The University of Hawaii football team returned to campus to start its second full week of training camp on Monday morning, where among the position battles taking place is at returner.
Jojo Ward, Cedric Byrd, and Justice Augafa are among the players competing at kick-returner with experience on special teams last season. Joining the mix in 2019 is California transfer Melquise Stovall.
The former consensus four-star recruit and ranked as high as the No. 3 all-purpose back according to 247Sports out of Paraclete High School in Lancaster, California attended the University of California out of high school. As a true freshman, he appeared in 10-games with seven starts.
Following a season at Riverside City College, he made his way to UH where he is in competition at both slot back and returner. Knowing that there’s only one football and four positions at a time on the receiving end of the run-n-shoot, the playmaker is focused on forcing his way onto the field, even if it’s not on every snap offensively.
“I’ve always been kind of a special teams guy. Whether that’s punt, kickoff, kick return, punt return. I think it’s nice to have a plus one. Coach is always talking about having your plus one. Something that you can do other than your main position,” Stovall told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello.
Currently, Stovall is running with the second unit on offense in arguably the most entertaining position battle in camp with both Stovall and returning senior Jason-Matthew Sharsh trading spectacular catches in workouts.
“Me and Sharsh are still going back and forth battling for the starting position. Right now he has me so obviously I’m going to work just as hard n special teams so that can be kind of my main position if I don’t get the starting position, but you know, come out here work hard every day,” said Stovall.
When asked what excited him most about fielding a punt in the open field with fans waiting on the edge of their seat, Stovall explained that it’s an adrenaline rush that few things can compete with.
“There’s almost nothing like it. It’s a nervous feeling, it’s an exciting feeling. Just love it. When it’s a packed house and every is just waiting for that big moment. Just waiting for that game breaker moment. Man, I can’t wait. It’s been a long journey for me. Looking forward to what’s coming up.”
The Rainbow Warriors will open their 2019 season against Arizona at Aloha Stadium on August 24. The game will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network.