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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 9, 2009 at 2:50 PM

Fellner anxious for his chance

Thursday’s news that Nate Williams will miss the Arizona game with a concussion nesures that true freshman Nate Fellner will see action at least as a reserve, if not as a starter.
Greg Walker was expected to start until suffering a knee injury Wednesday. Walker came back on Thursday and appeared good to go, but Fellner also took reps with the starting unit and both seem likely to play Saturday a part of what will be a new safety corps — Victor Aiyewa will fill in at strong safety with Justin Glenn out for the season (technically, Fellner-Walker are filling in Glenn’s spot but since Williams can play both it’s his loss that opens up that spot).
Fellner has played the last two weeks on special teams taking part in two tackles against Notre Dame.
“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” said the true freshman from Fresno to reporteres earlier this week. “It’s good to get reps with the first team, and get comfortable with the guys. It’s a lot easier to grasp the defense when you get reps out there, so I’m starting to feel more comfortable out there. By Saturday, I should be good to go.
“As I get more reps, the game slows down. I can play more freely, just play football instead of thinking too much.”
UW coach Steve Sarkisian said earlier this week that he thinks Fellner is ready.
“He’s a guy who has been working extremely hard and has done a nice job with his stuff on special teams and is starting to understand the defense more and more,” Sarkisian said. “He showed up on the special teams last week with a couple of tackles and he’s got a nice feel for the game. He keeps growing on everybody because he does stuff right and he plays physical and fast and obviously he has the blood lines with coach Jim Sweeney being his grand father. He’s got football in his blood and it shows.”
Fellner was an early commit to UW during the summer of 2008 when Tyrone Willingham was still UW’s coach. He was one of just three Willingham commits to end up signing with UW. He said his other heavy consideration was Stanford
“They wanted me at running back,” he said. “Washington came at me as a safety, and that is what I think is my best feature ahead of me. That is where I’ve been most comfortable with.”
It’s interesting to note now that the Huskies may even need him to start that Sarkisian had asked Fellner last spring if he might be amenable to greyshirting to make all the scholarships fit. But by May it was evident the scholarship numbers wouldn’t be a problem and Fellner was no longer needed to greyshirt (Will Shamburger had also initiallly been approached about greyshirting).
“It was a little hectic,” Fellner said. “There was a numbers’ problem they had. I just stayed patient. I was working out in Fresno. I was ready if they wanted to bring me up. Got the call in May that they weren’t going to grey-shirt me, so I was really excited. I came in trying to contribute. … I honestly didn’t want to grey-shirt. I think I was a better caliber than that. They gave me an opportunity, and I was grateful for it.”
He said playing and having success on special teams the last two weeks should make it easier should he have to get on the field Saturday.
“That really gave me a big confidence boost,” he said. “Once I saw I could play at this level and actually make plays, I started to believe more in myself. I’ve taken it from there, and just kept working hard.”
He said he actually hasn’t played that much free safety.
“I started playing free safety my senior year,” he said. “Junior year, I was playing strong safety. Senior year, got used to it, and was comfortable with it. Came here to (fall) camp, and they had me at strong (safety) at first, then moved me to free (safety). I just stuck to the grind. Now things are starting to happen.”

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