The University of Hawaii football team is poised to boost its roster and coaching staff.
Offensive lineman Fred Ulu-Perry has secured a conditional release from his UCLA football scholarship, opening the way to join the Rainbow Warriors. The release is contingent on Ulu-Perry’s satisfactory completion of fall-semester classes, actions that would not affect the Bruins’ academic-progress rating.
The Warriors also are expected to hire Brian Smith, a former UH center and assistant coach. Nick Rolovich, who was named UH’s head coach two weeks ago, already retained offensive line coach Chris Naeole, defensive backs coach Abraham Elimimian and special teams coordinator Jake Cookus from Norm Chow’s staff. Chow was fired on Nov. 1.
As a Saint Louis School senior a year ago, Ulu-Perry was considered one of Hawaii’s top high school prospects. He was ranked as ESPN.com’s No. 1 offensive guard and Scout.com’s top center. Scout also gave him a 4-star rating.
Ulu-Perry played eight games as a UCLA freshman this season, splitting time among offensive guard, short-yardage runner and defensive tackle. He left the Bruins two weeks ago.
Naeole, who played 12 NFL seasons, served as tutor and role model when Ulu-Perry was a youth player.
Ulu-Perry would have to redshirt in 2016 in accordance with NCAA transfer rules. He then would have three years to play three seasons.
UH and UCLA meet at the Rose Bowl on Sept. 9, 2017.
Rolovich and Smith were UH roommates, often going over strategy and practicing snaps in the house they shared with other teammates. After being named UH head coach in 2008, Greg McMackin hired Rolovich to coach the quarterbacks and Smith to coach the offensive line. Rolovich eventually was promoted to offensive coordinator, and Smith became the running backs coach. Neither was retained after McMackin’s forced retirement following the 2011 season.
Smith was at Cal Lutheran for a season, helping the Kingsmen finish second among Division III teams in scoring. Smith has been Occidental’s offensive coordinator the past two years. This season, Bryan Scott completed 65 percent of his passes with 22 touchdowns against six interceptions, and Kwame Do averaged 174.6 rushing yards per game.