Get used to the name John Ursua. The redshirt freshman slot receiver has been making the most of his return to the football field.
"He's got a lot of ability," UH head coach Nick Rolovich said. "He's going to be a great player here for a long time."
Ursua attended Kealakehe high school his freshman year, before his family moved to Utah and he finished his high school career as a highly-touted quarterback prospect in the state. Rather than make the jump right to college, Ursua served a two-year church mission to Paris
"Collegiate football is definitely challenging after sitting out four years," remarked Ursua.
Upon his return, his decision to play at Hawaii was an easy one.
"Wearing this jersey is more than just a game, it's more than just football," Ursua said. "It's representing our state, and it's a lot more than what we think."
But Ursua's journey back to the field was challenging. Last year he found out he was a half credit short of meeting the NCAA regulation for eligibility and was forced to redshirt. A fourth year away from the game of football.
"It was challenging not to play the one game that I love. I'm not good at school, I'm not too good other extra curricular activities, but football is the one thing I love. That drives me every single day when I come out here. I'm always happy, I have a small on my face. I'm doing anything I can to make the team better."
Ursua was named the scout team offensive MVP last season. Coaches say he has an abundance of speed and a high football IQ, but it's his work ethic that jumps off the page.
"A kid's not born and says hey I just want to play football, nor does a kid sit out one or two years and say gosh man I want to be a better football player, I want to work hard," said passing game coordinator Craig Stutzmann. "Those type of things are just engrained in their psychological mapping as they grow up."
Maybe it comes from the large chip on the shoulder of his otherwise smaller frame, just don't let that fool you.
"I never take that lightly, the fact that I'm undersized," Ursua said. "That doesn't mean anything to me. We can't control our size, all we can control is what we can do on the field."
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