Less than a week into fall camp and there’s already a raspy quality to Tony Tuioti’s voice.
In his first fall camp as a defensive line coach, Tuioti often turns the volume to 11 to push the intensity in preparing the group for the coming season.
"I just get so excited. I tell the guys every morning, I’ve just got too much energy for them," Tuioti said "It’s just a blessing to be able to come out and coach football. Anything I can do to help these guys, I’m going to do it and I’m going to push them."
A former defensive tackle himself, Tuioti served as director of player personnel the past two years and is getting his hands dirty in working with the line as a full-time assistant, concentrating on the tackles while Cal Lee coaches the defensive ends.
And after two years of working the phones while dealing with recruits, it didn’t take long for Tuioti to find his voice on the field.
"He started off as this nice guy; now he’s getting a little louder and in your face when you’re not doing your stuff right," junior tackle Vaughn Meatoga said.
Meatoga is the leading returnee on the defensive front, with Haku Correa joining him as the first unit tackles. Liko Satele and Kamalu Umu have been first up at the ends.
While Meatoga is among the longest-tenured of the linemen and has taken a leadership role, "It’s not like I have to go outside my limits and be on these guys, because a lot of them take it upon themselves to get better," he said.
Tuioti and Lee have one of the biggest position groups to oversee, with 18 defensive linemen in fall camp as the Warriors work to develop depth among the front four. Kaniela Tuipulotu, who sat out last year after transferring from Arizona, and sophomore Geordon Hanohano are in the group behind Meatoga and Correa.
Elliott Purcell also returns at defensive end after starting eight games last season, and junior college transfer Siaki Cravens adds a speed-rushing element to the unit.
"Up front we need to find eight guys who can play," Tuioti said. "The style we want to play is fast and aggressive, and we’re going to be rolling guys (into the game)."
Getting a jump
John Hardy-Tuliau didn’t wait long to build on his reputation as a gifted kick blocker. The freshman cornerback knocked down a field-goal attempt during Saturday’s practice and got his hands on another during a drill yesterday.
Hardy-Tuliau set a California state record with 26 blocks at Vista Murrieta High School, knocking down five as a senior.
"Just get off the ball," Hardy-Tuliau said of his key to blocking kicks. "Just trying to get to the ball as fast as I can."
While getting on the field can be tough for a true freshman, performing on special teams can accelerate that process. Mike Wadsworth was an immediate contributor on special teams last year before embarking on his Mormon mission this summer.
"There’s a number of these guys in this class who have a chance and we’re going to have to really evaluate and make some tough decisions on whether they’re going to play this year or not," UH special teams coordinator Chris Tormey said. "If we think they can help us win, as Mike Wadsworth did a year ago, we’re going to go ahead and play them."