Penn State is Linebacker U. Southern Cal is Heisman U. I realized that if you wanted to give UH a name, you could call them Offensive Line U. While looking through old media guides and stat books, my realization is that Hawaii has put a lot of offensive linemen into the NFL—not just the school, but also the state itself.
Look at the history. From UH directly, we have Hercules Satele, Samson Satele, Kynan Forney, Manly Kanoa, Brian Smith, Dane Uperesa, Joe Onosai, Jim Mills, Vince Manuwai, Richard Ruppert, Bernard Carvalho, Tala Esera, Bobby Winkfield, Adrian Klemm, Kendall Goo, Dan Audick, Charles Aiu, Ed Foote, Leo Goeas, Mitch Ka'ai'ali'i, Andy Philips, Dustin Owen, Jesse Sapolu, Wayne Hunter, Kani Kauahi, Jack Sims, Kaulana Noa, Larry Price, Curtis Akins, John Gordon, James Kalili, and Jerry Scanlan.
For a school that hasn't been that notable, putting 23 linemen in the NFL is a pretty good number. Not to mention some of these players have had good long careers that included Super Bowls and Pro Bowl appearances.
Hopefully this list will grow by at least one or two this year. With that in mind, here is a look at the offensive line for this year.
Starting with the man snapping the ball, John Estes, a fourth-year junior, will be back under the ball. After his freshman year starting all 14 games at right guard, June Jones switched him to center last year.
Estes started all 13 games and anchored an offense that was first in scoring with 43.4 PPG, second in passing with 439.5 YPG, and third in total offense with 512.1 YPG. Estes was also named to first-team All-WAC and was a Rimington Trophy candidate for top center in the country.
Estes, a 6'2", 290-pounder, came out of St. Mary's High School in Stockton, California. While in high school he was a two-time starter at center and named the league's top lineman. He was a first-team all-section (Joaquin), first-team all-Northern California, and third-team all-State as a senior.
Moving to the guard positions, Keith AhSoon, the 6'1", 315-pound senior from Tafuna High School in American Samoa, missed half of spring training camp with a leg injury, but he showed enough power and technique to make the transition from tackle to guard. AhSoon has beastly power, being able to squat-lift 500 pounds.
On the other side of John Estes is Clarence "Lafu" Tuioti-Mariner, a 6'0", 285-pound senior from Corona, California. Tuioti-Mariner locked up the starting spot by working hard and showed a team-best squat-lift of 610 pounds during team testing.
Moving to the outside at left tackle is Keoni Steinhoff, a 6'3", 280-pound senior from Ewa Beach. Steinhoff had a solid year in 2007 and will continue to dominate.
The backside blocker for the UH signal caller is a battle between Aaron Kia, Ray Hisatake, and Laupepa Letuli.
Kia, at 6'5", 300, is entering his junior year and hoping to finally lock down the starting spot. Hisatake, the 6'3", 315-pound junior from San Francisco, is trying to make his size and technique known. Letuli, 6'3" and 290 pounds, is the most versatile lineman UH has. He has practiced at tackle, guard, defensive end, running back, tight end, and H-back.
Estes, Steinhoff, and AhSoon are the returning starters from 2007, with John Estes being the only returner from 2006, Samson Satele's senior year. When Estes first got to UH, comparisons were already being made to Samson Satele, thought to be the best lineman at UH ever. Scouts, coaches, players, and analysts all said that Estes might be better even than Satele.
Estes has spent the spring and offseason taking the leadership role that he deferred to Colt Brennan last year and Satele two years before. Now is his time to be the leader of the offense. It's time for him to shine.