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Regaining the Trust of the team

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UH quarterback, David Graves, who is challenging Bryant Moniz for the starting spot.

Fifteen minutes after the morning 7-on-7 passing drills concluded, Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz remained on the Ching Athletic Complex field—alone—running sprints.

"I’m trying to do extra work," Moniz said.

Moniz has a lot to make up—in regaining both his quarterback crispness and the trust of his teammates.

"There were a lot of people looking to me to step up and play good and lead the team," Moniz said. "I let a lot of guys down doing that—on the team, off the team, my family members."

Moniz, who entered the 2009 training camp as the Warriors’ No. 4 quarterback, ended the season atop the depth chart. The coaches proclaimed Moniz as the starting quarterback at the start of training camp.

But on April 8, after the sixth of 15 spring practices, Moniz was placed on what was termed "personal leave." Neither the coaches nor Moniz will confirm publicly the reason the Leilehua High graduate was indefinitely excused from participating in practices, meetings and other team activities.

The "leave" extended through the remaining three weeks of spring training.

At the final team meeting of the spring, Moniz stood at the podium in the UH athletic complex auditorium, then issued an emotional mea culpa.

"It was hard to face your teammates and apologize for not being there," Moniz said. "It was rough, but I got through it. I’m very sorry."

Soon after that, head coach Greg McMackin announced that Moniz would rejoin the team.

Moniz said he has tried to keep fit by working out up to three times a day. He trains with his girlfriend’s brother and several former high school classmates at Leilehua. He now weighs 207 pounds, 15 more than at the end of the 2009 season.

On Monday, the Warriors started their summer conditioning program, which includes unsupervised 7-on-7 drills. Moniz yesterday participated in his first team passing drills since his leave.

"It was hard, like an injury," Moniz said of his absence. "You never know when the game is going to be taken away from you. I had a lot of time to think. It was rough being away, but it gave me time to get straightened out, and get myself ready to come back out here."

Moniz, who will be a fourth-year junior this coming season, has been told he will receive a football scholarship in August. In the meantime, he continues to work delivering pizzas in Mililani. He also is set to begin a job as a Waikiki beach boy next week.

As for winning back his teammates, Moniz said: "I’ll just come back and resume my role on the team, whatever that is. … I’ll still be the same person I was when I first walked on, when I was third string."

McMackin has said that Moniz, Shane Austin, David Graves and Brent Rausch are grouped in the "first tier." Those quarterbacks will split most of the reps early in training camp. McMackin said the plan eventually is to give most of the reps to the top two quarterbacks.

"I like the challenge," Moniz said. "Shane and Dave and all of the other guys are doing a really good job. I’m a lot further behind. I have to catch up. I’ve been there before. I know what I’ve got to go through."

During yesterday’s session, Moniz admittedly struggled. After his first pass sailed wide, a teammate said, "Rusty."

But he said his right (throwing) arm is better than it was last season, when he suffered from arm "fatigue."

"I don’t think I threw any passes over 10 yards," Moniz said of yesterday’s workout. "My arm feels good. I had a lot of rest, a lot of strengthening my shoulder."

Graves said: "It was good to see B. We didn’t see him for so long. He looked good."

Moniz said he understands the scrutiny placed on a quarterback expected to lead.

"It doesn’t bother me," Moniz said. "The way I look at it, people are going to make judgments. I’m still going to be me. I’m going to play ball the way I play ball."


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