Team preview: Hawaii

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(All information as of July 1, 2006)


Long after the last snap of spring was done and June Jones was off to San Francisco to watch Barry Bonds make history, the University of Hawaii football team received two doses of good news from the NCAA.

Usually, when the big boys of Indianapolis send something in the mail, it's a little like getting a letter from the IRS wondering if you would like to get together over the weekend and discuss the definition of deductions.

But in late May, the NCAA first granted All-WAC safety Leonard Peters another year of eligibility, then turned around a few days later and did the same for top running back Nate Ilaoa, bringing a smile to Jones' face 2,500 miles away from Honolulu.

It's officially called an extension of the five-year rule. Ilaoa suffered a knee injury in the season-opening game against Appalachian State in 2003, forcing him to use his redshirt season as a medical hardship. He then sat out 2004 with a shoulder injury, but that one counted as one of his four years on the field.

He remained intact in 2005 as he completed what many thought was his last season. After a slow start, he wound up the leading rusher for Hawaii with 643 yards and six touchdowns. But sometimes the NCAA surprises you.

Peters was injured during the season opener with USC, forcing him to miss most of 2005. Like Ilaoa, he already received a medical hardship in 2001, leaving him with no time left on the NCAA clock. His reprieve was even better news for the beleaguered UH defense.

As a junior in 2004, the free safety led the team with 120 tackles. He was sorely missed as first-year defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville went through free safeties like Paris Hilton does boyfriends. You could here him holler all the way from Georgia when told Peters was back in the house. Jones was a little more subdued, but conceded things got better with two six-year players in the program.