Hawaii QB Moniz delivers pizzas, touchdowns

HONOLULU (AP) - Bryant Moniz has been delivering for a long time, way before tossing touchdown passes as Hawaii's star quarterback.

After a season at Fresno City College in California, Moniz returned to the islands and spent nearly two years delivering pizzas in his 1986 Mazda pickup truck to support his newborn daughter as he walked on with the Warriors.

"I would play football then I would go to work and I'm just another employee - just another delivery boy," Moniz said. "It kept me grounded. It kept me humble. It kept me working hard."

Moniz quickly ascended the Warriors' depth chart and eventually earned a scholarship, which helped him leave Papa John's Pizza and focus more time being a father and a football player. Moniz is now expected to deliver one thing in his senior season - wins.

"His desire to be great is very high," Hawaii offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich said. "He's very focused on being the best quarterback he can. He realizes he's living his dream and he doesn't want to wake up yet."

Moniz began the 2009 season as the third-string quarterback, but injuries pushed Moniz into the starting role by the fifth game.

He broke out last year, leading the nation in passing yards a game (360) and touchdown passes (39). He completed 65 percent of his passes, throwing for 5,040 yards in 14 games, becoming just the 11th Football Bowl Subdivision quarterback to break 5,000 yards in a season. This season, he is the preseason Western Athletic Conference player of year and the university has been promoting "Mighty Mo" for the Heisman Trophy.

Moniz said he's confident, anxious to get the season started and doesn't worry about all the added expectations or attention.

"I don't carry that with me in my day or in practice," he said. "I always say, if we lose all our games, it's not going to mean anything. We just have to take care of football."

Moniz said his personal goal isn't winning the Heisman or piling up the stats. He wants to win and "manage" each game correctly. "That's don't turn over the ball, keep the offense on the field, put up points and take care of all the little things that will help us win the game like complete passes," he said.

Hawaii, which opens the season Saturday at home against Colorado, is favored to win the WAC, which is now without powerhouse Boise State.

This season, however, Moniz won't have several of his offensive weapons from last year including receivers Greg Salas, Kealoha Pilares and running back Alex Green. All three were drafted in the NFL.

"I think the previous years it was me catching up to the other players that have been here. This year, the role has kind of flipped," said Moniz, one of the team captains. "It's become my responsibility to help everybody else catch up to my speed of the game and get the knowledge of our offense."

Moniz is a laid back and humble as the rural community of Wahiawa he grew up in, a rural, blue-collar community and home to the sprawling Army base, Schofield Barracks. The town is less than a half-hour away from Aloha Stadium.

So he's still getting adjusted to all the adoration. Football is king in Hawaii, so Moniz is now considered royalty as the Warriors' quarterback.

"A lot of people come up to me and are shocked it's me. I'm just like, 'Hi,"' Moniz said. "I don't think of me as that person. It's very surreal. I think the greatest thing is that it shows other local kids here if I can do it, they can."

Rolovich said Moniz handles it well.

"He's only focused on being best guy he can be and best teammate he can be. That's just who he is," Rolovich said. "He's very secure with who he is and he works hard. It should equal good results."

Warriors coach Greg McMackin said Moniz has progressed every year and expects him to have another impressive season despite the new faces on the receiving corps. McMackin rejected any comparisons of Moniz with former Warriors' record-breaking quarterback Colt Brennan.

"Mo has his own game," McMackin said. "He studies as hard as any quarterback I've been around, pro or college. He goes beyond studying. He's always working at it. I don't want to compare him with anybody. Mo is Mo and what you see is what you get."

Besides his pizza boy past, Moniz's daughter Cali, now 3, also helps keep him grounded and working hard. At a few practices, Cali can be seen behind the chain-link fence calling out, "Daddy!"

"I enjoy every minute I get to be with her," he said. "If I have a bad football game or something like that, I go home and forget about everything. I'm not the quarterback that just lost the game, I'm just dad."

After the games, win or lose, Cali always has a message: "Good job."

"I don't think she knows what's she's saying, but she hears other people saying it," Moniz said. "(Fatherhood) puts life in perspective. It helped me grow up a lot faster than maybe a lot of other guys on our team. It gave me more responsibility. But I wouldn't change anything if I could go back. It's a joy."

And as the football season gets under way, Moniz has a message to all the fans who plan to order pizza - tip well.

"Everybody needs to give their pizza boy $5," Moniz said. "You drive your car from place to place and gas is ridiculous nowadays. Ever since I worked that job, I tip everywhere I go very well."


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