THE BRENNAN FILE: Two-and-a-half years ago, at 21, Colt Brennan spent seven days in jail, convicted of burglary and criminal trespass in a University of Colorado dorm. "I did what I did," he says, acknowledging his mistake. What he did ended his career as a Buffaloes quarterback and set him to salvaging his future. A year at community college, an invite to walk on at Hawaii in 2005 and then last year's explosion. When the '06 season ended, Brennan, raised in Irvine, Calif., had an NCAA-record 58 TD passes, a 186.0 passer rating and a national profile. When this season ends, the Rainbow Warriors' leading man might have a Heisman Trophy.
On living in Hawaii
This is my sanctuary, my place to escape and find myself, and become a great quarterback in the meantime. I haven't had a bad experience since I got here. No one has ever judged me except on my character—and that after they met me. The love is still coming.
On visiting a juvenile detention center near his Honolulu apartment
I go to donate clothes, but I've also stood up and talked. I tell them I was convicted of a felony, but now I'm on top of the world. Just because you're in this place doesn't mean you'll be in and out of crime your whole life.
On a typical nonpractice day
We throw our stuff in my Jeep Cherokee and go 30 minutes to the North Shore. It's like going to a different island. Sandy Beach is the summer hot spot, with its big flows. Everyone brings something: a surfboard, a boogie board, whatever—everyone's in the water.
On surfer--football player tension
In Hawaii it seems that if you're a football player, you're not really a surfer. If you're a surfer, you're not really a football player. At a beach you could find trouble. You have to know how not to piss people off.
On having dreadlocks this summer
Half my team is Polynesian with hair to their shoulders. The other half—including our starting receivers—have dreadlocks. So they helped me get it braided. I don't have a girlfriend, and the dreadlocks weren't helping me get one. Girls hate it.
On why he cut his hair
My helmet was rubbing my head in front, and it started taking out my braids in that one area. I looked like a goof. I decided I didn't want the most disgusting haircut in college football all over Sports Illustrated.
On speaking Samoan on the field
When I got to Hawaii, I was getting into it, and we have a lot of players who speak Samoan. I started showing off what I'd learned. Next thing you knew, we were implementing Samoan in audibles. I'm afraid to give much away, but we use one word that sounds like pizza. Everyone [on the other team] thinks I'm yelling, "Pizza, pizza ... pepperoni and cheese...." They don't know what to do.
On coach June Jones's offense
He spreads responsibility across the offense, which makes it fun. I have more confidence when I don't have to call every play, change every protection and change receivers' routes. From that standpoint, Coach is a genius and I love him.
On being called a system quarterback
Damn right I am. And I love this system. But you see me make plays even when it breaks down. That separates me from guys in this system in the past.
On entering the 2007 draft, then changing his mind two days later
Everything happened too fast. Before my five TDs in the Hawaii Bowl no one talked about me as a big-time pick. Then I sent my projection to the NFL, and it came in really high—a mid-first-round pick. What the hell? Then I realized the NFL combine was soon, and I'd have to gain weight. I just wasn't ready to leave. My heart was still in Hawaii.
PHOTOGRAPH BY KIRK LEE AEDER/IMOCO MEDIA
DAVID ALLIO/ICON SMI (BRENNAN ACTION)