Just when the University of Hawaii football defensive ends needed a boost, the spin doctor arrived.
Travis LaBoy, a former Warrior now a rush end with the San Francisco 49ers, yesterday offered tips on spin moves to the UH pass rushers during unsupervised workouts at the Ching Athletic Complex.
"He taught me his move," said Kamalu Umu, who is expected to start at defensive right end.
|"I needed to find a home,
and I think I found
it in San Francisco."
Umu said the move involves extending the left arm forward and, when the offensive tackles attempt a counter tactic, "your hips automatically turn and you’re around the corner."
Umu used that spin move during the ensuing 11-on-11 scrimmage.
"It worked," Umu said. "That’s a move I have to work on and try to make my No. 1 move. It’s nothing fancy, but it works. It’s a privilege for a guy like that to teach us his move. He’s a big help."
Maintaining a Texas-hold’em stare, LaBoy said: "Everybody has a little thing to work on. I give them advice. Nothing special. There’s no secret to it."
LaBoy is here on a vacation that ends today. He has been working out daily at UH in preparation for the start of the 49ers’ training camp in three weeks. After observing the players-only practice, he decided to offer some advice.
"He’s been through a lot," Umu said. "Having him talk to us means a lot."
LaBoy emphasized remaining focused, even while performing basic drills.
"If you’re not aware in practice, you’re not going to be aware in the game," LaBoy said. "If you’re not aware in the game, you might get your head knocked off. It’s always good to know what’s going on."
LaBoy, in turn, will draw attention as he continues his comeback with the 49ers.
The Tennessee Titans drafted LaBoy in the second round in 2004. After four seasons with the Titans, he left as a free agent, signing a five-year, $22-million contract with the Arizona Cardinals in 2008.
He had four sacks in the first four games of the 2008 season, then struggled thereafter, while suffering from torn biceps that eventually required surgery. In March 2009, he was released by the Cardinals. After that, he suffered a foot injury that kept him from playing in 2009.
"It’s all business," LaBoy said of the Cardinals’ decision to cut him. "It was a humbling experience. In the end, it was the best thing for me. San Francisco is where I wanted to be from the get-go. This was an avenue for me to get there."
LaBoy, who was raised in the Bay Area’s Marin County, said he grew up as a fan of the 49ers. In April, he signed a one-year contract worth $1.6 million.
"It’s like a second homecoming," LaBoy said.
LaBoy said he is fully healed after spending nearly a year rehabilitating. Sitting out the 2009 season "was hard," he said, "but it was good, too. It allowed my body to heal up."
He said he had no doubts he would play again in the NFL.
"I didn’t really care what people thought," he said. "It was more about what I thought. Whether people thought I could make a comeback or not, it didn’t affect me at all. I didn’t take the time to hear what other people said."
LaBoy said he received a few offers earlier this year.
"I needed to find a home, and I think I found it in San Francisco," he said. "I had a lot of options. But I wanted to be in San Francisco since I was a rookie. I took the opportunity to go there when I had it."
LaBoy is married to the former Nohea Tano, who played volleyball for the Rainbow Wahine. They run a foundation to assist children with autism.
"Life’s good," LaBoy said. "I can’t complain, I’ve been very blessed. I hang out with my family and my kids. That’s the most awesome time."
LaBoy, who started his UH career as a walk-on, said he has not lost his drive for the sport.
"I still rely on the same things that kept me going from day one – wanting to make a name for myself, and wanting to be remembered as a good player," LaBoy said. "And the love for football. I love the game."
For more Hawaii football, visit the Warrior Beat blog.