Ashley Lelie is a typical 30-year-old University of Hawaii student who earned a few million playing in the National Football League.
"I have a full load of classes, and I’m walking around with a backpack," Lelie said. "OK, it feels a little weird."
After exhausting an NFL career, Lelie is back on the UH campus, where he was a star receiver a decade earlier.
Lelie is serving in the non-coaching position of student manager for the Warriors. NCAA rules prohibit student managers, who receive tuition waivers, from on-field coaching.
"He can talk to kids personally off the field," UH coach Greg McMackin said.
Left wideout Darius Bright said Lelie is filling the mentor’s role.
"He played (wideout)," Bright said. "He knows a lot about the outside (position). He’s been giving us a lot of knowledge on a lot of stuff that worked for him. It’s great to listen to him."
Lelie missed the first 11 days of training camp while finishing business on the mainland. He said he recently sold his house in San Jose, Calif.
Moving back to Hawaii, he said, is "a little adjustment. Coming from the mainland, everything is a little faster, everybody is a little more aggressive. Here I get to relax a little bit. There’s not as much stress. It’s a good thing. I needed to slow down a little bit, and get my head straight, and see what I want to do."
For the next year, Lelie will be focused on football and school. Because he left UH after his junior year to apply for the 2001 NFL Draft, Lelie is 40 credits short of a bachelor’s degree. He said he will take five classes during the fall semester that begins Monday.
"Getting adjusted to (school) is going to be the tough part," Lelie said. "But I’m a history major. It’s just telling stories."
"My biggest thing is I want him to get his degree," McMackin said. "That’s really why I do this. If he can help us, that’s fine with me. But the goal is for him to complete his education."