In college football it's not exactly easy to make an impact as a true freshman. But that's exactly what Chevan Cordeiro and Jonah Kahahawai-Welch are looking to do for U.H. next season. The two high school standouts were both early commits for the Rainbow Warriors, and have already been widely heralded around the state as promising local boys who chose to stay home.
Now, they're trying to make sure those believers have something to believe in. So, once their finals are over, they say they'll be trading in their school books for playbooks, film study, and countless hours in the gym.
"It's not child's play anymore," said Kahahawai-Welch ahead of his bi-weekly speed and agility training with Oahu based trainer, Kenny Patton. "It's grown men you're going to be going up against."
If there's anyone who knows how to prepare the future Warriors for what they'll see in Manoa, it's Patton. He's a former Rainbow Warrior defensive back, who following his career at U.H., signed NFL contracts with the Raiders and the Jets.
Patton also trains USC running back Vavae Malepeai, UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton, and a number of other current division I college athletes. Both Cordeiro and Kahahawai-Welch say training along those players means they've gotten a few lessons in what it takes to succeed at the next level to go with the speed and agility work.
The two future 'Bows are also training with Tactical Strength's Darin Yap. Yap is the same trainer that works with UFC fighters like Max Holloway, and Yancy Medeiros, Super Bowl champion Kamu Grugier-Hill, and professional surfer Zeke Lau.
The combination of speed and strength work has both Cordeiro and Kahahawai-Welch bigger than they were last year, while maintaining their quickness. Cordeiro now stands at roughly six-feet tall and boasts 20 additional pounds of muscle that he didn't have when he was quarterbacking for Saint Louis last year. Similarly, Kahahawai-Welch appears to have grown - though he says he's not sure exactly how much, and according to Patton he's put on 20-lbs of muscle himself. Both players say the change has been the result of a relentless work ethic this off-season.
"When I was in high school I didn't really lift that much," said Cordeiro. "I lifted maybe three times a week. This time I'm lifting maybe five times a week with Tactical. Tuesday, Thursday night, I'm training with Kenny Patton. [I train on] Saturday Sundays too. I'm training pretty much everyday."
But, the work doesn't stop there. The incoming freshman both made a point to attend as many spring practices as possible earlier this year. They say they're working to ensure that they're mental preparation is up to speed with the work they've been putting in in the gym.
"During spring ball, when they had it, I was going to as many practices as possible," said Kahahawai-Welch. "Just trying to get mentally into the game as much as possible, and just be there with them. I was watching film as well. It's getting a step ahead when I can't be with the team, but I can be."
When it comes to the "Live Aloha" aspect of becoming a Rainbow Warrior - both players have already got that part down. They not only volunteered at last weekend's "Aloha for Puna Clinic", they'll also help train younger players later this summer summer with Patton.
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