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Pilares’ draft stock rises despite loss

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    Bryant Moniz completed 27 passes for 330 yards and a touchdown to Kealoha Pilares.
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BOULDER, COLO. » The Hawaii starting slotback without the website and promotional campaign stood in the Colorado chill, trying to cool down.

Kealoha Pilares had an impressive performance — six catches for 117 yards and a touchdown — but those meant little compared with the other numbers: Colorado 31, UH 13.

"We have to (bleeping) win games now," Pilares said. "We gave away too many opportunities. We’re a better football team than that."

 

While the Warriors dropped to 1-2, Pilares’ stock improved.

Left slotback Greg Salas, UH’s All-America candidate, has received most of the attention from National Football League scouts.

But NFL scouts attending yesterday’s game said Pilares, the starting right slotback, has generated a buzz.

Pilares gained notice when he had two long scoring plays in the fourth quarter against Southern California. Pilares has been praised for his first-step quickness, sure hands and what is regarded as "miss-ability."

UH associate head coach Rich Miano, who serves as the Warriors’ pro liaison, has been told Pilares projects as an inside receiver.

"I think NFL teams are going more to three wide receivers," Miano said. "Wes Welker. Davone Bess. Kealoha is that type of player. I think the (NFL) schemes fit what he does."

Pilares showed his savvy when he turned a post route into an 80-yard gain yesterday. Pilares was able to make the catch while planning to juke an on-rushing safety.

Pilares said he avoids pondering a post-UH career.

"It’s a distraction," he said. "When the time comes, it comes. Right now, it’s UH."

But he acknowledged that from his first practice on the Manoa campus, in the spring of 2007, he knew he had to gain strength. He was asked to play running back, where he soon learned that his primary job was to block the rush end.

"Going up against Blaze (Soares) and David Veikune, I knew I had to get stronger," Pilares said. "It was a totally different game for me. It shocked me. I realized I wasn’t in high school anymore."

He spent more time in the weight room. In team testing the past spring, he power-cleaned 356 pounds, a team best.

His next goal is to improve his speed.

"I think I still don’t know how to run," he said. "I run just to run. There’s a technique to running faster. It’s more of a science than anything."

Miano said: "He’s smooth, and he’s fun to watch. But if he gets faster, that’s going to help his stock a lot more."

 

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