Soon after the Hawaii football team’s first practice of spring training, quarterback Bryant Moniz yesterday experienced a senior moment.
"I do feel old," said Moniz, a 2007 Leilehua High graduate entering his third season as the Warriors’ No. 1 quarterback. "I was telling the guys: ‘How can you be here for six years? Guys who use the grayshirt and redshirt years … that’s a long time. I think every season you age twice as fast. It’s two years to one. It’s like a dog’s age. I feel old."
Moniz, one of two returning starters on offense, is assuming a greater leadership role this season.
"There’s a lot of work to do," Moniz said. "There are a lot of new guys to break in."
In addition to a new offensive line, there will be first-year starters at running back and three of the four receiver positions. Right wideout Royce Pollard is the other returning starter.
(Left tackle Austin Hansen, who started 12 games last season, is appealing an NCAA suspension that prevented him from playing in the Hawaii Bowl. School officials and coaches have declined to discuss the suspension, citing privacy laws).
In particular, Moniz and Pollard said they will miss slotbacks Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares, both of whom completed their UH eligibility in December. Salas and Pilares were precise route-runners who drew coverages away from the other receivers.
During yesterday’s practice, Moniz acknowledged, "I realized what a pleasure it was" to work with Salas and Pilares.
After joining the Warriors in January 2009, Moniz recalled, "There were guys who knew the offense, and I had to catch up to them. Now it’s the opposite way around, knowing the offense and the other guys having to catch up. We have to build chemistry together."
Darius Bright, who redshirted last season after transferring from City College of San Francisco, played well during yesterday’s 2-hour practice on the wet Ching Athletic Complex field.
"Everything felt like it was falling into place," said Bright, a top contender for the left wideout job.
Terence Bell, held out of 10 games in 2010 while his transfer from Nevada was being reviewed, was the No. 1 right slotback yesterday. He will stay there until Miah Ostrowski, moonlighting as a point guard with the UH basketball team, rejoins the Warriors. Bell then will move to left slotback.
"It was my first time being in the first group," said Bell, who has only one season of eligibility remaining and is not on scholarship. "It was everything I expected it to be.
"Man, it’s really hard," added Bell, who is living with his girlfriend in an off-campus apartment. "We’re pretty much scraping by. But this is a good opportunity to play for a good team."
Moniz said the first practice went well.
"It was a start," Moniz said. "We have to start somewhere. We’ll see where we are at the end of spring."