comscore ‘Versatile’ Australian will play UH football | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

‘Versatile’ Australian will play UH football

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The University of Hawaii football team’s talent search led it Down Under.

Max Hendrie, an Australian who is experienced in rugby and football, has accepted a scholarship offer from the Rainbow Warriors, according to mentor Paul Manera, a former UH offensive lineman. Hendrie will put his commitment in writing on Feb. 3, the first day of the signing period.

Manera said Hendrie is 6 feet 4, 245 pounds and capable of running 40 yards in 4.53 seconds.

Manera said Hendrie has the potential to play defensive end, linebacker, tight end, offensive tackle or running back in a power formation.

“He might grow an inch taller, but if he doesn’t, he’s already tall enough,” Manera said. “He’s already fast enough. I’ve watched him play rugby, where he’s carrying the ball. He broke tackles. He side-stepped people. He stiff-armed people. He tackled people. He ran over people. … He’s quite versatile.”

Hendrie graduated from The Scots College, a Sydney high school, in December 2014. He has been training during the “gap year,” a period between high school and college in Australia. He is expected to enroll in UH’s bridge session in June.

The seeds of this pledge were planted in 1984, when Manera attended a game between UH and Iowa at Aloha Stadium. From then, Manera was hooked on American football, a passion that deepened when then-UH coaches Bob Wagner, Rich Ellerson and Paul Johnson taught a clinic in his native Australia in 1987. Johnson encouraged Manera to play for a junior college in Mississippi. Manera became a starting offensive tackle, then transferred to UH.

After earning a degree in business and finance, Manera was hired as a UH graduate assistant. Through his subsequent ventures in Australia, he often was asked about leads into playing college football. “It’s pretty complicated, but I can kind of help you,” said Manera, who now runs a recreation-sports business that employs 40 coaches and teaches about 2,000 kids per week.

Manera has served as mentor to Adrian Thomas, a former UH offensive tackle; Blake Muir, a former Warrior who played the past three seasons at Baylor; Jesse Williams, a former UH recruit who started at Alabama; and Georgia Tech defensive tackle Adam Gotsis. Manera said Hendrie is equally skilled.

“Hawaii is going to get a mature kid,” Manera said of Hendrie. “Hawaii is going to get a kid who will work very hard and be very grateful for the opportunity. The guys (in Australia) have a hard time getting noticed, but when they do, they grab the bull by the horns.”

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