Cav: ‘This is the best OL class we've had'

HONOLULU – Michael Cavanaugh is happy, happy, happy. As far as offensive line coaches go, he's ready to mix up a recipe for success with plenty of bamm!

Quarry Q & A



‘This is the best OL class

we've had'


By Paul Honda
Senior Writer
Thursday, Feb. 14, 2002

HONOLULUMichael Cavanaugh never means ill will toward anyone.

He could if he wanted to. He's suffering from a cold and his body could use a rest from the exhausting recruiting season. Is he grouchy? No. He's a man of faith and of resilience. And he's happy, happy, happy.

A couple of hours after returning from an Ash Wednesday service, the University of Hawaii offensive line coach sat down with RSN to talk recruiting. It's the school's best recruiting class ever on the O-Line, he says.

Defensive coordinators across the Western Athletic Conference, please understand. Coach Cav means this in the nicest way.

There is, indeed, a photo cropped out of a newspaper of star pupil and lineman Vince Manuwai taped to his door. It's a classic shot of the former Farrington Governor with his hat off, glowering and chatting not so nicely with an opponent on the field.

But the 3 x 3 picture isn't framed. Cav wouldn't mean any ill will.

The Recruits

A minor note: As always, the Warriors don't want their offensive linemen getting bigger. They want their blockers to be big, strong, long-limbed and agile. That's why you'll notice Cav hoping to see certain players drop some poundage.

Kalavi Blanchard (OL, 6-2, 290, Fr., Kahuku HS) 

Questions about Blanchard arose during recruiting season. Kahuku's option attack was predominant last season, so recruiters were anxious to watch him at the HUB exhibition in December. 

Cav: "They ran St. Louis' offense in the all-star game. I saw the practice. Outside on the edge, he's got the quickness. It's hard to gauge a guy who's in a run-oriented offense, but he's a guy who reminds you of (Kaulana) Noa as his lower body goes. He's gotta get after it on his upper body. He's got the athletic ability. I'm excited about him, too. Big, physical guy." 

Marques Kaonohi (OL, 6-2, 250, Fr., Kailua HS)

Skinny: Played center for the Surfriders...a second-team OIA Red-Division all-star...named second-team all-State by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as a senior...also an honorable-mention all-State pick by The Honolulu Advertiser in 2001...also an honorable-mention all-region pick by Prep Star magazine.

Cav: "I watched this guy for the last two years. He's got tremendous feet, real quick. I know I can teach him how to develop his skills as an offensive lineman. He's a tough kid, a relentless guy, stays after people. But he's got kind of that explosive quickness. And he runs well."

RSN: What would it take for him to start?

"No freshman is going to start. But down the road, he's going to be the field general. He'll learn all the calls, how we direct our protection. Along with mastering the technique, that will dictate how soon he starts for us."

Cav smiles. "He's got tenacity."

Kahai LaCount (OL, 6-2, 295, Fr., Kailua HS)

Skinny:  Can play either tackle or guard...bench presses 225 pounds...squats 400 pounds...runs a 5.0 40-yard dash...named second-team all-State by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and The Honolulu Advertiser as a senior...also named honorable-mention OIA Red Division all-star as a senior...also an honorable-mention all-region pick by Prep Star magazine.

Cav: "He played mostly left tackle as a junior. Seeing him play as a junior, I liked his feet and athletic ability. At G, he's perfect there. He's a big, physical guy. When I watch Enoka Lucas (Kamehameha), he's very similar."

Mesepa "Sepa" Reed (OL, 6-5, 240, Fr., St. Louis School)

Skinny: A three-year letterman for the St. Louis Crusaders...first-team ILH all-star pick as a senior...also named second-team all-State by The Honolulu Advertiser...a member of the Crusader offensive line that allowed only 14 sacks in 2001, while the offense averaged 382.6 yards and 39.5 points per game...also a member of the Crusader track and field team.

"I think Mesepa has good size and he's awfully strong. He's going to get bigger and is a heck of a prospect. He's also very competitive." -
St. Louis Head Coach Cal Lee

Cav: "The thing about him, he's 6-6, but he pressed 225 25 times. Plus, the other thing, he's got long arms; that's pretty impressive. All he needs to do is fill out.

"Some guys are knee benders and some aren't; he's a knee bender. He plays at a 90-degree angle, with a good pad level, good quickness. He gets after you. He's got tremendous upside. Once he masters our techniques, he's going to be a tremendous tackle."

Sam Satele (OL, 6-4, 285, Fr., Kailua HS)

Skinny: The nephew of former Warrior Alvis Satele...bench presses 225 pounds...squats 315 pounds...runs a 4.85 40-yard dash...a first-team all-State selection by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and The Honolulu Advertiser as a senior...also named first-team OIA Red-Division all-star...listed as a high school All-American by Prep Star magazine as one of the top 20 best offensive linemen in the west.

Cav: "I would have to say, as far as O-linemen go, he's probably the biggest recruit that we've landed since we've been here. I know he pretty much had his choice where he could've gone. Nebraska and a whole bunch of other people were recruiting him.

"He's a guy with the whole package: mobile, agile, hostile, got it all. Played D line for them, played basketball for them. To me, he's a little bigger version of Vincent Manwuai. Great balance, explosive power and quickness. Could probably play D line, but I want him to play on the offensive side of the ball. Obviously, he's the real deal and I'm looking forward to coaching him."

