It was in December 2001, shortly after completing his senior season at the University of Hawaii, when Nick Rolovich learned he was suffering from incurable football fever.
"Certain guys have a sickness where leaving football is almost impossible," Rolovich said. "I think I was diagnosed with that pretty early."
|"We’re going to try to
develop chemistry —
between the receivers
and the O-line, and
within the receiving
crew. I feel good about
Rolovich is entering his second year as the Warriors’ offensive coordinator and third as play-caller. He faces a demanding challenge when the Warriors, who return only two offensive starters — quarterback Bryant Moniz and right wideout Royce Pollard — begin spring training today.
"We’re going to try to develop chemistry — between the receivers and the O-line, and within the receiving crew," Rolovich said. "I feel good about our team."
Rolovich said Shane Austin, who will be a senior in the fall, David Graves, Cayman Shutter and Corey Nielsen will receive equal reps in the competition for the No. 2 quarterback job. Kevin Spain, who had shoulder surgery last summer, might be limited in his number of spring reps.
"We have a good idea of what Shane can do," Rolovich said of Austin. "We want to evaluate all of the quarterbacks. It’s getting some depth, and some insight to what our future might look like."
Rolovich said Moniz will get a lot of work with the top receivers. That group includes wideouts Pollard, Billy Ray Stutzmann, Darius Bright, Joe Avery and Cecil Doe, and slotbacks Terence Bell and Allen Sampson.
Miah Ostrowski, who is projected as a top candidate at right slotback, is playing with the UH basketball team. Rolovich said Bell will practice at right slotback until "Miah gets back with us." After that, Bell likely will move to left slotback.
Stutzmann, who is listed as a right wideout, will get some work at slotback. Bright will start off at left wideout and, if he masters that position, will audition at slotback.
"I want (Bright) to feel comfortable at one position first," Rolovich said.
Rolovich said Doe, who transferred from a junior college in January, came from a run-oriented system.
"This (offense) is much different than what he’s been in," Rolovich said. "His strengths are attacking the ball when it’s in the air. He appears to have good hands from the films we’ve watched of him."
Rolovich said he hopes a "sleeper" will emerge at receiver. One prospect is slotback Corey Paclebar, who missed the 2009 season because of a broken arm and was used sparingly in 2010.
"He’s in a good place, as far as mentality-wise," Rolovich said. "He’s ready. He’s got quickness and he understands the system. As long as you can do those two things, you have a chance to play."
Rolovich said Justin Clapp is regarded as the "handyman." Clapp can play all four receiver positions.
"He plays very hard," Rolovich said. "And he’s matured. He has a desire to get on the field. He gives us a bigger, tougher body if we go that route."
Rolovich said Sterling Jackson will offer skills different from Alex Green, last year’s starting running back.
"Sterling has underestimated speed," Rolovich said. "He’s a very tough, strong runner. He’ll be a little more north-south. A.G. had some quick feet. He could give one move and go. I think Sterling will run through more tackles and get us some tough yards."
Rolovich said there is some experience on the offensive line. Matagisila Lefiti and Brett Leonard are seniors who will rotate between left guard and center. Left tackle Clayton Laurel also is entering his final season. Chauncy Winchester-Makainai should earn a starting job on the right side, and freshmen Dave Lefotu, Sean Shigematsu, Frank Loyd and Jordan Loeffler will compete for playing time.
"You’ve got a bunch of hungry guys who are smelling their opportunity," Rolovich said of the young linemen. "The thing is, we’re not bringing anybody else in. These are the guys. We feel good about them. They need to find their place in the O-line."