Vince Manuwai, who was widely regarded as one of the top offensive linemen in University of Hawaii football history, died today at age 38, according to a family spokesman.
Manuwai reportedly was moving into an apartment in Kakaako this morning when he collapsed.
“It’s a shame,” said Rich Miano, a former UH assistant coach. “He was one of the best — if not the best — offensive linemen to play at UH. It’s a sad day for everyone affiliated with Hawaii football who knew Vince Manuwai.”
Manuwai was a 1999 Farrington High graduate who initially committed to play for the University of Utah. Instead, he changed his mind when June Jones was hired as UH’s head coach in December 1998. Manuwai became Jones’ first recruit.
At UH, Manuwai developed into a physical and relentless offensive guard. He did not allow a sack in his final 35 UH games. He also was one of the few in the program’s history to bench press 500 pounds.
There are certain guys who have weight room strength and then they have field strength,” said Dennis McKnight, who helped coach Manuwai at UH. “Sometimes guys can be strong in the weight room but it doesn’t carry over onto the field field. Vince was one of those rare individuals where his strength on the field probably was even greater than in the weight room. He was just a powerful man. They talk about lock-down corners in the NFL. Vince was a lock-down o-lineman. When he put his hands on you, it was over. It was done.”
Miano recalled one-on-one drills between Manuwai and defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga during UH practices.
“People would stand and watch,” Miano said. “He was a spectacle. He was a phenomenal talent.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Manuwai in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft. He played eight seasons with the Jaguars and was on the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad in 2012.
Manuwai is survived by six children.