Hawaii’s coaches kept Mike Andrade off the field, wanting to bring him along slowly and, more importantly, preserve a year of college football eligibility.
A season-ending injury suddenly altered those plans, giving the 2012 Konawaena graduate an opportunity to play at Aloha Stadium as true freshman.
Andrade will dress for Hawaii’s home game against Nevada today, and he said on Friday that he expects to get some playing time.
Kickoff for the game is 4:30 p.m.
“The coaches told me to be ready because there’s a good chance I’m going to play,” Andrade said.
Before the season started, Andrade said, the coaching staff made its intention of redshirting him clear even though the 6-foot-2, 275 pound lineman was intent on getting on the field in 2012.
“Every week, I try to get better and better,” Andrade said.
But even if he didn’t get to play one snap, the former Hawaii High School Rodeo Association champion would have still appreciated the benefits of redshirting.
“I just wanted to be a benefit to the team,” Andrade said. “Whatever the coaches wanted me to do, I’d do.
“(Redshirting) just gave me the opportunity to get bigger and stronger, and learn technique.”
It appeared that’s all he’d do this season, but starting defensive tackle Moses Samia tore the ACL in his right knee in the team’s 54-2 home win over Lamar last Saturday, ending the sophomore’s season. Up until then, Andrade was practicing with the Warriors’ scout team, but the injury made an already small group of interior linemen even smaller.
As a result, Hawaii moved Andrade to the traveling team. The 2011 Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II Player of the Year said he is just one of five true defensive tackles eligible to play against Nevada.
If he plays, Andrade said, he will be one of two true freshmen who will have received playing time this year. The other, starting corner Ne’Quan Phillips, is Andrade’s roommate.
The Kealakekua native said other interior defensive linemen on the team, including seniors Haku Correa and Paipai Falemalu, have mentored him, pushing him to be the best he can be.
“They took me under their wing, and it really motivates me to get better and better,” he said.
He might use whatever knowledge he’s gained from them today, and Andrade can’t wait to get on the football field.
“I’m going to be hyped,” Andrade said. “It’s been a long time since I played a football game. The last game I played was (a Hawaii High School Athletic Association state playoff loss) against Lahainaluna, and it left a bad taste in my mouth.”