Where does Harding rank among UH’s special teams greats?

I’ve always been a big fan of special teams play. More games are won and lost with the kicking game than people realize. Hawaii beat Northern Iowa largely due to Scott Harding‘s punting, and his punt-returning factored in, too. Tyler Hadden is 6-for-7 on field goals and perfect on extra points so far this season.

Harding is winner of the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week award and among five named for the honor roll of the Paul Hornung Award for versatility. If the Mosi Tatupu Special Teams Award were still around, Harding would be a prime candidate.

Here are some of my favorite UH special teams players from over the years. This is off the top of my head and I reserve the right to add to this list and please nominate your favorites.

K: Jason Elam. P: Scott Harding, Mat McBriar. KR: Matt Harding. PR: Dana McLemore, Chad Owens. Wedge buster: Semeri Ulufale. Kick blockers: Mike Akiu, Niko Noga, John Hardy-Tuliau. LS: Jake Ingram. All-Purpose: David Toloumu.


  1. Warrior Dave September 15, 2014 3:04 pm

    Jason Elam did kickoffs, punts, fg and extra points one year. I think he’s my absolute favorite but Matt also plays offense. We are blessed to have both in our program.

  2. Big Island Lava September 15, 2014 3:08 pm

    Eh Dave, How about Golden Richards?

  3. Dave Reardon September 15, 2014 3:18 pm

    Did Golden Richards play a lot of special teams?

  4. jeezy33 September 15, 2014 4:06 pm

    Shouldn’t Jeff Sydner be somewhere on that list?

  5. Dave Reardon September 15, 2014 4:48 pm

    Sure, Sydner could be on there. He and Chad Owens pretty close.

  6. Dave Reardon September 15, 2014 4:50 pm

    As well as Larry Khan-Smith. Gary Allen was a good kick returner, too. And while no one compares to Jason Elam, Justin Ayat was underrated.

  7. kryon September 15, 2014 5:05 pm

    Don’t remember if he impacted on special teams, I was a Lil kid, but Blaine gaison was Mr. Everything in his time. 80’s football best times.

  8. Dave Reardon September 15, 2014 5:15 pm

    If Blane Gaison played special teams it was very early in his UH career. He is known as a safety and pitching in at quarterback for a couple of games.

  9. Glenn September 15, 2014 6:01 pm

    Jim Asmus was a great kicker.

  10. Aaron September 15, 2014 10:44 pm

    I want Sean Butts playing safety and Tony Akpan playing nose tackle on my FG defense team. I also want Chad Kapanui as my up-man on the punting team.

  11. Aaron September 15, 2014 10:45 pm

    Justin Ayat hit a 50-yard extra point. that’s gotta be worth something!

  12. KB September 16, 2014 1:05 am

    Darrick Branch was a good punt/kick returner especially in the ’92 Holiday Bowl season. He had 3 career return TDs.

  13. Old School Dave September 16, 2014 6:29 am

    Doug Nomura: Dependable long snapper, former walkon, stood maybe 5 ft 8 inches. Tyler Tanigawa (used to run a pretty good lunchwagon in Kalihi), Eugene Price, along with the Ingram bros.

  14. Always A UH Fan September 16, 2014 7:27 am

    What about the guy named Masters (forgot his first name from McKinley) who was a punter in the 70’s or late 60’s. He was known for the “coffin corner” punts and was good at it.

    Jason Elam is my favorite kicker and no one can punt like Scott Harding. Actually, all the names you and the others who commented mentioned were (are) great on special teams at UH and fun to watch.

  15. BH1 September 16, 2014 8:40 am

    For all intents and purposes, Jason Elam is the greatest INDIVIDUAL former Bow to have played in the NFL. His career stats, length of career, records and two SB titles are proof. Sapolu, Tuinei have more rings but less personal accolades. So in regards to the topic, not only is Elam the greatest Special Teams player in UH history, but I’d have to say he’s on a short list of greatest Bows of all time. The years he played here, when we were in FG range, it was a “gimme” that we had 3pts and the fans became spoiled. I don’t think anyone can deny Colt or Al Noga’s collegiate level play which made them the favs of all-time, But they never encountered NFL success.

  16. Moanalua96819 September 16, 2014 10:42 am

    Bobby Ahu from Hilo ran back punts and kick offs for teams in the early 70’s. He had a game where returned 3 punts for touchdowns. Also agree with Dana Mclemore who played DB and returned kicks. He played a couple of years with the 49ers. Both of them were exciting to watch.

