Hawaii Warriors’ head coach, Timmy Chang, had a rough first season back at his old school, as the team finished with a 3-10 record. In season two, the Warriors are hoping that with some of the veteran players back this season and more comfortable in their systems, they will improve their record.
Chang’s rebuild certainly will take some time, but the pieces intact in our Hawaii Top 10 Returning Players indicate their biggest strengths.
Hawaii Warriors Top 10 Returners in 2023
Analyzing the returning players at every school is a difficult task in the transfer portal area. As such, we’ve included transfer-portal athletes that were included on each team’s roster page to open fall camp in addition to the rostered players from last year.
1) Cam Stone, CB
The Warriors turned to the transfer portal to get some help in their secondary, and they found a player whom they had faced with conference rivals Wyoming. Cornerback Cam Stone joins the Warriors after recording 35 tackles, 10 pass deflections, one fumble recovery, two interceptions, and a touchdown in 12 games a season ago. He earned an honorable mention in the All-Mountain West in 2022.
Stone is strong in coverage, and he can also be used on special teams as a returner, having returned a kickoff for a touchdown at Wyoming. Hawaii gets support on special teams and pass coverage thanks to Stone joining the program.
2) Tylan Hines, RB
As a true freshman last season, running back Tylan Hines made quite a first impression on the Warriors program with his performance as the backup. Hines finished second on the team in rushing yards with 634 and scored two rushing touchdowns.
He also caught nine passes for 82 yards, earning a spot on the All-Mountain West honorable mention list.
Versatility is the best trait for Hines, as he will play a big factor in the running game and passing game. He didn’t get to show off his hands often, but in coach Chang’s high passing offense, it should be displayed more this season. Now in the starting role, Hines should be poised for big seasons in the next three seasons for the Warriors.
3) Logan Taylor, LB
The Warriors’ leading tackler from 2022 is back as one of the senior leaders on the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker Logan Taylor took top honors in tackles last season with 85, four tackles for loss, one sack, one pass deflection, and one interception in 13 games.
Taylor started six games after earning the starting job for the second half of the season.
Talk about a player making the most of his opportunity, Taylor had three total tackles in the first six games, but exploded with 82 tackles in the last six games of the season when he started. He’s been building towards this moment since joining the program in 2020 as a transfer.
Now full-time in the starting lineup, Taylor will be asked to do more on defense, and if he plays the way he did last season, triple-digit tackles should be realistic.
4) Peter Manuma, S
Another true freshman last season who made the most of his playing time when he was on the field, safety Peter Manuma played all 13 games with Hawaii in 2022. He finished third on the team in tackles with 70 while adding three tackles for loss, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one sack. That helped Manuma earn an honorable mention for All-Mountain West.
He’s quick and aggressive and can create turnovers when needed. Manuma has a bright future with the program as he takes the next step in his development on the team. Coach Chang can look at Manuma as the future of the secondary for the next two to three seasons.
5) Brayden Schager, QB
In his first full season starting for the team, Brayden Schager started 10 of the 12 games for Hawaii, including the last nine games of the season. Schager finished the season with 2,348 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, finishing second in the conference in passing yards per game (195.7), passing attempts (400), and total offensive plays (445).
Schager needs to improve his accuracy as he only completed over 55% of his passes last season, but there was a lot of change with the program. With a more established foundation, Schager should see improvement in his performance. The offense is in better shape from year one under coach Chang to year two, which should be good news for Schager.
6) Meki Pei, S
After transferring from Washington prior to last season, Meki Pei found his way onto the team and into the starting lineup. Playing in 10 games and making four starts, Pei finished fourth on the team in tackles with 53 while tying for second on Hawaii in tackles for loss with 5.5.
His stat line also included 1.5 sacks, three pass breakups, and one quarterback hurry.
Now in his junior year, Pei is projected to be one of the starting safeties on the team and will see a more increased role. The Warriors hope to see a bigger push from Pei on pass coverage and creating turnovers. Being a solid tackler from the safety position, year two in Hawaii should lead to more success for Pei.
7) Jalen Walthall, WR
As a redshirt freshman last season, receiver Jalen Walthall found his first action in college and proved to play well as the No. 2 receiver. Walthall was second on the team in receiving yards as he caught 27 passes for 333 yards and one touchdown in 11 games.
The offense is pushing for more passing this season, which only means that Walthall is going to produce better stats. He’s got big-play potential, as he can show off the speed to gain big yards. Despite this season being his first as the No. 1 guy, Walthall could be racking up over 1,000 yards receiving when all is said and done.
8) Virdel Edwards II, CB
Cornerback Virdel Edwards spent three seasons with Iowa State before transferring to Hawaii prior to last season. Edwards performed well in 13 games as he recorded 50 tackles, five pass breakups, and three interceptions during the season.
Entering season two with Hawaii, Edwards is looking to make more of an impact on a secondary that is seen as a strength to the team. He can make good plays on the ball and does well in pass coverage. Year two on the defense should see him produce similar numbers, if not more pass breakups, as one of the projected starting cornerbacks.
9) Matthew Shipley, K/P
It’s rare nowadays to see a player be a kicker and punter on the team, but that’s what Matthew Shipley has been doing and has done well. Shipley converted 80% of his field goals, knocking in 16 of 20. He also averaged 40.7 yards per punt from 63 punts during the season.
Adding in the fact that he led the team in points with 75 for the season.
Shipley is one of the most accurate kickers in the conference and could be in contention for the conversation of one of the best in the country. He has been steadily knocking in over 80% of his field goals in each of his last two seasons.
As a kicker and punter, Shipley is a key piece in the tertiary phase of the game and should help the team in his senior season.
10) Andrew Choi, DE
Hawaii is looking for someone on the defensive line to step up and be their top pass rusher. Senior defensive end Andrew Choi appears to be the next man in line for the Warriors after starting seven of the 13 games he appeared in. He recorded 32 tackles, five tackles for loss, and two sacks during the 2022 season.
The Warriors will be leaning heavily on Choi to step up and perform well, as well as get to the quarterback. He showed flashes of being able to rush the passer, but the team needs to see it more consistently. This is a great opportunity for the defensive lineman to showcase his skills and have his best season.