, has started 29 straight games since his arrival on campus as a true freshman two years ago. He is a preseason MW first-team selection this year and is on watch list for the Outland Trophy presented to the nation’s top lineman. “Ilm has got some special talents,” Bennett says. “He’s a competitor and has great athletic ability. As a lineman, he might be one of the most athletic guys on the entire field.”
A Kohl Customer: The versatile Kohl Levao has played all three spots on the line – tackle, center, and guard – in his time at UH. In 2018, he started all 14 games, however he missed the majority of last season due to injury and ended up redshirting. The 6-6, 350-pound senior is back to full strength and Bennett raves about him: “He’s a big, athletic guy who loves to get his pads down and run people over. But he’s also a very intellectual players. He’s one of those guys I trust on the sideline because he sees the whole field and can help fix situations. He’s bought in and has become a great leader.”
Others To Watch: Junior Solo Vaipulu has started 23 games since his true freshman season and is a dependable players along the interior…senior Gene Pryor, one of the strongest players on the team, started all 14 games he played in last season and is an anchor at right tackle…Arizona transfer Michael Eletise was a welcome addition to the squad in 2019 and started four games after becoming eligible in mid-season…junior tackle Micah Vanterpool has had a strong camp and could see an increased role.
The Next Generation: UH has a veteran offensive line, but the Rainbow Warriors are also stocked with youthful players. Bennett is excited about the prospects of underclassmen Bubba Wa’a, Arasi Mose and Caden Hilborn as well as freshman newcomers Micah Soliai Howlett and Sergio Muasau.
Numbers To Know: The offensive line has 121 combined starts between nine different players. That number of combined starts is the third most in the country entering the 2020 season.
The Last Word: Bennett says: “It’s a blessing to have the experience we have. These veteran guys are trying to be a standard for our group and the rest of the team and they’ve done a really great job. A lot of guys look up to them and they’ve embraced that. We have some talented younger players too. They see how these guys react, learn, and take coaching. You create competition and that always breeds positivity.”