HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two weeks into Rainbow Warriors training camp, a couple of returning Warriors are working to step into larger roles this season.
Junior offensive lineman Ilm Manning has started every game at left tackle since he got to UH in 2018, leaning on the leadership of the older lineman.
Going into 2020, the Glendale, Arizona native knows that he has to become one of those leaders for the younger guys to lean on.
"Coming in as a freshman, having to depend on the upperclassmen like JR, Kohl, Taaga and depending on them to help me pull through, but now it’s flipped.Manning told reporters after Thursday’s practice. “The freshmen and sophomores are looking up to me, so i just have to keep on pushing myself harder and harder because there’s still competition in front of me, we’re always competing to get better.”
Manning will be leading the 'Bows offensive line through very challenging times as they prepare to play during a pandemic — on top of learning a brand new offense.
“From the run and shoot to this offense, the run and shoot was basically just reading off of the defense and this offense is just like we’re ready to go, ready to run the ball, throw the ball, so it’s definitely speed.” Manning said. “Running this new offense, now everybody has to communicate to a point, so coming into this season I think that communicating is one of the big factors that I personally have to work on.”
The preseason All-Mountain West lineman will protect the blind side of Chevan Cordeiro, as he develops into UH’s full time starting quarterback.
“Chevan has become more vocally sound, a lot more confident.” Manning said. “His ability to run the ball is great, Chevan is a great athlete and a great quarterback.”
On the other side of the ball, Mililani graduate Darius Muasau is looking to build off of the breakout season he had last year as a freshman.
“I’m just a lot more focused coming into camp knowing that I’m a starter this year, so it’s the same mentality, just coming in everyday, proving myself everyday and just having the same mindset.” Muasau said. “There’s a lot going on right now, especially with this condensed amount of time that we got, but I feel that we’re learning as a whole defense, we’re getting it down pretty much.”
Muasau is looking forward to the linebackers playing a big role in the new 'Bows defense, under defensive coordinator Victor Santa Cruz.
“The defense is more dynamic for the linebacker position and also the DB position, so there’s a lot more linebackers and defensive backs on the field.” Muasau said. “The point of that is to have more people flying around, I feel like we have the personnel for that on our team and I feel like we’ll execute that going into this year.”
Last year, the 18-year-old was thrust onto the field after injuries struck the linebacker group, but now as the incumbent starter, Muasau is going all out for his team.
“I’m here, I’m playing for my team, I’m trying to be the best person for my team and nothing really changed.” Muasau said. “Last year people got hurt, that’s what happens in football, next man up mentality, that’s what all the coaches instill in this program.”
The Warriors have Friday off, before an inter-squad scrimmage set for Saturday — two weeks before they open the season at Fresno State.