UH RB’s drive shines through

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - SPORTS - By FERD LEWIS

When Dio­cemy Saint Juste ran for 250 yards and three touch­downs in one of his first starts at San­taluces High in Boyn­ton Beach, Fla., as a ju­nior, his coach was back-slap­ping ef­fu­sive with praise.

“You know what? He didn’t even smile,” re­called Daryl Drinkwa­ter, the coach. “He had that stone-face look of his.”

He “just turned around and went out on the track to run some more,” Drinkwa­ter said. “He went back out to work on it, run­ning in the dark by him­self be­cause he felt he could have done bet­ter.”

Thanks to that ded­i­ca­tion, peo­ple who know him will tell you they are only mildly sur­prised that he is the third-lead­ing rusher in the na­tion at 892 yards and fifth in yards rush­ing per game (148.7) en­ter­ing Satur­day’s game against San Jose State while writ­ing his name deeper in the Rain­bow War­riors’ record book.

Sur­prised that he is do­ing it at UH, a place more ac­cus­tomed to hav­ing its quar­ter­backs and re­ceivers atop NCAA stats, per­haps, but not that Saint Juste is es­ca­lat­ing his suc­cess from a 1,006-yard ju­nior sea­son.

“He’s so hard on him­self that he (drives) him­self to be good,” Drinkwa­ter said.

“He is one of those guys who re­ally, re­ally pre­pares and al­ways knows what he is do­ing,” quar­ter­back Dru Brown sec­onded.

In an up-and-down sea­son for the ‘Bows, Saint Juste has been one of the few con­stants. Con­stantly good — and get­ting bet­ter — that is.

Af­ter man­ag­ing 78 yards in the sea­son opener, pro­duc­tion Saint Juste said he found un­ac­cept­able, he has put to­gether the best five-game run in school his­tory, 787 yards.

In the process, he’s shot up the ca­reer rush­ing leader board from out­side the top 10 to the like­li­hood of pass­ing Michael Carter for No. 2 this week.

Saint Juste needs 45 yards against the Spar­tans, the na­tion’s third-worst rush­ing de­fense, to over­take Carter (2,528). And Gary Allen’s 36-year old school record of 3,451 yards — while am­bi­tious — might not be out of reach by sea­son’s end.

If Saint Juste helps lift the ‘Bows to a bowl game, he would need to av­er­age 138 yards a game over the course of the sea­son to sur­pass Allen.

Along the way Saint Juste has be­come UH’s go-to back with 65 per­cent of the team’s rush­ing at­tempts and 70 per­cent of the yardage. He is well along a pace for the most rush­ing at­tempts in a sea­son while av­er­ag­ing 24 a game.

“I’ll take as many as they give me,” Saint Juste said. “I’m will­ing to be the work­horse for this team, if it comes down to it.”

The funny thing is Saint Juste be­gan his high school foot­ball ca­reer deemed to be a block­ing back at one school and, then, a bit-part

player at San­taluces High. “He first went out for foot­ball not re­ally know­ing that much about it,” Drinkwa­ter said. “They had ‘D’ at full­back, just us­ing him as a lead blocker, never even gave him a chance. They just thought he was a short kid with not many skills be­cause he had no ex­pe­ri­ence with foot­ball. He didn’t re­ally know foot­ball be­cause he wasn’t a foot­ball guy. He was a soc­cer guy.”

At Boyn­ton he was con­signed to the scout team un­til he got a chance to carry the ball and, then, he found him­self in a lineup that in­cluded fu­ture Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner La­mar Jack­son of Louisville.

“He just needed an op­por­tu­nity,” Drinkwa­ter said. “He’s still re­ally young at the game, but he works hard, re­ally pre­pares and is a flat-out com­peti­tor. Lord will­ing he stays healthy be­cause, now, you’re be­gin­ning to see the real ‘D’.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.