Coach's Corner: Gordon Shaw on Ray Hisatake

The Carolina Panthers are fostering an open competition on the interior offensive line. While that mainly affects veterans Mackenzy Bernadeau, Duke Robinson and Geoff Schwartz, it also opens the door for rookies like Hawaii alum Ray Hisatake. For more on the former Warrior, we talk with Hawaii offensive line coach Gordon Shaw.

For an exclusive interview with rookie O-lineman Ray Hisatake, click here.

Ray Hisatake arrived at Hawaii with just two years of playing experience under his belt, all of which came on the D-line at the College of San Mateo. Between 2007-09, he went from a red-shirt defensive lineman to a starting offensive guard, playing well enough to earn a free-agent contract from the Carolina Panthers.

What exactly happened during those three years with the Warriors to alter Hisatake's career prospectus? To find out, we chat with Hawaii O-line coach Gordon Shaw.

LaShana Marshburn: Tell us about your experience coaching Ray.

Gordon Shaw: Ray did not play high school football. He was new to the game at the junior college level. Hawaii recruited him initially as a defensive lineman. He came over and did his true year, then in the fall of 2008, they decided to move him to the offensive line.

I got to the University of Hawaii in the spring of 2009 and I saw Ray as a very gifted athlete -- very good feet, outstanding work ethic, very upbeat personality, a guy who wanted to learn. I wasn't sure whether he would crack the starting lineup going into his senior year.

He worked tremendously hard in the summer and through spring football. He nailed down the starting left guard position and solidified that through his summer workouts. Ray continued to get better in every game the whole season; I think that's what the scouts saw in him.

LM: You mentioned his experience on the defensive side of the ball. What else can you tell us about that?

GS: What ends up happening when you get a guy who hasn't played much football, you don't have a body of work on him. You don't really know how he played defense because he was only there for two years. His athletic ability trends towards a defensive player. He is very fluid, quick-twitch, moves his feet well.

What happened during his first year-and-a-half at Hawaii is it became pretty evident he didn't have the instincts to play on the defensive side of the ball. So he got moved to offense, where the players learn what to do and it's not as much about instincts. He learned the fundamentals and learned the plays, so he didn't have as much need for instincts to go get the ball.

LM: Ray lost 42 points while readying himself for the NFL. Is that kind of complete dedication something you saw during your time with him?

GS: Some guys, their parents put them in football in the sixth grade and they play youth football; they play junior high football; they play high school football; they play college football; and somewhere along the line a lot of guys get tired of the game.

For Ray, he's just at the front end of that. It's an exciting opportunity for him. He's into a stage of football where other guys might be in year 10, 15 or 20 because of the age their parents started them. He definitely doesn't have the "I know everything" attitude about the game. He's like a lightbulb; he gets turned on every time he hits the field.

LM: Where will Ray need to show the most improvement?

GS: He is going to have to continue to understand the leverage game. He's going to have to have to play against players who are every bit as large and as strong as he is and continue to work hard on keeping his pads underneath the defenders' pads. Also, we didn't run the ball a tremendous amount at Hawaii, so I'm sure he is working hard at coming out of a three-point stance. Those are things I am sure he is working hard on, playing out of a three-point stance and continuing to understand landmarks and leverage. Those things will be important if he wants to play at that level.

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