With a change of coaching staffs for the University of Hawaii football team in 2016, head coach Nick Rolovich’s regime offers a second chance for many players who were trapped in former boss Norm Chow’s dog house.
The most apparent of the new lifers has been a Bullmastiff of a wide receiver: 6’4″ 215 lb. Ammon Barker.
Barker rode the pine for the most part in 2015, only seeing time on special teams, but the change to coach “Rolo” has Barker rollin’.
The red-shirt junior has been getting repetitions with the first-team offense, and using his big body to shield smaller defensive backs. Barker isn’t one to bark about his role with the team, but his teammates believe his NFL size and strength combination could put him at the top of the food chain in the Mountain West Conference.
“Yeah it’s kind of like a tight end out there playing receiver almost,” senior quarterback Ikaika Woolsey said. “He’s a big-bodied guy. He goes up and can pretty much put the ball anywhere in the vicinity and he’s gonna come down with it, so that definitely makes my job easier.”
Barker only has 10 receptions for 162 yards in his two-year career in Manoa, but his newfound use of his size could become a difference-maker in Hawaii’s aerial attack.
“I try to use it to my advantage, definitely,” Barker said. “Especially when it’s smaller DBs working against slot cover guys like safeties or the hook players. I feel like it plays an advantage to me, because a lot of times I am going against smaller corners. For that matter it’s a little bit easier for me to get my frame in front of him, or just bully my way through things a little bit.”
Barker and the ‘Bows will buckle up full-pads for the first time in fall camp Saturday morning at 7 a.m. at Clarence T.C. Ching Field.
Hawaii kicks off the 2016 season Aug. 26 at 4 p.m. HST in Australia against Cal.