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December 26, 2006

For now, Hawaii's Brennan plans to return

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HONOLULU - After breaking the NCAA single-season touchdown record, Colt Brennan isn't sure he's ready to take a shot at the NFL just yet.

So far, Brennan says he'll return to Hawaii for his senior year unless an NFL team indicates it will select him with a high draft pick.

"Right now, I'm planning on coming back next year," Brennan said.

Brennan broke the NCAA record for touchdown passes with 58 in Hawaii's 41-24 victory over Arizona State in the Hawaii Bowl on Sunday night.

He finished the game with five touchdowns, one interception and 33-of-42 passing for a school-record 559 yards.

"The NFL or whoever is really going to have to present something to get me. If not, I'm just going to come back and enjoy myself," said Brennan, who finished sixth in Heisman Trophy voting.

He certainly seemed to enjoy himself at the Hawaii Bowl, capping a season in which he led the nation in TD passes, passing yards, total offense, passing efficiency, points responsible for and completion percentage.

Brennan threw a 7-yard scoring pass to Ryan Grice-Mullen on the Warriors' second series of the second half to break the previous mark of 54 set by Houston's David Klingler in 1990, also against the Sun Devils.

Brennan then hugged coach June Jones and waved No. 1 with both hands as teammates lifted the junior into the air.

"I have never had more fun in a season ever, mostly because of my teammates," Brennan said. "You see a lot of love for each other. It's sad to see the season over."

Jones said Brennan showed that he's the top passer in the nation, even above Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and Notre Dame's Brady Quinn.

"Colt is a money guy," said Jones, who became Hawaii's winningest coach with his 64th victory in eight seasons. "Colt is what I said he is: the best college quarterback in America, and he proved it tonight."

Hawaii (11-3) matched the school mark for most wins in a season, set in 1992 when the team went 11-2.

Perhaps overlooked by Brennan's performance was receiver Jason Rivers, who was voted the game's co-MVP.

Rivers tied a school record with 14 catches for two touchdowns and 308 yards, the most in a bowl game since 1937. NCAA records don't go back any further.

He combined with Grice-Mullen and Davone Bess to create a triple threat among the Warriors' sure-handed and fleet-footed receivers. Grice-Mullen scored twice with eight catches for 111 yards, and Bess made five catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.

"This receiving corps is close. We really did something special this year," Rivers said. "We just really wanted to play hard and give it our all and leave it on the field."

In all, the Hawaii offense put together a season-high 680 total yards while holding Arizona State (7-6) to 391 yards. Hawaii trailed 10-3 at the half, but 21-points of unanswered offense in the third quarter put the Warriors ahead.

At one point this season, Hawaii won nine games in a row before falling to Oregon State. The team's other two losses came against Alabama and Boise State.

Regardless of whether Brennan returns next year, Hawaii will lose several key seniors.

They include running back Nate Ilaoa, who ran for 97 yards in 18 attempts Sunday; wide receivers Ian Sample and Ross Dickerson; offensive linemen Samson Satele, Tala Esera and Dane Uperesa; defensive linemen Ikaika Alama-Francis and Melila Purcell; and safety Leonard Peters.

"The worst thing about college football is that we're going to lose a couple of players," defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville said. "Now you got to start over."

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