It did not take Brandon “Taz” Leslie very long to learn that on this island, no man is an island.
“Basically, the transition was pretty easy because of the guys on the team,” said Leslie, a safety who arrived on Oahu two weeks ago. “They have a really strong relationship. Everything is like a family out here. They brought me in. I hopped off the plane, and the same day, I got into it.”
Leslie said safety Richard Torres, linebacker Aaron Brown and cornerback Tank Hopkins were co-chairs of the welcoming committee.
“Pretty much every day, they’re trying to help me get better,” Leslie said.
Leslie was a well-regarded prospect as a senior at Edison High in California. He turned down offers from Arizona, Iowa State and Nevada to sign with Georgia Tech in February 2008.
He redshirted that year, then played a season under Tech head coach Paul Johnson, a former UH offensive coordinator. But after the 2009 season, Leslie chose to go back to California to be closer to his ailing father. He then enrolled at College of the Sequoias.
Leslie signed with UH in February, and then kept busy training under Tony Perry, his DB coach coach at Edison. Ricky Manning, who played cornerback for the Carolina Panthers, and Brandon Breazell, a former UCLA receiver, served as Leslie’s workout partners.
“I practiced one-on-one coverage (against Breazell),” Leslie said. “I’ve been trying to stay sharp on my footwork.”
Since arriving in town, Leslie has studied football videos every day. He is following strength coach Tommy Heffernan’s conditioning plans, lifting regularly, and taking a yoga class. He said field work has been helpful.
“I work on my drops, and getting out of my breaks, and back-pedaling,” Leslie said.
He is projected to compete at free safety.
“I played there in high school,” he said. “That’s my strong point. I like pretty much playing centerfield. I feel comfortable out there right now.”
If Leslie breaks into the rotation, it will give the Warriors the flexibility to play Kenny Estes at the nickelback position known as quarter. Estes was the No. 1 free safety in spring training.
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A fitness test is found at the Ching Athletic Complex.
The gate near the UH football locker room is chained. But it stretches enough to allow players, who want to work out on Ching field, to squeeze through. If you can’t fit, then you must quit . . . white rice. Or take the loooong walk to the open gate.
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Avis has selected the contest winners:
Colt T-shirt — DPK
XL T-shirt — Tom Mui
White hat — Midnight
Black hat — Tae Bo Jackson
Key chain — Anklebreaker
Youth XL T-shirt — Okole Maluna
For prize distribution, please text me at (808) 256-0223 or email: email@example.com
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Happy birthday to the one and only Bulla. The sun always rises with Eastman.