2020 Hawaii Football Position Breakdown: Wide Receivers

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October 10, 2020. HONOLULU, NCAA football practice at the Aloha Stadium.

UH no longer has the services of Cedric Byrd IIJason-Matthew Sharsh and JoJo Ward who combined for an eye-popping 3,144 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns last season. Despite of that, the Rainbow Warriors still boast an arsenal of receivers to fuel UH’s new Run-N-Gun offense.

Jared Smart, a 1,000-yard receiver last season, headlines a group of established veterans. UH has also restocked with talent via the FBS, junior college, and high school levels.

“We got a bunch of dynamic guys who are hungry and humble,” wide receivers coach Brennan Marion says. “They’re students of the game and applying themselves each day. We should expect a lot of big plays from these guys.”

Returnees

Wide Receiver  Ht   Wt  Cl  2019 Stats
 Jared Smart  6-0  190  Sr. 87 rec., 1,129 yards, 5 TDs
 Melquise Stovall  5-9  190  Sr.  18 rec., 248 yards, 4 TDs
 Grey Ihu  6-0   175  Jr. Redshirted
 Kahale Huddleston  5-10  180  So. DNP
 Nick Mardner  6-6  190  So. 5 rec., 169 yards, 2 TDs
 James Phillips  5-9  155  So. 4 GP; redshirted
 Lincoln Victor  5-10  170  So. 10 rec., 86 yards, 3 TDs
 Jaden Allen  5-9  165 R-Fr. Redshirted
 Mekel Ealy  6-3  200 R-Fr. 2 GP; redshirted
 Jonah Panoke  6-2  185 R-Fr. 3 GP; redshirted

Newcomers

Wide Receiver  Ht  Wt Cl Hometown (Last School)
 Rico Bussey   6-2 190 Sr.  Lawton, Okla. (North Texas)
 Aaron Cephus   6-4 200 Sr.  Houston, Texas (Rice)
 Zion Bowens  6-1200 Jr. Long Beach, Calif. (Long Beach CC)
 Dior Scott  5-9 175 Jr. Antioch, Calif. (Laney College)
 Kaleb Maresh  6-1 190 So. Murrieta, Calif. (Dordt University)
 Quin Bright  5-9 170 Fr. Cedar Hill, Texas (Cedar Hill HS)
 Kilohana Haasenritter  6-0    190 Fr. Hilo, Hawai’i (Hilo HS)
 Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala  5-10 175 Fr. Kapolei, O’ahu (Campbell HS)
 Dayton Toney   6-1 175 Fr. Frisco, Texas (Prestonwood Christian)
 Riley Wilson   6-2 190 Fr. Prosper, Texas (Prestonwood Christian)

2019 WRs lostCedric Byrd IIJoJo WardJason-Matthew SharshJohn JohnsonRobert Funkhouser

Smart Choice:Jared Smart is on the preseason watch list for the Biletnikoff Award after enjoying a productive junior campaign. The sure-handed Smart finished fifth in the Mountain West in receptions (87) and second on the team in receiving yards (1,129) last year. He had a team-high five games with 100 or more yards, including a 142-yard, two-touchdown performance in the team’s Hawai’i Bowl win over BYU. Marion says: “Jared’s got a quiet confidence, a humble demeanor and comes from good stock. He can run the whole route tree and has a lot of great moves after the catch. He’s a really strong and savvy player and that’s what makes him so dynamic and unique at the position.”

Inside Job: Slot receivers Melquise Stovall and Lincoln Victor are back. The pair, who both also double as return specialists, should continue to menace opponents. Stovall a former four-star recruit and Pac-12 starter at Cal, was limited to just five games for the Warriors last year. However, he showed his explosiveness in back-to-back two-touchdown performances at Boise State and versus Air Force. 

Even with UH’s deep receiving corp last season, Victor earned action as a true freshman. He made the most of his opportunities, tallying 10 catches for 86 yards and three touchdowns.

Proven Commodities: UH added a pair of Conference USA graduate transfers in the off-season. Rico Bussey, a first-team all-conference selection for North Texas, should make an immediate impact. The Oklahoma native accumulated 1,914 yards and 21 touchdowns in three seasons with the Mean Green. Marion says: “Rico’s come in and been a worker, a leader, and a great teammate. He’ll be special. He uplifts everyone and  brings a different type of swagger and toughness to the group.”

Rice transfer Aaron Cephus tallied 1,1187 yards and 10 totals touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Owls. Described by Marion as a “rangy, power forward type of guy,” the 6-4 Cephus now bring his considerable size and talents across the Pacific.

Speed Kills: Former track standouts Zion Bowens and Quin Bright could be home-run hitters for UH with their blazing speed. Bowens comes to Hawaii via Long Beach City College where he was an all-conference and all-state performer. Bright, an all-district receiver for Cedar Hill High School, was rated the No. 65 athlete in the state of Texas in the Class of 2020 by 247sports.

Others To Watch: Sophomore Nick Mardner is a big target with a knack for big plays. The 6-6 native of Canada averaged 33.8 yards on his five catches last year. Two of this five catches went for touchdowns, including the game-winner against BYU in the Hawai’i Bowl. “Sky’s the limit for Nick,” Marion said. “He’s got some serious top-end speed and big plays will continue for him as he continues to learn the game.”

Jonah Panoke was a trusty receiver for Chevan Cordeiro at Saint Louis School and they now look to reignite that connection at UH as Panoke enters his redshirt freshman season. “Jonah’s a great kid and great player,” Marion says. “He’s another one learning to put it all together and once he does all his talents will take over. He checks all the boxes as what a prototypical NFL receiver looks like.”

Numbers To Know: : The Rainbow Warriors had six different players eclipse 100 yards receiving in a game last year, the most in the nation…UH return two players who hit that mark in Jared Smart and Melquise Stovall…Smart returns as the Mountain West’s leading receiver in receptions (87) and second-leading receiver in yards per game (75.3).

Coaches Notes:Brennan Marion was a two-time all-conference receiver for Todd Graham at Tulsa before joining the NFL’s Miami Dolphins….he set an FBS record for yards per catch (31.9) in 2007, a record that still stands today.…inside receivers coach Tony Hull graduated with a degree in industrial technology from Louisiana-Lafayette and spent two years working for NASA, prior to embarking on his football coaching career.

The Last Word: Marion says: “The standard has been set at Hawai’i football at the wide receiver position. We expect to be the top group in the country, like it’s been in the past, and we expect to play at a championship level.” 

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