As the injury list grows, the Hawaii football team is finding more depth.
While linebacker Corey Paredes and defensive ends Liko Satele and Siaki Cravens recover from injuries, the Warriors are turning to younger players during spring practices.
“We feel for the injured guys, but it’s been a blessing in disguise for the inexperienced players,” defensive line coach Tony Tuioti said.
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said: “Our young guys are stepping up. It’s their time.”
Paredes, who underwent offseason surgery on his right shoulder, has been serving as a student coach. He led the Warriors in tackles in 2010 and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in August.
Already thin at linebacker — Paredes, George Daily-Lyles and Aaron Brown are the only ones at that position to have started UH games — opportunities have opened for Art Laurel, Aulola Tonga and Darryl McBride.
Laurel, who will be a fourth-year junior, has practiced with the first team this spring. Tonga and McBride both redshirted in 2010. They started their UH careers as safeties. McBride moved to linebacker this year.
“Darryl is a playmaker,” Aranda said. “He reminds me of Aaron Brown, when Aaron first got here (in July 2009). There are times when he’s not necessarily lined up where he’s supposed to be, but he always makes plays. Darryl is a smart player. We’re lucky to have him.”
In certain defensive schemes, McBride is the “elephant,” a pass-rusher aligned as a stand-up defensive end.
“The elephant stuff is fun,” McBride said. “I get to use my speed.”
McBride, who is 6 feet 2, now weighs 207 pounds. He hopes to increase his strength through weight training this summer.
“I want to get bigger and faster,” McBride said.
That ambition is shared by defensive ends Marcus Malepeai, Beau Yap and Desmond Dean.
Their workload expanded with the injuries to Cravens and Satele, both of whom will be ready for training camp.
Cravens underwent surgery for a partially torn right patella. Satele is recovering from an injury to his left forearm. Satele was the No. 1 defensive left end when he suffered the injury during a position drill.
“Liko was having a good spring prior to the injury,” Aranda said. “He was looking the best he’s looked. We’ve got to get him back, and get him back on the same road.”
Malepeai, Yap and Dean redshirted as freshmen in 2010. Malepeai and Yap have developed into active run-stoppers.
“They’re aggressive and stout against the run,” Tuioti said.
Yap, who is a little taller than 6 feet, has gained 30 pounds since enrolling at UH, and now weighs 260. He said he has worked on footwork, hip flexibility and hand techniques to repel blockers.
“I’m starting to feel more comfortable,” Yap said.
Dean still is lean, carrying 225 pounds on his 6-foot-5 frame. But that is 25 pounds more than what he weighed last July.
“I’ve been trying to learn the plays and fit into the system,” Dean said. “And I’ve been eating more. It’s not bad eating. I’m following the nutritional program.”
It was Dean’s childhood goal to live in Hawaii. While growing up in Texas, he became fond of the islands through books and magazines.
“When Hawaii offered me a scholarship, that was my chance, and I took it,” Dean said.
Tuioti said Dean is developing into an efficient pass rusher.
“In long-down situations, we might be able to use him,” Tuioti said. “Desmond is a good complement to the interior players we have.”