UW football coach Steve Sarkisian jokingly called it “Throwback Thursday” as the Huskies practiced to a steady stream of mostly hip-hop hits of the ’80s and ’90s. Songs like “Super Freak,” “Bust A Move” and “Wild Thing.”
But apparently UW safety Will Shamburger (pictured at right) thought it was “Throwdown Thursday” as you’d have never known it was not really a full-contact practice watching the freshman from St. John Bosco High in southern California plow through the offense.
Shamburger laid hit after hit on the offense as he had the latest in what has been a string of good practices of late, emerging as a legitimate contender to see the field this fall.
Listed at 6-foot, 188-pounds, Shamburger sat out last season while rehabbing an ACL injury suffered while playing basketball during his senior year of high school, and after appearing to shake off the rust in early practices, now says he’s back to 100 percent.
“He’s had a nice kind of second quarter of spring,” Sarkisian said after what was UW’s eighth of 15 spring practices. “I thought the first three days or so he might have been a little tentative and hesitant coming off his injury. But the last four practices he’s been really productive and not just in his movement but in showing a physicality in his play that is catching everybody’s attention. The offensive players too, they don’t like being hit by the guy. So we are extremely excited. It’s a huge addition for us.”
His emergence only strengthens a safety position that loomed as a potential upgrade for UW this season. Senior Nate Williams is back at strong safety and sophomore Nate Fellner at free safety. Sophomores Justin Glenn and Greg Walker are also back, and touted recruit Sean Parker arrives in the fall. Shamburger will add depth and competition, playing primarily strong safety — he showed some good lateral speed by chasing down Jesse Callier for roughly no gain on one play.
“I felt like I did good, but I still need some more improvement,” Shamburger said afterward. “I still mess up my assignments and my alignment and I still need to be coached. I felt like I did good and my effort was there, but at the same time, I need to learn all my assignments and plays.”
UW got Shamburger pretty late in the game in 2009 as Sarkisian scrambled to put together his first class. Shamburger said some schools were leery after he hurt his knee but that UW stayed firm with its offer.
“They said they wanted to stick with me and they thought I was a good player,” he said. “And I said ‘they believe in me. I’ll go to this school.’ Arizona State, Boise State andn Utah started to call me when they heard of the (UW) offer, but I told them ‘no, I’m not going to yall’s school. You didn’t have enough faith in me. I’m going to Washington.”’
Sarkisian said he wasn’t scared off by the injury because his history has shown him that young athletes that are in good condition tend to recover quickly and fully.
“To me it’s not a factor,” he said. “We knew what kind of player Will was at St. John Bosco (the same school as UW QB Keith Price). Not only a football player but a basketball player. Now that he is back healthy, we are seeing it. He’s a terrific athlete.”
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— There were no new apparent injuries as the team didn’t usually go to full contact with the players in only helmets and shoulder pads and shorts. The only new injury from a past practice is center Greg Christine, who is limited with turf toe. That has had Ryan Tolar working at center with the second team the past two practices. The Huskies also continue to use Drew Schaefer some at left tackle to create depth there.
— WR Jordan Polk also was out with a lingering hamstring injury.
— Asked how Schaefer is coming along at center, Sarkisian said: “It’s new. Any time you go from left tackle to all the sudden you’ve got your hand on the football and the guy across from you weighs 350 pounds, it’s a challenge. So there are some things he’s struggled with. But he is getting better. What we love is that he is so bright. We generally don’t have guys running free in our backfield whether it’s the run game or the pass game (because) he gets our calls done. And he’s got long enough levers he can reach guys and do some things in the run game.”
— The team continues to experiment with returners but Sarkisian said nothing has been decided. “I think when we get Chris Polk back, he’s a natural guy,” he said. “I thought he was the best one at it for us last year. Obviously our two new guys have done some nice things for us there. We will continue to assess guys and as we adjust our returns, some guys might be a little better than others.”
— PK Erik Folk has been inconsistent this spring and missed about a 37-yarder on the final play, apparently giving the win for the day to the defense.
— Callier and Deontae Cooper again had nice days.
— The team will scrimmage a little bit Saturday but not as much as a week ago as the Huskies host their annual coaches clinic. With the coaches in town, Sarkisian said he wants to let them see what a usual UW practice looks like. The Huskies will next hold a full-scale scrimmage on April 24.
— One of the coaches who will be at the clinic watched practice Thursday, Jim Ewan of Chandler High in Ariz. He is also the coach for Brett Hundley, a four-star QB recruit who has an offer from UW.
All for now.
April 15, 2010 at 7:48 PM
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