| || |
Kamehameha's Kamalani plays in big game today
September 3, 2011 - Robert Collias
Anyone who remembers Kamehameha Maui's Keloni Kamalani play in the MIL knows just how dazzling he could be — as a running back and linebacker. Had he been able to do more of it, injuries limited his prep career immensely, there is no doubt in my mind that he would be a Division I scholarship player somewhere.
Fortunately for the Oregon Ducks, he is right where he wants to be — "Can't imagine being anywhere else," he told me last Saturday at the Ducks' fan day. The No. 3 Ducks open against No. 4 LSU today at Cowboys Stadium site of last season's Super Bowl — "It doesn't get any better than that," he said.
Game time is 2 p.m. HST on ABC.
Here is the start of the story I wrote from that fan day experience for today's paper:
EUGENE, Ore. - As Keloni Kamalani signed footballs, posters, wristbands, hats, helmets, T-shirts, skin and whatever else was put in front of him a week ago on a sun-drenched day at Autzen Stadium, he was thinking about just how far he has come.
"It just makes me appreciate the fact that I have got good people who helped me get here," Kamalani said moments after Oregon's football fan day. "And if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here - people like my father (David), my mother (Shawndelle), I can't forget about them."
A few minutes later, Kamalani entered the third-ranked Ducks' locker room by flashing his thumb print on an entry screen - before graduating from Kamehameha Schools Maui in 2009, it would have been hard to imagine him at Oregon's state-of-the-art athletic complex.
Injuries limited his impact as a Warrior to the point where he had to walk on to the Ducks, but he now owns two Pac-10 championship rings, and last season played in five games, including the national title-game loss to Auburn.
Kamalani, who made every travel squad last year, is now seeing significant time with the second-team linebackers and is expected to be a starter on all special teams, meaning he should be on the field for the first play - kickoff return or receive - when Oregon opens its season today at Cowboys Stadium against No. 4 Louisiana State.
Kamalani is one of six Maui Interscholastic League graduates to play for a Pac-12 football team, and perhaps none have come so far so fast. He was a fifth-stringer at the beginning of spring drills, limited to noncontact work due to shoulder surgery after last season.
"It was always a dream," he said. "You think about it, you pray about it. I can only thank Jesus that I am here right now."
Kamalani plays strong-side linebacker, a position that does not usually come to a second-year player, walk-on or not, who is 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds.
"It is a lot of time and commitment, it is almost like a job," Kamalani said. "We are here almost all day every day. I just know that my opportunity is going to come and when it arrives I have to be ready and I do that by preparing myself."
No comments posted for this article.
Post a Comment