The Huskies will be back at it today, taking the field at 4 p.m. for their seventh practice of the spring.
Given that this starts the third week of practice —- with Thursday’s workout marking the halfway point — I thought it might be time to quickly review what has happened so far. So we’ll do so with a brief review of each position to date.
(If you’re wondering about the picture, it’s a photo of Senio Kelemete during his high school days at Evergreen making a tackle of Nolan Washington of Kennedy, who now plays for Washington State.)
QUARTERBACK: Jake Locker is obviously the starter and has looked solid so far, earning Steve Sarkisian’s Player of the Day honors one day last week and looking sharp in two series in the scrimmage on Saturday. Keith Price continues to run ahead of Nick Montana in the rotation at QB, but Montana appears to be closing the gap on the competition for the No. 2 spot, showing a stronger arm than some anticipated, and the poise and command of the offense that might have been expected given his pedigree.
TAILBACK: Chris Polk is out for the spring after having off-season shoulder surgery (he does some limited work in practice but no contact) leaving the position to others this spring. Johri Fogerson appears at the top of the depth chart but freshmen Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper are closing fast and each would play if the Huskies had a game today, Sarkisian said after practice on Saturday. Demitrius Bronson has been used as a fullback the past three practices and his future could be there. Brandon Yakaboski has not practice all spring while dealing with a chornic knee injury that could end his career. That could leave UW with just four tailbacks for the fall, with the emergence of the two true frosh making things a little more comfortable.
FULLBACK: One positions that seems a real jumble. As far as I can tell, Austin Sylvester remains atop the depth chart. But converted tight end Dorson Boyce appears to also be getting a lot of work, and seems to make the most impact catching passes out of the backfield. Kimo Makaula also is in the running here as is Bronson if he remains at fullback.
RECEIVER: No real changes here, which is good news considering this may be UW’s strongest overall position. The starters have remained constant throughout the spring, with the one noteworthy item being that James Johnson looks a little filled out from last fall, which would seem to make it more likely he could avoid hitting the proverbial “freshman wall” that appeared to take its toll late last season. The two disconcerting notes would be injuies to D’Andre Goodwin (hamstring) and Cody Bruns (concussion) that held each out of the scrimmage Saturday. Neither appears serious, but both need to stay healthy to get on the field consistently this fall.
TIGHT END: Kavario Middleton and Chris Izbicki continue to run 1-2 with freshman Marlion Barnett. Those are the only three scholarship TEs on the roster, making this a position that’s not quite as deep as some may think. Middleton appears in better shape this spring and Izbicki has also been lauded by the coaches for his off-season. Barnett appears adept at making plays down field. Coaches say the entire position needs to get better blocking.
OFFENSIVE LINE: In what may be the best news for the offense of the spring, the revamped line has remained intact, indicating that the coaches are seeing what they wanted from all the moves they made. Those included moving Kelemete to left tackle, a move Sarkisian says has been a huge success so far, Drew Schaefer to center and Ryan Tolar to guard. Mykenna Ikehara (guard) and Skyler Fancher (tackle) have been the other starters throughout the spring. Cody Habben will return in the fall to compete for the right tackle spot, so this could be the most solid group UW has had since 2007. Also pretty good news among the backups, notably that Greg Christine, an emotional leader and heady player, has looked healthy after recovering from a broken leg and ankle ligament injury suffered last season. Conventional wisdom around the program is that as many as three true freshmen could contend for significant playing time in the fall — Erik Kohler, Colin Porter and Micah Hatchie being the most likely.
DEFENSIVE LINE: This remains the most uncertain position on the field, and we won’t really know what this is going to look like until the fall when we see if Everrette Thompson and Kalani Aldrich return from injuries. Conventional wisdom around the program is that each will be back for the fall, which would help matters greatly. But with the DE spot remaining a real issue, Cameron Elisara has been moved to that spot, an experiment that looks like it has a real chance at success. One reason coaches made that move is that junior Tyrone Duncan has had a good spring so far, earning confidence he can be in the rotation at tackle in the fall. Alameda Ta’amu, Semisi Tokolahi and Chris Robinson have also all been healthy and showing signs of promise in the early going, as well. And then there’s the specter of Sione Potoa’e arriving in the fall at tackle. So UW could have a decent rotation at tackle in the fall, allowing Elisara to stay at DE, which would help mitigate any unexpected bumps in the road to recovery for Thompson and Aldrich. Given everything, this position has probably looked a little better than might have been thought throughout the first two weeks.
LINEBACKERS: Two of the most set positions on the team are Cort Dennison at MLB and Mason Foster at WLB. Alvin Logan remains atop the depth chart at SLB and had a nice scrimmage Saturday with two sacks. Victor Aiyewa will also be in the mix at that spot in the fall once healthy. True freshman Victor Burnett has also had some nice moments in the middle and appears to be a legit candidate to see the field at that spot in the fall. Jordan Wallace has also had some nice moments at WLB.
SECONDARY: Injuries cloud the picture a little bit here, notably with Desmond Trufant out with a groin injury. That has opened the door for guys like former starters Quinton Richardson and Vonzell McDowell to reassert themselves at cornerback, each spending some time working with the No. 1 unit. There’s been lots of experimentation at CB throughout the spring so you can’t always just look at the lineups and see who is where, but Adam Long and Richardson appeared to run as the No. 1s in the scrimmage Saturday with McDowell, Anthony Boyles and Anthony Gobern as the backups. Justin Glenn has been in and out while recovering from his injury and Nathan Fellner appears to be solidifying his hold on the free safety job. Nate Williams has been limited of late with a head injury but holds down the strong safety spot. The coaches have been taking a long look at a now-healthy Will Shamburger at strong safety with Williams out.
SPECIAL TEAMS: There wasn’t any return work during the scimmage Saturday so we have yet to see any of that in a real game-like setting. The two kicking spots remain set with Erik Folk at PK and Will Mahan at punter. Folk’s been a little inconsistent this spring, but given his performance last season it doesn’t seem like an issue. Brendan Lopez appears to be nailing down the snapper spot. Bruns was doing a nice job holding until being hurt — Mahan has handled those duties in his absence. Callier and Cooper have each been among the return candidates in practice along with holdovers such as Devin Aguilar, Fogerson and Jordan Polk.
And remember, live chat today (Tuesday) at noon.