Watson named co-captain for Warriors

OCALA, Fla. — University of Hawai‘i head football coach Greg McMackin announced the year’s team captains at the team’s final practice at Georgia Tech yesterday. In a vote by their teammates, senior linebackers Solomon Elimimian and Adam Leonard, senior defensive lineman Keala Watson, and junior center John Estes, were selected as this year’s captains.

The defensive side of the ball was well represented as Leonard and Elimimian are two of the team’s standout players and former Kaua‘i High School player Watson is a three-year letterman. The lone representative on offense, Estes, started every game on the front line for the past two seasons.

Elimimian, the WAC’s preseason defensive player of the year and Lombardi and Bronko Nargurski Award candidate, is a three-year starter at linebacker. He led the team with 145 tackles last season and ranked 14th nationally averaging 10.9 tackles per game.

“Of all the awards I’ve received throughout my career, this is by far the most meaningful because it was voted by my teammates,” Elimimian said. “It means something special that your teammates think so highly of you and believe in you.”

Leonard started every game of the past two seasons and was named all-WAC first team as a junior and second-team all-WAC as a sophomore. In addition, the Lombardi Award candidate has finished with 100-plus tackles both years.

“This is a great honor and I am so humbled to be recognized by my teammates,” Leonard said. “I’m just going to go out there, do what I do, and hopefully lead by example and show others the right way to conduct themselves.”

Watson, a part-time starter in each of his three seasons on the defensive line, will step into a starting role this season.

“To me there are 20-30 captains on this team,” Watson said. “Each position has a bunch of leaders, guys who take initiative, set an example. We even have some of the younger players who are leaders. So to officially be named a captain by my teammates is humbling.”

Estes anchors an offensive line that returns three starters from a year ago.

“As the only offensive team captain, I take this as a huge show of respect,” Estes said.

Following their morning’s practice at Georgia Tech, the Warriors flew to Gainesville, Fla., and drove 45 minutes to their hotel in Ocala, Fla. Hawai‘i is scheduled for a walk-through at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium today.

Kickoff for the season-opener is 6:30 a.m. tomorrow.

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