  17. Ed September 16, 2014 12:51 pm

    Once we were watching UH play in the dorm lounge. They were on the road. This one guy was watching with us and said he is going to be there next year. We were thinking, Yeah right. The guy was a skinny guy. His name was Dana McLemore.

  18. MakakiloGuy September 16, 2014 12:53 pm

    Well when you punt 11 times…u got a real good chance at this award. But doesn’t that just show how inept the UH O really is?

  19. zzzzzz September 16, 2014 12:59 pm

    Jim Asmus was also a very good punter who got great hang time and forced a lot of fair catches. I believe Tomey called it sky-punting.

  20. Derek September 16, 2014 1:27 pm

    It’s got to be either Jason Elam or Chad Owens. Both 4 year players, one the all time point scorer in UH history. The other, Mr. Electric. His kick off returns, his punt returns were legendary. Not to mention he was a regular in the receiving corps and he’s got to be the only guy who ran the most in every game. I’m sure his all-purpose yards are all-time at UH and will never be broken.

  21. Dave Reardon September 16, 2014 2:04 pm

    When you punt 11 times AND you force the turnover that is the biggest play of the game, AND you handle a similar number of opponent punts flawlessly and return one 13 yards to the opponents 30 to set up a TD on the next play AND you recover the onside kick, yeah you stand a good chance to win the award. … Did the offense perform poorly? Sure … but when you’ve got a great punter that does affect your play-calling in a game like that, fans don’t like it, but would they have preferred a loss? Semi-serious question.

  22. Ed September 16, 2014 2:26 pm

    I think the most physically gifted athlete was Niko Noga. It was just amazing how he got to the quarterback and also blocked punts. The guy was built like a Greek god

  23. Dave Reardon September 16, 2014 3:35 pm

    Yes, I was trying to think of who the great gunner was during the Jones’ era … Sean Butts makes my punt and kick coverage teams, too.

  24. andy September 16, 2014 7:26 pm

    Too bad Semeri Ulufale got injured his senior year. I think he only got to play in the very last game against South Carolina, but his wedge busting in that game was truly epic!

  25. MakakiloGuy September 17, 2014 9:03 am

    don’t get me wrong, i feel that Harding is the player over the years that has given the most, yet gotten less over his UH career than anybody else i can remember. But you saying that he was responsible for the ball clipping off the receiver? i have never heard of a punter getting credit for that kind of turnover. usually it falls on the punt returner, right?…also I’m not to sure wheat you meant why you say that harding is such a great punter that it affects the offensive pall calling?

  26. Dave Reardon September 17, 2014 11:25 am

    Here you go Makakilo Guy:

    1. Harding’s kicks are unpredictable for return men because they are usually low and often take wild bounces, due to the shape of the football. Also because he is usually rolling to his left or right and can kick with either foot. Because he takes longer to punt, teammates are downfield distracting the returner as much or more than with punts that have lots of hang time. Also because he is rolling out the punt return team doesn’t know if he’s going to kick or run, or even pass. All of these factors have contributed to several balls bouncing off of punt return team members and UH recovering over the past two seasons. I think the count is at four or five now. It is not a fluke.

    2. It’s about field position. When you have a good punter like Harding who can pin the opposing team in their own 20 with regularity, and the possibility of forcing a turnover as described above is real, it makes punting more acceptable than if you did not. Especially if your defense is playing well and the opposing offense is not very good, you can call more conservative plays because you do not mind punting as much as you normally would. A lot of fans hate this and it is a debatable strategy, but sometimes it is the best way to win a game.

  27. MakakiloGuy September 17, 2014 2:11 pm

    points taken…my original comment was more directed towards that we punted 11 times against a div 2 opponent & producing 2 offensive TD, that can’t be good for the offense… but man, if thats what NC way of thinking about “we can afford to punt the ball” ….then that just explains why we are where we are at as a football program.

  28. zzzzzz September 17, 2014 4:18 pm

    When Tomey first got here and had Jim Asmus, his play calling was pretty conservative too. He used to always talk about “having the chance to play defense.”

  29. Kalani September 18, 2014 2:33 pm

    Chad Kapanui definitely belongs on any all-time special teams lists.

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