POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 28, 2010
SALT LAKE CITY » Five months after signing day, New Mexico State head football coach DeWayne Walker remains "shocked" the Aggies were able to land Hawaii's 2009 high school offensive player of the year.
Speaking at the Western Athletic Conference Football Media Preview yesterday, Walker confirmed that former Leilehua High quarterback Andrew Manley will have a chance to compete for playing time as a true freshman this year.
"In a perfect world, you'd like to redshirt him," Walker said. "But he's capable of being our second or third quarterback. I'm not afraid to play him this year if he learns (the offense)."
Hawaii head coach Greg McMackin acknowledged he made a scholarship offer in July 2008, when Manley was entering his junior year at Leilehua. McMackin made a second offer the following summer.
With four quarterback prospects on the Warriors' radar, each was told the scholarship would go to the first to accept. When Manley opted to explore other options before making a decision, the UH scholarship went to Kevin Spain. McMackin said he had a grayshirt opportunity, in which Manley could join the Warriors in January 2011, if he could not secure another scholarship.
Soon after, Walker recalled, he received a call from "some buddies who live" on Oahu. "They said we have a quarterback up here who's being under-recruited."
Walker then reviewed Manley's highlight video.
"It was like, 'Geez, he's a good player,'" Walker said. "We got him on the phone, got him on the (recruiting) visit, sold him on our vision, and he jumped in. We feel like we stole a good player. We feel there are a lot of schools who dropped the ball on his recruitment."
Walker said Manley has the skills to be a successful NCAA quarterback.
"He's so mature," Walker said. "He has good size. He has good arm strength. He loves the game. He has great passion for the game of football. He's a leader. I think he's going to be a heck of a football player in our conference."
The Aggies brought in Mike Dunbar to implement the spread offense this season.
To keep defenses off-balance, Manley will "have to do some quarterback run stuff," Walker said. "He doesn't have to be great at it. He has to be able to provide a threat that he is capable of running. With what he can do throwing the ball, and his football IQ, and his leadership, he's what you're looking for at quarterback."
As an assistant coach on offense at Texas Tech, Sonny Dykes had to face off against a veteran defensive coordinator during every practice. That coordinator was McMackin, who is entering his third season as UH head coach.
"I really, really like Greg as a person," said Dykes, now Louisiana Tech's head coach. "He obviously has a great coaching background."
At Tech, Dykes recalled, "We went against each other a lot. I felt Greg was a great team guy. That's what stands out to me. I was a young coach at the time. Watching Greg coach for (then-Tech head coach) Mike Leach, who was strictly an offensive guy—which was sometimes hard on a defensive coordinator—I felt Greg did a great job of handling it. He was the ultimate team player."
Another member of that Tech staff was Dave Aranda, a graduate assistant. Aranda joined McMackin's staff as an assistant coach in 2008. The past February, Aranda was promoted to defensive coordinator.
"He's one of the brightest young coaches in the game," Dykes said of Aranda. "I think he's a very dedicated hard worker. He has a bright future ahead of him. I don't know if I've been around anyone who has a better work ethic than Dave does."
These are tough economic times for California's state universities. But the WAC's two California members—Fresno State and San Jose State—have worked to save money.
Fresno State head coach Pat Hill has accepted work furloughs, as well as volunteered to take a pay cut.
San Jose State, meanwhile, is reporting a balanced athletic department budget. The Spartans' fiscal efficiency is traced to a strong fundraising campaign, as well as support from state funds and a student athletics fee.
SJSU sports information director Lawrence Fan has set the tone. Fan, who needed to deliver seven boxes of media guides to the WAC Football Media Preview and the University of Utah, decided to drive instead of travel by plane. He said he saved the department a significant amount in airfare and shipping charges.
The distance between San Jose and Salt Lake City is about 800 miles. Fan filled up his car's gas tank five times during the round trip. He stayed in a motel that charged less than $50.