Less than three weeks away from the opening of NFL training camps across the league, Honolulu’s Michael Bennett hosted an off-season pro football camp of his own in the Aloha State.
Hawaii Optimum Performance’s 10-day program features a dozen professional athletes invited by the Seahawks defensive end and reigning Pro Bowl Most Valuable Player to take part in workouts at a handful of locations across the island.
Among them are Punahou graduates Manti Te’o, a linebacker with the San Diego Chargers, and DeForest Buckner, a defensive end with the San Francisco 49ers.
Joining them are 49ers DE Arik Armstead, Seahawks DE Cliff Avril, Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney, and others.
The workouts, which took the group to Mililani High School and the HOP facility in Waipio Wednesday, are just a part of a program that concentrates on physical training, along with position-specific drills and rehab work, with an added emphasis on family time at the end of the day.
“I just want to show people that Hawaii is just as good as Arizona or Florida or California to train,” said Bennett. “I want athletes from around the world to know that there’s a place that they can come to in Hawaii and also have an atmosphere where they can have fun with their family. You know, all the other places you go to, LA, it’s not fun for your kids. Hawaii is fun for your kids, snorkeling and everything. So why not come here and train with us at our gym?”
Bennett, known as a larger-than-life character in the islands, has set a tone of working hard and having fun.
KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello asked Te’o jokingly if the group would be the greatest cast in MTV Real World history, being that they are spending nearly two weeks together in the islands. Te’o responded with a chuckle: “We all have great personalities. Everybody brings a certain flavor to the group. Definitely, Mike is always clowning. I love to have a good time. We have all these guys, all these alphas working together trying to become better. It’s good.”
Teammates at Oregon two years ago, Buckner and Armstead both head to 49ers training camp in two weeks glad that they’re putting in the work in a paradise setting.
“I didn’t even know Mike and he just texted me out of the blue. Just learning from him, I am very grateful,” said Buckner.
“A lot of people don’t see the hard work that we put in on the off-season. I think they think everyone is just relaxing and chilling, but we’re preparing for the year. We’re training hard and I think it will pay off in the year,” said Armstead.
The training program is scheduled to continue until next Tuesday with NFL training camps starting to open between July 26-30.