It will be a homecoming of sorts for Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz when the Warriors travel to Fresno, where Moniz once owned the bulldogs.
Well, make that two bulldog puppies, two poi dogs and four rabbits.
"I lived in a studio with all eight of my animals," said Moniz, recalling the 2007 fall semester when he was at Fresno City College. "I was a real student-athlete at Fresno. I had a 4.0 (grade-point average) in my one semester there. I didn’t have a car. My girlfriend was there, so I didn’t go to too many parties. I pretty much went to school and played football."
The time there, Moniz said, honed his football skills, helping ease the transition when he joined the Warriors a year later, in January 2009.
"It was a great time," said Moniz, a 2007 Leilehua High graduate. "It got me to where I am today."
Because California junior colleges do not offer football scholarships, Moniz’s mother paid for his tuition and living expenses. He shared his first apartment with four other guys. They split the expenses.
"There was a month where we didn’t have electricity," Moniz said. "The guy didn’t pay the bill. It was 100-something degrees. We had to take cold showers. There was no light. No refrigerator. It was an exciting time."
He eventually moved into the studio with his girlfriend, Kiley Kealoha.
They agreed to watch the puppies and rabbits.
"We like dogs, and it gave us something to take care of while we were there," Moniz recalled.
He said they bought their food from a nearby dollar-an-item store.
"It was nice living on your own," Moniz said. "We went grocery shopping. We made our own meals. I made spaghetti once with corned beef. I forgot to get meat. I just had the sauce and noodles. I looked in the cabinet, and I had some corned beef, so I used that. It was pretty good. I’ve got some chef skills."
Because Kiley was pregnant, the couple decided to move back to Wahiawa after that semester. In tribute to their time in the Central Valley, they named their daughter Cali.
"It sounds better than Fresno," Moniz said. "There were some (names) I thought of that my girlfriend didn’t like right off the bat. Cali has a nice ring to it."
The Warriors depart this afternoon for Saturday’s road game against Fresno State.
Moniz said he will not feel any sense of nostalgia playing against Fresno State.
"I went to Fresno City not Fresno State," he said. "Besides, our JC games didn’t have too big of a crowd. Everybody was at Fresno State’s games. Our games were on Saturdays, too. All of the people who went to our games were the families of players from that area. We had, maybe, two hundred or so, a thousand at the most, at our games. At that level, you’re playing football to play football."
But Moniz, who leads the nation in total offense, said he looks back fondly at his time in Fresno.
"I learned to become independent there," he said. "There were a lot of life’s lessons learned in Fresno."