College football: UH captains bring the ‘hard-work attribute’

Dayton Furuta is a father, a fiance, a pile-driving running back and now, by voting from teammates, a University of Hawaii football captain.

Furuta, slotback Jason-Matthew Sharsh, rush end Kaimana Padello and nose tackle Azia Se’ei overcame obstacles and low-depth placements to reach “C” level.

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Furuta was an under-recruited linebacker who joined the Rainbow Warriors as a grayshirt in January 2015. Sharsh, Padello and Se’ei entered the football program as non-scholarship players.

“They all have the hard-work attribute,” said coach Nick Rolovich, who announced the selections following Monday’s practice, the ninth of training camp. “They’re very selfless.”

Furuta, a 2014 Mililani High graduate, was recruited as a linebacker and special teams player. He eventually moved to H-back and, last season, shifted to running back. Listed at 5 feet 11 and 250 pounds, Furuta averaged 5.1 yards on first-down rushes, converted on 71.4% of his third-and-short carries, and caught every pass in his direction.

“The only difference now is I get to go out for the coin toss and I get a ‘C’ on my jersey,” Furuta said of his new title. “Nothing really changes. I still need to continue to be a leader, grow as a leader, and I think I need to encourage others to fill that leadership role, as well.”

Sharsh never envisioned being a captain after suffering a severe ankle injury at Santa Barbara City College, which he attended following his 2015 graduation from Moanalua High. He transferred to UH in 2017, redshirting that season while mending his ankle.

“I had a few times when I first came out here I wanted to quit,” Sharsh said. “It was kind of hard. I was really out of shape. I kept at it. That’s something my mom always taught me. She said to be committed in whatever I do. I stayed committed, and worked hard.”

In 2018, Sharsh played in 11 games, starting three, including as an injury replacement for John Ursua in the SoFi Hawaii Bowl. This training camp, Sharsh and Melquise Stovall are locked in a battle for a starting slotback’s job.

Padello, a 2016 Mililani High graduate, weighed about 200 pounds when he first joined the Warriors. But he has proven to be a difficult-to-block rusher, with 44.1% of his career tackles made in the backfield. Now weighing 230, Padello has thrived in the hybrid role of pass rusher and outside linebacker.

“I’m glad for the recognition from the team, that they see me in that light,” Padello said. “I’ve still got to work hard.”

Rolovich said the Warriors value Padello’s work ethic and “his inspiration. He never takes a play off, never takes a step off in his everyday life since he’s been at this university.”

Se’ei grew up in Honolulu’s Salt Lake area before moving to Salt Lake City, Utah, at the start of his sophomore year of high school. After his 2015 graduation from West High, he attended William Penn University, an NCAA Division III school in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

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He joined UH as a walk-on in 2017, spending that redshirt season as a scout player. Se’ei, at 5-11 and 275 pounds, worked his way into the defensive-line rotation last year. His leverage, strength (575-pound back squat) and first-step quickness helped counter grasping blockers.

“He really competed and beat some guys out of the position, and worked his way up throughout the offseason,” defensive line coach Ricky Logo said. “You’re talking about a leader who’s well respected in our meeting room. He’s really embraced what he’s preached. It’s a storybook in itself.”

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