Warriors football preview: Defensive lineman Andrew Choi

Aug. 25—For Andrew Choi, the creatures have formed good habits.

Versatility came from the Red Elephant, a Thai restaurant where he worked a year ago.

"It was my first job," he said. "It was fun, a great atmosphere. The boss lady, Som, treated you like family over there."

Choi was a server, waiter, busser, cleaner. "Whatever they needed," he said. "Working as a server, I told myself that is something I'd never want to do. But I loved it. It was a good experience to do different things."

As a D-end in the Rainbow Warriors' four- or odd-man fronts, Choi is versatile in clogging the run gaps, bracketing the edge, looping into the backfield or occupying double blocks to open the way for swooping linebackers. "D-ends have to do a lot of things," he said.

A dragon — which is etched into his skin — is symbolic of his rugged play. "I've always wanted this cool tattoo," he said. "I like the energy it has and the meaning behind it, just the ferocious fierceness (of a dragon)."

The wild boar is the reward for preparation, patience and trapping, much like an opposing quarterback boxed into a collapsing pass pocket. Last year, Choi amassed three sacks, a quarterback hit and 13 hurries.

Choi has had a unique path to college football. He grew up in a bilingual house. (His parents, who were born and reared in South Korea, moved to Hawaii before Choi was born.) At 6 feet 1, Choi is 5 inches taller than his father but 2 inches shorter than older brother Zeno Choi, a former standout defensive lineman for the Warriors.

Choi began playing organized football when he was 11. "Zeno made me cry at my first practice ever," Choi recalled. "He was yelling at me because I didn't know the difference between a lineman and a skill player."

Choi quickly learned the difference. "I was a lineman right off the bat," he said. "I was one of the bigger kids, and I wasn't that big."

He starred at Kaiser High, just like his brother, and then joined the Warriors as a walk-on, also like Zeno. Off the field, the younger Choi, who earned a scholarship last year, is quick-witted and knee-slapping humorous. On the field, he is quick-footed with pad-slapping moves.

"It's a switch," he said of his personality shifts. "I'll always joke around when things are hard. I'll try to be positive. But there's a time, especially during games, when you have to be ready to roll. Physicality, that's all it is. You have to be physical. You can't be pushed around. You can't be bullied. You have to assert yourself on the field."

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