Following Tuesday’s morning practice at the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex practice field, the 13th of the spring practice session, four University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warrior football players were bestowed with the highest honor an athlete can receive from their teammates-the opportunity to lead as a captain.
Head coach Norm Chow announced the team’s selection of four captains for the 2015 season on Tuesday, as designated by a full team voting process. Those leaders in the fall-all seniors-will be offensive lineman Ben Clarke, defensive back Ne’Quan Phillips, linebacker Lance Williams and quarterback Max Wittek.
“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Chow said. “When captains are voted on by their peers, it’s a very important honor, and I expect them to provide some real leadership. In order for us to become a good football team, it will depend on that leadership.”
“We have four seniors and what’s even more interesting is they come from four different parts of the country,” Chow continued. “That’s what makes it even more important, because this group will become a team once we get the leadership in place.”
With the geographical spread of the chosen captains, and varying levels of UH experience, each member will be an impact player on their respective side of the ball.
Hailing from Littleton, Colo., Clarke started all 13 games last season at left tackle and was named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year for the second time in his career. He also garnered all-Mountain West honorable mention recognition for the third consecutive year, was on the Lombardi Award Watch List throughout the season and was chosen third team all-MW by media outlets Phil Steele and College Sports Madness. In addition, Clarke has proven a leader in the classroom as well, earning Academic all-Mountain West honors each season.
A Miami native, Phillips is another three-year player and has started 28 games for the green and white, appearing in 37 in the defensive secondary. Last season, Phillips recorded a team fourth-best 54 tackles (47 solo, 7 assisted), including six for loss and three sacks, forcing one fumble and scooping another. He also collected six pass breakups and one interception. He was previously selected for all-Mountain West honorable mention during his sophomore campaign.
Representing O’ahu on the list of captains is Williams, a Farrington High School graduate, who has made eight starts at linebacker, but has been a fixture over his career at UH, playing in 35 games. Last season, he registered 25 tackles (11 solo, 14 assisted), including one for loss. He also collected a fumble recovery, one hurry and blocked two kicks for the Rainbow Warriors.
Finally, newcomer Wittek originally hails from Norwalk, Conn., and came to UH from the University of Southern California. He is expected to be a major factor in the quarterback competition in the fall after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. At USC, he appeared in 13 games between the 2013 and 2013 seasons, starting two games, combining for 600 yards passing on 50-for-95 (52.6 percent) completions, accounting for four touchdowns.
The Rainbow Warriors have two practices remaining in spring football, and will open the 2015 season on Thursday, Sept. 3 on Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium in a nationally televised contest against Pac-12 foe Colorado. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. and will air on CBS Sports Network.