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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 3, 2006 at 10:44 AM

A tight (end) squeeze

Yesterday’s news on Kenny James brought with it the tidbit, via a Tim Lappano interview on KJR-AM, that Johnie Kirton may be used some as a short-yardage running back.
With the lack of depth at running back, it makes some sense.
But I also don’t think this should be interpreted in any way as a “Kirton moves back to running back” statement. I don’t think there’s much doubt that his long-term position remains tight end.
I talked with Lappano a week or so ago and got his views on the entire offense, among them what he hoped to get out of Kirton this season.
Lappano mentioned that he had just run into Kirton a few days before that.
“I told him I hope he can play up to his potential, and that we are not going to talk about your potential anymore — it’s time for you to perform,” Lappano said.
“I think he spent more time around the weight room this summer and physically, he looked good. I hadn’t seen him for a while and he looked really, really good. But it’s time for him. He’s not a youngster anymore. It’s time for him to step up and help this team get to where we want to go.”
Lappano then recalled a sequence in UW’s spring game.
“There was a play where he just unloaded on a couple of guys when he caught the ball and I had not seen that here,” Lappano said. “That was fun for me to watch because that’s what this kid can do.
“I’m fired up to see where he can go now because he’s saying all the right things, that he wants to be good and wants to help the team, and that’s good. Hopefully the light goes on and he’s going to be the player that we all hope he can be and he’s going to fulfill that potential.”
Kirton remains listed as UW’s No. 2 tight end heading into fall drills behind junior Robert Lewis, who has kept the job with steady play. Behind them is sophomore Michael Gottlieb, the former walk-on from Mercer Island who so intrigued Keith Gilbertson that one of Gilbertson’s last acts as UW’s head coach was to put him on scholarship.
After that is redshirt freshman Tim Williams.
I saw some conjecture yesterday that maybe that’s not enough for UW to be strong at the position.
But UW coach Tyrone Willingham waxes quite enthusiastic about the position in his comments in UW’s media guide for this season.
“The tight end position could be very strong for us,” Willingham said. “It could turn out to be a much-improved position than it was a year ago. Hopefully, our guys will be bigger, faster, stronger and more knowledgeable about Pac-10 football.”
James redux:
To clarify my comment here yesterday that Kenny James suffered a “seemingly minor” shoulder injury a year ago that ended up hampering him the whole season. The point was that the injury was portrayed as minor at the time it happened and instead proved to be much more than that. That’s always the worry with any injury and hopefully for UW fans, not the case with his latest hand injury.



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