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17 from Hawaii geared for pro day

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    Kealoha Pilares hopes to improve his draft stock at Hawaii’s pro day.

In what is essentially a final exam, 17 former University of Hawaii players will participate today in a skills combine that could determine their football futures.

“I’ve worked hard for this,” receiver Kealoha Pilares said of UH’s pro day at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. “Whatever happens, happens.”

Representatives from every NFL team will evaluate speed, agility, jumping and weightlifting disciplines.

Position drills will be recorded on video, with copies sent to NFL and Canadian Football League teams.

“We want to open some eyes,” said cornerback Lametrius Davis, who trained in Portland, Ore., the past two months.

Each NCAA school is allowed a “pro day,” a football-skills combine before pro scouts.

Because of Hawaii’s isolation, the Warriors are granted an exemption to conduct their pro day at the spacious facility where the U.S. national soccer teams train.

Receiver Greg Salas, running back Alex Green and Pilares, a slotback, are considered to have the best chances to be selected in next month’s NFL Draft.

In the past, several former Warriors have parlayed strong pro-day performances into NFL offers.

Salas met with NFL officials in the week leading to the Senior Bowl in Alabama. Green had interviews with scouts while preparing for the East-West Shrine Game in Orlando.

Salas and Green competed in drills at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. Both will stand on their combine performances, and will participate only in position drills today.

Pilares also attended the NFL combine, but was restricted to the bench-press test. He injured his knee during the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl and did not resume training until two weeks before the combine. While there, he benched 225 pounds 19 times.

At pro day, Pilares will perform every drill except the bench press.

Pilares said his knee has healed completely, a recovery that he hopes will be proven when he runs the 40-yard dash.

While training in Georgia in 2009, Pilares was timed in the 40 in 4.37 seconds on a synthetic track.

Today’s speed drills will be outdoors, and on artificial grass, which is considered to be a slower surface.

Offensive lineman Laupepa Letuli will be making his second appearance at pro day. He was allowed to participate in last year’s event while awaiting a ruling on his appeal for a medical hardship that would allow him to play as a sixth-year senior in 2010. That appeal was granted after the pro day.

At last year’s event, Letuli, still recovering from a leg injury, weighed 325 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 5.29 seconds, and benched 225 pounds 29 times.

Letuli spent the past three months training in Arizona under Chad Ikei.

Letuli, who is 6 feet 3, now weighs 303 pounds. He said his goals are to run the 40 in less than 5 seconds, and to bench 225 pounds 40 times.

“I’m stuck at 39 for the last two weeks,” Letuli said. “We have to get this thing going. Who knows? Maybe the adrenaline will kick in.”

Safety Mana Silva, who led the Warriors in interceptions in 2010, also has trained in Arizona.

“I’m at 205 (pounds), the same as when I played (at UH), but it’s a better 205,” said Silva, who has been working on “explosive” lifts, such as power cleans.

“I don’t eat any white rice,” Silva said. “I eat a lot of protein — steak and eggs — and a lot of salads. No chicken katsu.”

Former UH quarterback Colt Brennan had hoped to throw to receivers during passing drills. But UH officials were told that players who had exhausted their NCAA eligibility for at least a year were not allowed to work out in front of NFL scouts because of the current lockout.

Because of the ruling, former UH defensive end Melila Purcell III, who received a medical release from the Cleveland Browns two years ago, also was told he could not participate. But Cameron Allen-Jones, who missed the past two UH seasons after suffering injuries from a fire, will be allowed to participate.

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