FOXBOROUGH Mass. — Five-thousand miles, six time zones and one lofty goal separate Kamu Grugier-Hill from family and friends in his native Hawaii.

When the rookie linebacker arrives at Gillette Stadium – 5:30 a.m. most days – he sometimes thinks about how his buddies might still be out on the town or his relatives are getting ready to call it a night. He misses Honolulu but is focused and committed to the task at hand.

That would be to go from being a sixth-round draft choice in May to making the Patriots’ 53-man roster in September.

“I’ll have the rest of my life to go back,” Grugier-Hill said earlier this week. “I have to take care of business right now so it’s not on my mind, to be honest.”

Based on his play in training camp and the preseason, Grugier-Hill has positioned himself to close the deal.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Eastern Illinois alum – he was a college teammate of Jimmy Garoppolo for two years – was a two-year starter and four-year contributor. The playmaking linebacker ranked 16th in the nation with 161/2 tackles for a loss and second on the team with 61/2 sacks as a senior.

The Patriots liked Grugier-Hill’s certified productivity and potential versatility to draft him with the 208th overall selection. They haven’t been disappointed even as he’s been thrust into a new, hybrid role.

Grugier-Hill is listed on the roster and has lined up as a linebacker. But he’s also been deployed as an in-the-box safety along with contributing on all four special teams units.

“So it’s different than what he did in college,” Coach Bill Belichick said. “But he’s a smart kid, he’s athletic, he’s got a good work ethic, he’s been a very dependable player for us on a daily basis.

“(Just) coming in, knowing what to do, being prepared, working hard to do it, correcting his mistakes, moving on to the next day. All those kinds of things that are good qualities to have. And he’s making a lot of progress, so we’ll see where it goes.”

Grugier-Hill combined for three tackles on defense and three tackles on special teams in the first two exhibition games. He also batted down a pass and served as the defensive signal-caller for a spell.

In the process, he’s gone from being a definite long shot to a likely sure shot to make the team. Not that he’s given much thought to remaining employed in New England after this month.

“I don’t really pay attention to that kind of stuff,” Grugier-Hill said. “The way I am, the way my confidence is and my mentality is, I’m going to come in here every day and work. Put my best foot forward and most of the time, you just have to work hard, and it just kind of ends up being OK.”

Grugier-Hill, 22, has come a long way, in terms of distance and development, in a short time.

Soccer was his sport before he lost interest as a teen. Then, prior to his junior year of high school, a friend suggested he try football.

Grugier-Hill made the Kamehameha High varsity but only played in a couple of games before having a breakout senior season. From there it was on to Eastern Illinois and now New England, where he has started to feel more at ease.

“I feel a lot more comfortable when it’s all said and done, but there’s really no time for comfortable,” Grugier-Hill said. “I just have to go out there every day and prove what I can do and keep working.”