POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 5, 2010
When slot receiver Greg Salas left the field to a fourth-quarter ovation on University of Hawaii senior night there was one voice he couldn't miss amid the 34,746 in the Aloha Stadium din.
"Well, did you get it ... did you get it?" student assistant Ashley Lelie pressed from the sideline.
"It" is Lelie's UH and Western Athletic Conference nine-year-old single-season reception yardage record (1,713).
And the answer was a smiling "no" from Salas.
That was pretty much what passed for drama as the Warriors concluded their regular season with an early runaway 59-21 thumping of Nevada-Las Vegas.
On a night of salutes, Salas, one of the Warriors' most celebrated seniors, left some Christmas shopping to complete in the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl against Tulsa.
"Yeah," said receivers coach Mouse Davis, "Ashley said, 'You mean I have to come back for one more game to see him break my record?'"
Salas got five catches for 94 yards — and two touchdowns — but neither of the two records his 20 family members from Chino, Calif., in the stands were counting down. Not Lelie's nor Davone Bess' single-season reception mark (108).
Salas needs 39 yards to break Lelie's mark and three catches to pass Bess, two of the greatest receivers in UH history.
"I can wait," Salas said. "The main thing was we won the game and got (win) No. 10."
But, then, maybe the wait is altogether fitting, because patience is something Salas learned a lot about early in his five-year stay at UH. Talented and hard working, he nevertheless had to wait in line. A long one, it must have seemed. Salas redshirted in 2006 and mostly watched in 2007 as Bess, Ryan Grice-Mullen, Jason Rivers and C. J. Hawthorne grabbed most of the passes and playing time.
"I never thought about the records back then; they seemed so far away," Salas said. But by last year he and offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich, who had been a quarterback when Lelie was playing, saw the mark coming into view. "He was interested in not only the record but what Ashley did to get there, how he worked and prepared," Rolovich said.
For UNLV coach Bobby Hauck, once more Salas was the big one that got away for more than just the 22- and 54-yard touchdown receptions last night. Hauck and his staff thought they had Salas at their previous stop, Montana, in 2006. " We thought we were the only ones on him until Hawaii stole him from us at the very end of recruiting," Hauck said. "We thought we had him down to the last week and they swooped in and got him."
Lelie, a first-round draft choice of the Denver Broncos in 2002, has come to like what he has seen of his protege. So much, in fact, that Rolovich said Lelie implored him to put Salas back in the game to get the remaining catches and yards.
"He (Lelie) wants me to get it (and) he's happy for me," Salas said. "I know he's been a great help."
Of course, Lelie noted, "I've still got the touchdown (19 in a season) and yards gained (per game, 142.8) records. He's not going to get those."
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.