Dane Uperesa (OL, 6-5, 300, Fr., Punahou School)

Skinny: Named honorable-mention all-State by The Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin as a senior...also earned second-team ILH all-star honors as a senior...played right tackle for the Buffanblu...also plays basketball (can dunk)...also an honorable-mention all-region pick by Prep Star magazine...also throws the shot put and discus for the Punahou track team.

"Dane is a very competitive player who has excellent feet, great balance and long arms. He's everything you look for in an offensive lineman. I think he can play any one of five positions on the line well. He's always well prepared, likes to study film, and adapts to the situation, running or passing, well. He's quiet and leads by example." - Punahou Head Coach Kale Ane

Both on the basketball court and the football field, Uperesa draws a comparison to former Warrior and current St. Louis Ram Kaulana Noa. In fact, both are good shooters in the post and even have similar personalities.

Coming out of Honokaa High School, Noa was soft-spoken and had raw, untapped strength. Uperesa, who commutes from Hauula to Punahou daily, is in the same vein.

Cav: "Noa's one of those guys who's thick in the ankles and calves and thighs, and upper body. Dane is the same way. Once Dane makes a commitment to the weight room, he's going to have a helluva body.

"USC was recruiting him. His uncle (offensive coordinator Keith Uperesa) is there. I really wanted him to stay home. To me, he could be the future left tackle. He's got long arms. He just needs to get that nastiness brought out of him. He's got a lot of upside and the package you're looking for. Smart, athletic. He has the athletic ability to play this game at a high level." 

And "Recruit X" is possibly the biggest pickup for Cavanaugh: former defensive tackle Wayne Hunter. How Cav secures talent is simply remarkable. No word yet on whether defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa is overjoyed about losing Hunter.

Wayne Hunter (OL, 6-6, 300, Jr., former DL)

Cav: "From what I've seen, he's bought into how we do things on the O-Line. He's working hard and constantly grinding and getting after it. Not the local kind grind, but busting his rear end, working his techniques. He's up from 285 to 300. If he can stay right there, 300, that's a good weight. He's smart, athletic and tough." 

And he's got the temperament you like in an O-lineman, right?

"You said it, not me," Cavanaugh responded.

2002 University of Hawaii Offensive Line Signees







Last School

Kalavi Blanchard





Kahuku HS

Marques Kaonohi





Kailua HS

Kahai LaCount





Kailua HS

Mesepa "Sepa" Reed





St. Louis School

Samson Satele





Kailua HS

Dane Uperesa





Punahou School


"As a group, this is the best O-Line recruiting class across the board we've had," Cavanaugh said. "With that statement, obviously, there's gonna be a lot of work that needs to be done. They've gotta learn the system and most importantly, they've gotta buy into the technique. It's a helluva group with a lot of potential – that means nothing. It'll be determined by how hard they work."

The Warriors have two holes to plug with the departures of seniors Manly Kanoa and Brian Smith. Kanoa was a three-year starter, while Smith was a workaholic center who spent each summer day snapping the football 1,000 times to roommate Nick Rolovich.

This is where Wayne Hunter enters the picture. A defensive tackle last year, Hunter has long arms, size and agility that Cavanaugh drools over. In fact, Hunter is almost like a recruit to the nth degree: 6-6, 300 pounds (up from 286 during the fall) and eager to learn quickly.

Cavanaugh sees Hunter at left tackle, replacing Kanoa.

"We're moving him because he can be a helluva left tackle. I'd like to move Lui (Fuata) to left guard. We'll see what Uriah (Moenoa) will look like at C," Cavanaugh said.

"Vince will stay at right guard," he added. Satele and returnee Ryan Santos are looming large, as well.

"Samson, if he's not a three-year starter, I'll be disappointed," he said.

"Ryan's a legit 6-5 and about 322. I want him at 305 or 310. That would be a great playing weight for him. His pass sets are very good, but because he's carrying that extra weight, he's not moving as fluid as he could. On a run block, he will have to adjust to their movement," Cavanaugh said.

The early starters could look like this:

Potential Staring OL
LT Wayne Hunter
LG Lui Fuata
C Uriah Moenoa
RG Vince Manuwai
RT Ryan Santos

"This isn't set in stone," Cavanaugh cautioned. "If Santos doesn't work out, we could keep Uriah at right tackle."

Also closely to the action is Derrick Fa'ave, a redshirt freshman from Campbell who goes 6-foot, 270.

Fuata could also play center. Shane Kajioka is in the hunt, as well.

"He's busting his butt, is 312 pounds now," Cavanaugh said. "He started as a sophomore against Wisconsin and Fresno State. He got hurt last year. He's good enough to be a starter for us."

The competition is keen. "Chad Kahale's working real hard. Phil Kauffman is working hard," Cavanaugh noted.

"Brandon Eaton, the kid from Houston. He's a guy like Kynan Forney. I kind of tease him and call him Kynan. He's doing a helluva job in the off-season program. He was a baseball player in high school. He's a guy who could play any number of spots. He could play tackle, guard, probably even center.

What gives Cavanaugh even more confidence is the team's work ethic. "Our kids are doing a great job in the off-season program."

Offensive line could be a question, but Cavanaugh isn't worried about it.

"The best five will play," he said.

See. Not an ounce of ill will.

Skinny information by UH Athletics

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