While running backs experienced their share of shine in the Run-N-Shoot, expect a more expanded, well-rounded role for the group in UH’s new Run-N-Gun offense. It’s an offense that stresses the complete back – someone who can run, catch, pass protect and run block.
UH has an exciting stable of running backs to deploy on that mission this year. Top rusher Miles Reedreturns for his junior year after flirting with a 1,000-yard season in 2019. He’s joined by a pair of promising newcomers in true freshman Dae Dae Hunter and senior transfer Calvin Turner.
No matter who is on the field, UH looks to exploit its opponents both on the ground and in the air. “We have so many guys that are dangerous with the football in their hands,” running backs coach Bo Graham says. “We have guys that can make you miss, we got guys who can run you over, and we got guys who can out-run you too. I love the versatility of this group.”
|Running Backs||Ht||Wt||Cl||2019 Rushing Stats|
|Hekili Keliiliki||6-2||235||Sr.||85 yds, 17 att|
|Miles Reed||5-8||190||Jr.||908 yds, 174 att, 8 TDs|
|Keliam Brunn*||5-10||185||Jr.||*WR last year, 1 GP|
|Running Backs||Ht||Wt||Cl||Hometown (Last School)|
|Calvin Turner||6-1||195||Sr.||Savannah, Ga. (Jacksonville University)|
|Kenneth Fitzgerald||6-0||220||Jr.||Vallejo, Calif. (Santa Rosa JC)|
|Dae Dae Hunter||5-10||200||Fr.||Denver, Colo. (Chandler HS)|
|Koali Nishigaya||5-9||175||Fr.||Waipahu, O’ahu (Saint Louis School)|
Bam Bam Is Back : Miles Reed enjoyed a breakout season in 2019 with 908 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. The powerful and shifty Reed is on the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award. Even more of his skills should be showcased this year according to Graham, who is also grateful for the fourth-year junior’s veteran leadership.
“Miles brings consistency,” Graham says. “He’s not easily rattled and he brings the same contagious spirit every day to practice. Miles is a leader and it’s been great having him rub off the others guys and showing the way. He’s rushed for 900 yards and won 10 games last year, so he knows what it takes to be successful. He’s extremely unselfish. With what we’re doing, I think you’ll see a lot of skills from him that you may haven’t seen in the past.”
Dynamic Newcomers: A true freshman could make his mark early for the Rainbow Warriors. Highly-touted Dae Dae Hunter rushed for 1,748 yards and 33 touchdowns for Chandler High School in Arizona and now brings his prodigious talents to Manoa. Graham says: “Dae Dae is one of those guys who is going to cause problems for defenses. He can play anywhere on the field. He’s extremely natural, extremely physical, and hard to tackle. We’re definitely excited about what he’ll be able to do and he’s definitely someone the fans will want to keep an eye on.”
FCS transfer Calvin Turner joins the backfield after starring at both quarterback and cornerback for Jacksonville University in Florida. A senior and a former signal caller, Graham praises Turner’s leadership, smarts , and versatility and has been pleased at how easily he’s transitioned from a triple-option quarterback to a running back. “Calvin’s just very well polished,” Graham says. “He can get in the box and get physical, but he can also get to the perimeter and be highly successful in one-on-one situations. We’re very fortunate to have him with us.”
The Thumper: While the Warriors have a trio of game-breaking backs, junior Hekili Keliiliki is built in a different mode. “It’s kind of like a pitcher,” Graham says. “You got have more than one pitch. Hekili is a large back who people do not want to tackle. He’s a hammer, who can really pound a defense and do all the dirty work inside the box as far as blocking, protecting and running the ball.”
More Than An Athlete: Keliiliki, is a candidate for the Wuerffel Trophy, college football’s premier award for community service. Keliiliki, who is native Hawaiian, serves on the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; is a youth development intern for the Lili’uokalani Trust, whose mission is to care for and ensure the well-being of the most vulnerable Native Hawaiian children; and often volunteers for reading days and campus beautification projects.
Others To Watch: Graham says that Saint Louis school graduate Koali Nishigaya has a high ceiling, while junior college transfer Kenneth Fitzgerald and true freshman Riley Wilson could also factor in the backfield.
Coaches Note: Bo Graham has been by his father’s side at a four previous collegiate stops, most recently at Arizona State. He’s certainly built a reputation for developing the position. The Texas native has mentored numerous all-conference players, two Freshman All-Americans, four bowl MVPs and two NFL draft picks while serving as a full-time running backs coach.
The Last Word: Graham says:”I love their mentality. We have a blue-collar mentality. There’s a lot of unity on this team and it starts with a bunch of unselfish players.”