It took 18 months for University of Hawaii football player Veni Manu to make a first impression.
Manu, a defensive end and 2009 Mililani High graduate, was among more than 20 first-year Warriors to report to training camp yesterday.
The remainder of the Warriors on the 105-player roster for training camp, including the dozen or so who joined in January, will report today. The first practice is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.
"It feels good to make it," said Manu, who took the circuitous route through red tape and paperwork after signing a letter of intent in February 2009.
Manu did not attend UH during the 2009 fall semester while attempting to earn a higher SAT score. He achieved that goal, then waited to be cleared to play for the Warriors.
"I’m happy to be a Warrior," Manu said. "I’m nervous, but it feels good to be able to take the next step."
Manu’s ongoing goal is to regain the 40 pounds he lost while sitting out the past year. Manu, who is 6-foot-3, weighed 245 when he signed with UH 18 months ago. He was down to 205 pounds two months ago, but now is up to 215.
Manu and the other newcomers attended an orientation session yesterday on academics and the football-related schedule, met with academic counselors and the life-skills coordinator, and toured the campus.
BROWN DINGED UP
Aaron Brown, a strong-side linebacker who was projected to play extensively in several defensive schemes, suffered a sprained right ankle and will not be available for at least the first week of training camp.
"Luckily, it’s not broken," said Brown, who was on crutches yesterday.
He said he suffered the injury when he landed awkwardly doing plyometrics, exercises that involve jumping onto boxes.
Brown and Paipai Falemalu are listed as the top strong-side linebackers. In two schemes, both are on the field at the same time as linebackers, and in another, Falemalu slides to defensive end while Brown remains at linebacker.
UH head coach Greg McMackin said many of the freshmen took advantage of the "bridge" term implemented this summer. The six-week session offers two three-credit classes that run through the start of training camp. The session enabled newscomers to get acclimated to college life without the pressure of football-related demands.
"They get to earn credits that will give them a head start toward a degree," McMackin said.
Dee Maggitt, a cornerback from Washington, said arriving in Hawaii last month enabled him to work out with future teammates during unsupervised drills.
Siaki Cravens, who played at Utah as a freshman, then attended a junior college through last month, said he looks forward to the rustic conditions of training camp. Once again, the Warriors will turn two dance studios into barracks for the next two weeks.
"We won’t mind," Cravens said. "This will bring us together as a team, even if we’ll be in a place we’re not used to. Living together and working together will make us a closer team, and that’s going to help us this season."
Austin Hansen, a fourth-year junior projected to start at left tackle, was one of several veteran players who welcomed the newcomers yesterday.
"Everybody is excited to work hard, and have our fans support us," Hansen said. "We have the best fans in the world."