SALT LAKE CITY » Greg Salas had chills—and they were multiplying.
"I had sweats and chills," Salas said in a raspy voice. "My body was aching. I had it pretty bad."
But Salas, a University of Hawaii slotback, downed some over-the-counter cold medicine, and then participated in his scheduled interview sessions with broadcast and newspaper reporters yesterday at the Western Athletic Conference Football Media Preview.
"He’s a Warrior," said defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga, who also represented UH at this three-day event in the Hilton Hotel.
Salas, a fifth-year senior who is considered the Warriors’ top pro prospect—he received the highest marks from the NFL’s two scouting services—also will be the face of the program. He is featured on the cover of the UH football media guide, with a Jersey Shore tan and a no-prisoners stare.
"Love the b.a. look," mused Nathan Enderle, Idaho’s starting quarterback.
"They told me to make mean faces," Salas said. "They said, ‘Keep your chin down, and look mean at the camera.’"
UH announced the launching of a website—CatchGregSalas.com—designed to promote his All-America candidacy.
"There’s no added pressure," Salas said of the UH-generated promotions. "I like it. It’s fun. I’m confident in my abilities, but I was able to do what I did last year because our team helped me out."
During the interview session, each player was stationed at his own table. From a few feet away, Meatoga watched as reporters huddled around Salas.
"I have a website, too," Meatoga said, smiling. "It’s called Facebook.com."
Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams; first-place votes in parentheses
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Both players acknowledge that it will take more than social networks to relay their message that the Warriors are better than predicted. They were fifth (out of nine WAC teams) in the WAC coaches’ poll, and seventh in the media poll.
"We’re going to be up there," Salas argued. "I know what we’re capable of. We have to go out and show it."
Meatoga said the predictions will serve as a "wake-up call. We know we’re better than where we were predicted. It’s a matter of producing on Saturday nights."
The preseason polls will be printed, and then taped onto the walls in the UH locker room and weight room. Tommy Heffernan, UH’s strength and conditioning coach, had started the practice of recycling critical articles into motivational devices.
One of the posted stories recalled Kamehameha’s invasion of Maui. After arriving on the Valley Island’s shores, Kamehameha ordered the lashings to be cut from the canoes.
"There was no turning back for them," Meatoga said. "They were there to win or die. That story gave a lot of the mainland guys an idea of the warriors who came from Hawaii."
Heffernan, who replaced Mel deLaura as the lead strength coach, implemented a strict offseason workout program.
"It was like night and day," Meatoga said. "A lot of people took it upon themselves to get bigger and stronger and faster."
The players organized twice-weekly practices in which they worked in position groups before competing in 11-on-11 drills. Meatoga said workout attendance has been nearly perfect among the players who were on the island.
Salas seized a leadership role. He remained in Hawaii this summer instead of training in California, and added several pounds of what he called "good weight."
"Not a lot of cheeseburgers," Salas said. "I’m eating right."
McMackin said in his five years at UH, including two as defensive coordinator, this was the most productive offseason.
"People are tired of how we were performing," Meatoga said. "The players decided to make changes."