Sure, Hawaii slotback Greg Salas was pleased to be named to the Associated Press’ All-America third team yesterday.
But Salas, who has 272 career receptions entering the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl, was focused on one more completion.
"I’m working on a paper," Salas told his father, Mark Salas, during a congratulatory telephone call yesterday.
This is UH’s final-exam week, and Salas has been working to complete projects necessary for a bachelor’s degree. He will participate in Saturday’s graduation ceremony.
"That’s what makes me the proudest," Mark Salas said. "He gets to graduate. He was looking forward to that this year."
UH offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich acknowledged Salas has met all of the Warriors’ requirements.
"He’s worked hard to get the All-America honor," Rolovich said. "He never got into any trouble. He’s graduating. Talk about somebody who has gone through college as a student-athlete the right way. I don’t know what else you can ask for."
This season, Salas has 106 receptions — equaling last year’s total — for 1,675 yards, 29 short of Jason Rivers’ UH single-season record.
Mark Salas said his son always has been gifted athletically, noting, "He played baseball, basketball, roller-bladed. It wasn’t just football. But football was something he loved the most."
Mark Salas said his son’s athletic ability was apparent at an early age.
"I don’t know what side of the family that came from," Mark Salas said, laughing. "I think we got somebody else’s kid. He’s special. He’s a kid who always did amazing things."
Rolovich added: "The thing that sets him apart is his competitiveness, and his desire to win. He likes to have fun, but once he steps inside the lines, he’s very focused on winning and making the play. He yearns to be the guy who makes the play."
Salas said he tried to model his play after Charles Woodson’s. Salas said he became a fan after attending the Rose Bowl, during which Woodson starred on both offense and defense for Michigan.
Still, he admitted, "I never thought about college when I was first trying out (for Pop Warner)."
His family said he has changed little since then.
"His childhood friends are still his friends," Mark Salas said. "They’ll always be his friends."
Salas and his Chino (Calif.) High teammate Joey Lipp both signed with UH in 2006.
"I’ve known him since second or third grade," Salas said of Lipp, who completed his UH eligibility last year. "We had X-Men cards. We played around at recess. We went over to his house to swim. He had a big swimming pool with a diving board."
At UH, they formed a core group of friends — safety Spencer Smith, slotbacks Kealoha Pilares and Rick Taylor, defensive back Leroy Lutu Jr., and former Warriors Matt Mielke and Travis Smith.
"I’m a loyal friend — to the friends back home and the friends I’ve met out here," he said. "If we’re not at my apartment, we’re at Kealoha’s or Spencer’s house, watching TV or playing video games or writing papers."
Salas was accompanied by his parents during his recruiting trip. Two things were appealing: 1) the chance to play receiver, and 2) to gain independence.
"My father wanted me to go away and experience something as different as possible," Salas said. "He told me: ‘You’re not going to have many opportunities like this for free.’ I’ve had a great time out here.
"And to get (an All-America honor), to be thought of as one of the best players in the country, I’m humbled and honored," he added. "I’m thankful to my teammates, coaches, family and friends. A lot of people have contributed to my success, and helped me become the man I am today."