The University of Hawaii football team’s training camp rolled on Tuesday morning at Joseph Platt Cooke Field in Manoa where the ‘Bows are just 17 days away from their season opener against California in Australia.
Among the things that head coach Nick Rolovich is working on with the team outside of schematics and technique is experiencing game-style stress situations.
It’s very difficult to recreate the kind of anxiety that comes with playing under the lights in a college football game, but among the drills that are being used to test the team’s nerves was a punt return challenge this past weekend.
Three players were selected to field punts on Clarence T.C. Ching Field Saturday with a quite simple scenario presented. Catch two of the three punts and the team would be relieved of extra conditioning.
The first player was freshman defensive lineman Alesana Sunia, who failed to catch the punt. With the pressure on, sophomore linebacker Malachi Mageo kept the team alive with a clean catch. Which then left it all in the hands of junior offensive lineman Dejon Allen, who did not disappoint.
Number-50 took a booming punt from Rigoberto Sanchez and not only cleanly caught it against his chest, but returned it to the end zone with his entire team along side him.
“It’s pretty stressful, because everyone is hoping I catch it and I’m thinking about the ball, and it’s in the air and I’m thinking about if I’m going to catch it or not,” said Allen. “It’s pretty stressful, but I got the job done. Yeah, I’m definitely going to do that if he wants me too.”
Rolovich posted video of the celebration on Instagram, and many noticed one player’s reaction in particular. Senior defensive back Dejaun Butler did a handspring back flip as the rest of the team danced in the end zone, leading KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello to ask Butler where he learned how to do that.
“Honestly, I really learned from some guys at my junior college. We used to go out there and guys would be doing some crazy flips and I would be like, I could do that. I know I got the athletic ability to do some flips,” said Butler.
When asked if UH fans could see that celebration in a game, the defensive back responded, “I mean you might see that. You might have to see that.”
However, not everyone was impressed with Butler.
“Yeah, not impressed at all,” joked sophomore slot back Dylan Collie. “I think his landing was a little off. It was a little out of control. That initial spring off the top could use some serious work. I don’t think he spent enough time watching Rio. I spent the weekend watching Rio so just stay tuned for the next little moment, and I think you’ll see a much better roundoff back tuck.”
Wow, judges are brutal.
Rainbow Warriors continue training camp Wednesday with the last practice open to the public set for Friday morning.
The ‘Bows will hold a controlled scrimmage on Saturday at Aloha Stadium. Kickoff against California in Australia is set for Aug. 26.