CARSON, Calif. » Some former Hawaii football players had a second chance to make a first impression at Monday’s pro day.
Offensive lineman Austin Hansen, who was suspended for the entire 2011 season, relished participating in meaningful football drills.
Quarterback Shane Austin, a long-time understudy, was able to audition for NFL scouts.
And receiver Ryan Henry seized an opportunity that was lost to a knee injury last year.
"It was a blessing to see all of my teammates again," Hansen said.
In 2010, Hansen used an over-the-counter supplement to alleviate the pain from a staph-like infection in his left elbow. The supplement was found to have included a banned substance, although it was not listed on the label as one of the ingredients. Hansen was suspended for the 2011 season.
UH officials were hopeful the suspension would be overturned on appeal. But one month turned into a few months and eventually the entire season.
Former UH defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga agreed the supplement was to treat the infection not to get "yoked up."
"He’s not that type of guy," Meatoga said. "He’s a hard worker."
Hansen said he hoped he could have "gone out there for one more snap, with my teammates. I was proud of how all of the guys stepped up in my absence, even though I let them down."
Meatoga said it was "good" to be reunited with his former roommate.
"I want to see him succeed," Meatoga said.
Hansen did well in the vertical jump and short shuttle, but was disappointed in his 40 time (5.31 seconds).
At the weigh-in, after being asked to remove his socks, quarterback Austin was measured at a shade under 6 feet.
Not a problem, according to Austin’s mentor, former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia. Despite being about 6 feet, Garcia had a lengthy career in Canada and the NFL.
"He has a great passion for the game," Garcia said. "In that way, he reminds me of my passion and my focus in the game. He looks a little bit similar. We’re the same size. In a lot of ways, it gives him hope."
The past several weeks, Garcia has worked out with Austin and former UH wideout Royce Pollard. They would run a route in one direction, then turn around and run the same route the other way.
"We kept that pace," Pollard said.
It proved helpful Monday, with Pollard as one of four receivers running routes for Austin and Bryant Moniz.
Garcia said Austin showed he has the skill to play professionally.
"Mechanically, he’s very polished," Garcia said. "He has great feet. I like the way he drops. I like the way he moves in the pocket. He throws the ball really well on the run."
Garcia arranged for Austin and Pollard to participate in a tryout for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League a couple of weeks ago. Both did well, and will learn this week if they will be offered contracts.
"I felt like a proud father," Garcia said.
Henry was the Warriors’ punt returner when he suffered a torn ACL in 2010, ending his UH career. His rehabilitation prevented him from participating in last year’s pro day. Henry earned a bachelor’s degree, then trained for this year’s pro day.
"It was good to be out there again," Henry said. "I’m grateful for the opportunity."