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Hawaii Fall Camp: The Running Backs

Joey Iosefa should get the bulk of the carries, but he won't be alone in the backfield this fall

Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports
Joey Iosefa, Senior (6-0, 245)

Originally from American Samoa, Iosefa was four-sport athlete during his time in High School, starring in Football, Soccer, Rugby and Volleyball. On the football field, he played Quarterback, Free Safety, and Linebacker, going 21-2 in his final two seasons at Fagaitua High School. He scored 21 rushing touchdowns and 16 passing in his Senior year before signing his LOI to play football at Hawaii.

After redshirting 2010, Iosefa led the Warriors rushing attack in 2011 with 548 rushing yards on 110 carries, averaging 5.0 yards a carry his freshman year. He saw a slight dip in his numbers in 2012 after an injury kept him out of four games for the Warriors, but still managed to rush for 463 yards and a score. A foot injury sustained before fall camp last year caused Iosefa to miss seven games, returning in week 11 against Navy. Upon his return, fans saw the Joey Iosefa they had hoped to see in 2012, rushing for 586 yards and five touchdowns in the last four games of the season:

Joey Iosefa in 2013
Opponent Att Yds YPC TDs
Navy 35 191 5.5 1
San Diego St 37 150 4.1 1
Wyoming 24 91 3.8 2
Army 28 154 5.5 1
TOTAL 124 586 4.7 5

So while Iosefa brings experience to the Warriors backfield, his consistency in short-yard situations benefited the Warriors in their late-season "surge" in latter half of the season. If he is able to stay healthy this season, Iosefa could help balance out the Hawaii offense and capture that elusive 1,000 yard season he's been searching for his whole career.

Steven Lakalaka, Sophomore (5-10, 240)

A three-star hometown prospect from Honolulu, Lakalaka led Punahou High to a HHSAA State Championship behind his 1,154 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns as a Senior. He chose to stay in-state, committing the new coach Norm Chow in January of 2012.

He redshirted his first year on campus, and saw two starts last season with the injury of Joey Iosefa. He finished second on the team with 468 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. His best performance came in the 'Bows season-finale victory over Army, rushing for 104 yards and a score, combining with Joey Iosefa for 258 yards on the day.

His size makes him a very strong 3rd-down/goal-line back for the Warriors, and while Iosefa will receive the bulk of the workload out of the backfield, Lakalaka will rotate in on a regular basis in 2014, and should be the front runner to fill Iosefa's spot next fall.

Diocemy Saint Juste, Sophomore (5-8, 180)

In his Senior year at Santaluces High School in Florida, Saint Juste was third in the nation in rushing yards with 1,243 yards, and was named to the Palm Beach Post's all-first team in 2012. He also starred in Track and Field at Santaluces, finishing top ten at the 4A District meet for the 4x100 in 2013.

Although he was relegated to Kick Return duties in 2013, Saint Juste still made a decent impact in the Hawaii rushing attack, finishing third on the team with 239 rushing yards last year behind both Iosefa and Lakalaka. His best game came against Nevada in Week 4, going for 82 yards on 12 carries against the Wolfpack.

While he doesn't have the size his teammates Iosefa and Lakalaka have, Saint Juste's speed makes him a viable asset for the Warriors rushing attack. He won't be sharing the same workload as the others, but he should still be a solid contributor this fall.

The Verdict

One thing hinges on the success of the Warriors running back group: The health of Joey Iosefa. As said by Iosefa himself, seeing his teammates out there without him for most of the season made him "hungrier" as a player, and led to his fantastic late season performance in 2013. Now hopefully back at 100%, the 'Bows could hopefully have their first 1,000 yard rusher since Alex Green in 2010. Iosefa is, and will be the clear starter, but the fact that both Lakalaka and Saint Juste return keeps the entire unit intact will leave Norm Chow with several options as well, so don't be surprised if all three RBs post solid numbers in 2014.