POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 21, 2010
After receiving medical clearance yesterday, Matagisila Lefiti is prepared to compete for the Hawaii football team's starting center's job.
Lefiti suffered a fracture in his left foot during the Warriors' spring scrimmage, then underwent surgery. Lefiti, who began working out a few weeks ago, received approval to compete in this morning's practice.
"I'm ready to put on the pads and crack some heads," he said.
In Lefiti's absence, Bronson Tiwanak started UH's first three games this season.
Lefiti redshirted in 2007, then spent the next two seasons as the primary backup to center John Estes. Thing is, Estes started every game of a UH career that ended the past December.
Lefiti was the No. 1 center in spring training before suffering the foot injury.
"The littlest thing," he said of the fracture, "is the biggest thing for an offensive lineman. You're always on your feet."
Being sidelined, Lefiti said, "irritated the hell out of me."
Following a philosophy that starting jobs are not lost to injury, head coach Greg McMackin acknowledged Lefiti will receive some reps with the first team.
"We're going to battle," Lefiti said. "Bronson is looking solid. I have to give it my all. I can't come in there and mess around. He's been a solid center for us for three games. We'll see what happens. ... I think we're going to be together at the 1s. We'll see who the best man is."
Lefiti said he is "excited" to resume practicing.
His one regret?
"I was so upset we weren't going full gear (for today's practice)," he said, smiling. "I was like, 'What, no full gear? Just helmets and jerseys? Oh, damn.' I was looking forward to putting all of my gear on, taping it up, and going out there and learning."
McMackin said the coaches are debating whether to go with a smaller rotation on the defensive line.
He said they are considering "less substituting" and, perhaps, playing three defensive tackles and three ends each game.
"That's what we're thinking right now," McMackin said.
The top defensive tackles are Vaughn Meatoga, Kaniela Tuipulotu, Haku Correa, Geordon Hanohano and Zach Masch.
The ends who have played the most are Paipai Falemalu, Kamalu Umu, Liko Satele, Elliott Purcell, Alasi Toilolo and Siaki Cravens.
It appears that heralded junior college transfer Darius Bright will redshirt this season. Bright, who played at City College of San Francisco last year, entered UH with three years to play two seasons. He was on the travel roster for the two-game trip to Army and Colorado, but did not play in either game.
McMackin yesterday said that barring emergency situations, those eligible to redshirt who have not played in the first three games will not play this season.