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Smith eager to play

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Hawaii safety Spencer Smith got the OK to play from his doctor on Monday.
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Milk: It does a Hawaii football player’s body good.

After a regimen of physical therapy, running, calcium tablets and milk, safety Spencer Smith resumed practicing yesterday with the Warriors.

Smith had not practiced since suffering a fractured right forearm in the second game against Army on Sept 11.

After yesterday’s 90-minute workout, in which he played on defense and special teams, Smith declared himself fit.

"It’s like riding a bike," Smith said.

Smith will be included on the travel roster for Saturday’s game against second-ranked Boise State at Bronco Stadium. The Warriors depart this afternoon.

"We have to find a way to get him involved," defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said. "He’s a playmaker."

Smith said: "I’ll play anywhere — special teams, defense, defensive tackle. It was frustrating sitting out all of those weeks. I miss playing with all of the boys."

During home games, Smith helped chart the play of the UH nickel backs.

"They embraced me, but because I wasn’t able to practice, I felt I wasn’t earning my keep," Smith said.

That feeling amplified when the Warriors were on the road. Because road telecasts are available only on a pay-per-view basis, Smith watched in a University Avenue restaurant. He sat alone, with a plate of chicken wings and a pitcher of water.

"It’s not the same as being on the field," Smith said. "You can’t see everything. You hear people talking, and sometimes they don’t know what they’re talking about."

Smith always targeted the Boise State game for his return. But the past three weeks, he would ask the doctor for clearance. Each time, he was denied — until this past Monday, when a CAT scan showed that the forearm had fully healed.

"(The doctor) said, ‘Go ahead,’" Smith recalled. "He wrote my note, and off I went."

Rich Miano, who coordinates the defensive secondary, said Smith’s return should provide a boost. Smith was voted the Warriors’ top special-teams player in 2008 and top defender in 2009. He was selected as a team captain for the USC game.

"The guy has worked so hard with his rehab," Miano said. "His whole approach was to get back for this season, because he’s a senior, and this is such a special season."

Smith said he decided not to shave after he began his rehabilitation program. He now has a full beard and mustache.

"It was kind of my inspiration to get back," Smith said. "It was itchy. I decided I would shave it when I was cleared. I was like, ‘This will make me work hard to get cleared.’ But now everybody loves it. They’re telling me to keep it. I might keep it until I see my mom and she tells me to shave it off."

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