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Senior MLB rises, shines after a rude awakening

By Billy Hull

LAST UPDATED: 8:03 p.m. HST, Aug 28, 2013


Brenden Daley stormed out the door with a ferocity generally reserved for chasing opposing quarterbacks on the football field.

One foot after the other, Daley pounded the Dole Street pavement as he rushed to school, not knowing how the next few minutes would change his college football career.

"It was the scariest moment of my life," the University of Hawaii senior said. "I ran the fastest I've ever ran."

Daley missed his alarm and showed up late to a UH practice last season, breaking one of coach Norm Chow's most important rules.

It cost him a seat on the plane for one of UH's four road trips.

But it also gave him some perspective.

"It was a bad situation," Daley said. "Right there I turned things around."

After splitting time as the starter as a junior, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound middle linebacker hopes to have the position on lockdown this year.

A transfer from Ventura junior college, Daley was recruited to Hawaii under the previous staff, but had a special bond with the one coach who stayed with the Rainbow Warriors through the transition.

Tony Tuioti was the defensive line coach when he recruited Daley, who was ranked as one of the top 50 junior college prospects in the country.

Now, as UH's linebackers coach, Tuioti takes even more of an interest in Daley's every move.

"Brenden is doing everything we ask him to do to become a better football player," Tuioti said. "He's been unblockable this camp. He's been the guy we expected him to be when we recruited him."

An ex-Rainbow himself, Tuioti's passion has worn off on Daley ever since the two met on the recruiting trail.

If anything, that passion has gotten stronger since, and it's the motivation that has carried Daley through a tough fall camp in preparation for the Aug. 29 season opener against Southern California.

"Tony worked his magic (recruiting me) and I fell in love with Hawaii and what it meant to be a Warrior just from the passion he showed," Daley said. "He's a diehard Warrior and it's something we take to heart. Every day we want to be good for him because he bleeds that Warrior pride."

Daley's pride is evident by the tattoo of two hands holding the planet Earth he got on his stomach just after signing with Hawaii in 2011.

Even as he missed his entire first season with a broken foot, the tattoo kept him focused on what he came here to do.

"It represents hard work — the world in those hands — and how to work hard to make a good life," Daley said. "I want to be the best and be the guy that gave his team the best chance to win every week.

"No matter what role I have or what package I'm in, I want to say I gave my team the best chance to win."

UH went 2-3 in Daley's five starts last year, including a brutal 42-27 loss to Colorado State in which Daley had seven tackles and an interception.

Getting after the quarterback has never been a problem for Daley, who had 10 sacks as a sophomore in junior college.

In defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer's 3-4 system however, the ability to drop back in pass coverage is just as important.

It's been a big focal point for Daley during camp.

"We're asking a lot of that guy because of the position he fills for us," Tuioti said. "He's worked so hard to get himself to become more flexible, faster, stronger. He's the quarterback of our defense and he understands everything he needs to do to make our team better."


Marquee Performer: Marqise Lee demonstrated his big-play potential just 14 seconds into last seasons opener against Hawaii. Lee turned a quick hitch into a 75-yard touchdown on USCs first play from scrimmage and later returned a kickoff 100 yards for another score. Lee went on to lead the nation in receptions (118) while ranking second in receiving yards per game and third in all-purpose yards and enters this season with Heisman Trophy aspirations.

QB questions: With Matt Barkleys departure, sophomores Max Wittek and Cody Kessler and freshman Max Browne entered fall camp even in the race to claim the starting spot. Wittek started USCs final two games losses to Notre Dame and Georgia Tech (Sun Bowl) in place of an injured Barkley. He attempted 69 passes and threw three touchdowns and five interceptions.

Experience up front:Leading rusher Silas Redd returns along with four starters on the offensive line. Sophomore Max Tuerk earned All-America honors as a tackle but moved to guard in the spring.


Leadership change:Monte Kiffin left after a trying 2012 season and new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast installed a 5-2 base system.

Holding the front: Outside linebacker Morgan Breslin recorded 13 of USCs 45 sacks last season and four other members of the starting front seven are back. Defensive end Leonard Williams (6 feet 5, 290 pounds) is on the watch lists for the major defensive awards.

Secondary concerns:The Trojans replace three-fourths of the starting secondary, including leading tackler TJ McDonald.



Stocked at QB: Senior Cody Vaz and junior Sean Mannion renew their competition for the starting job after splitting action last year. The 6-foot-5 Mannion threw for 2,446 yards and 15 touchdowns in 10 appearances in 2012. Vaz played in seven games and tossed 11 TD passes against three interceptions. Whoever gets the starting nod will be aided by the considerable skills of flanker Brandin Cooks, who accounted for 1,151 yards and five touchdowns last season.

Front and center: Center Isaac Seumalo, son of former UHdefensive lineman and current OSU assistant coach Joe Seumalo, was named a freshman All-American last season and is one of four returning starters on the offensive line. The group helped Storm Woods rush for 940 yards and 13 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman.


End rush: Scott Crichton is one of the Pac-12s top returning defensive linemen after registering 1712 tackles for losses, including nine sacks, for an OSU defense that ranked second in the Pac-12 and 22nd nationally in scoring defense.

Experience in the secondary:The Beavers have ample experience in their defensive backfield, led by senior cornerback Rashaad Reynolds (75 tackles, three interceptions, 13 passes broken up) and junior free safety Ryan Murphy.

Island influence: The Beavers lost both starting defensive tackles, including Waipahu grad Castro Masaniai, and Hawaii high school graduates Alii Robins (Saint Louis) and Mana Rosa (Baldwin) are among the contenders to fill those roles.

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