Warrior receiving can look on bright side
By Ferd Lewis
It was an all-too-familiar sight right out of recent University of Hawai'i football history: a lanky outside receiver going up, up, up ... to catch a pass over the outstretched hands of a much shorter defensive back.
Only this time the towering receiver was wearing green and white. And the Warriors were smiling and nodding approval on the field yesterday.
To watch 6-foot, 5-inch, 225-pound Darius Bright preying on diminutive defenders in spring practice these days is to understand that not only have the Warriors gotten the license number of the heavy equipment that has frequently run them over, they've gone out and acquired their own cherry picker.
A January transfer from City College of San Francisco, Bright is one of the more eye-opening and hopeful sights in Mānoa even as he goes about learning his routes, plays and teammates' names.
With a basketball background and only three years of football — and just 14 junior college games — behind him, the player they call "Stilts" remains something of a project to be sure. But with size, 4.5 speed, good hands and a can-do attitude, one the Warriors relish seeing through to completion over the next two to three years.
Bright has, as offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich likes to put it, "a very high ceiling ... as high as he wants to take it." It has been a while since the Warriors have had a receiver who could even bump his noggin on a ceiling.
Perhaps not since Ashley Lelie or Attrice Brooks, who were an inch shorter, early in the last decade, have the Warriors had somebody tall or athletic enough on the outside to play alley-oop with in the end zone or toss fade routes to in the red zone.
Though, gosh knows, opponents have done it to them plenty, witness last year's game at Nevada-Las Vegas.
Which is why Bright is such an intriguing and timely catch for the Warriors. "Nobody is going to sleep on his speed because he has good, long, strides and is physical enough not to get jammed up," Rolovich said. "He has a lot of weapons."
Enough that he caught Rolovich's eye when they crossed paths for a few months three years ago at City College of San Francisco, where Rolovich was the quarterbacks coach and Bright was a raw, grayshirt receiver from North Carolina.
Bright's game and passion have long been basketball, for which he said he had a couple of Division II scholarship offers out of high school in Fayetteville, N.C. But his future, he was told, could be in football, a sport on which he'd barely scratched the surface during one season in high school.
For the Warriors now, too, the future at outside receiver is considered Bright.