Never been afraid to copy a good idea if I see one. And ESPN.com’s Ted Miller had a good one today with his “Best of Spring” list of happenings around the Pac-10.
With spring football for UW having ended exactly a week ago today, figured it wasn’t too late to look back — though probably time to do it before it gets too far into the past.
So here we go:
SPRING MVP, OFFENSE: Left tackle Senio Kelemete (pictured, right). The contributions of guys who handle the ball are usually easier to gague, and there were some good ones throughout the spring, mainly from the running back position and Jake Locker. But Kelemete emerged as a rock at one of the most vital positions on the team, moving from right guard to left tackle. And he did it so well that UW coach Steve Sarkisian said midway through the spring that he expects Kelemete will be an all-conference player by the time his UW career is through. If so, that would be a huge boon for a program that hasn’t had an all-conference offensive lineman since 2001. And the fact that Kelemete will apparently secure the left tackle spot for the next two years will make it easier for the coaches to mix and match some of the other spots to form the best line possible.
SPRING MVP, DEFENSE: Defensive lineman Cameron Elisara. Elisara made a move similar to Kelemete’s, spending much of the spring at end instead of his usual tackle spot to help make up for some well-documented depth issues on the edge. And he appeared to do it about as successfully as Kelemete, with UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt saying late in the spring that “I didn’t think he’d be as good a defensive end as he’s become.” That’s another transition that should help this team greatly as it attempts to solve maybe its biggest problem — depth and experience at defensive end — heading into the fall. Elisara also managed to stay healthy, taking part in all 15 spring practices, saying after it was done he was never bothered by the stinger issues that sidelined him the last month of the 2009 season.
SPRING BREAKOUT STAR, OFFENSE: Running backs Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier. The two true frosh came to UW with a lot of fanfare as the two leading rushers in the state of California last year, so expectations were high. Still, as coaches always say, you never know for sure. But it didn’t take long — just a day or so — for it to become apparent each was the real deal. Callier got hurt at the end of the spring, and Cooper didn’t have a great spring game. But that doesn’t detract from the overall picture that UW appears to have added greatly to its depth at tailback.
SPRING BREAKOUT STAR, DEFENSE: Safety Will Shamburger. Given that he’d missed all of last season while recovering from surgery to repair a knee injury suffered playing basketball in high school, no one really had a clue what to expect of Shamburger this spring. But it became quickly evident he was a player, and by the end of the spring he was a potential starter, running with the ones at free safety the last week or so. Coaches praised his ability to quickly pick up the defense and he displayed the athleticism needed to play the position. His quick emergence helped settle the decision to start touted incoming frosh Sean Parker at strong safety when fall camp rolls around. The Shamburger-Nate Fellner competition at this spot will be one of the most intriguing of the fall.
Honorable mention: CB Anthony Boyles, who played his way into the rotation and was the star of the spring game.
WALK-ONS OF THE SPRING: Offensive tackle Daniel Kanczugowski and WR William Chandler. Kanczugowski, a graduate of O’Dea, spent the last couple weeks running with the ones at right tackle, moving past Skyler Fancher. Cody Habben, who sat out the spring while recovering from shoulder surgery, will likely move back into the starting spot there once fall camp begins. But Kanczugowski did enough to indicate he could be in the rotation this fall. Chandler, a Skyline High grad, took advantage of injuries to scholarship players to spend much of the spring running with the No. 2 offense, prompting WR coach Jimmie Dougherty to say he won’t be surprised if Chandler gets on the field this fall. Chandler capped his good spring with five catches in the spring game.
POSITION OF THE SPRING: Tailback. While Cooper and Callier got much of the attention early, it was veterans Johri Fogerson and Demitrius Bronson who stole the show in the spring game — Bronson leading all rushers with 72 yards on 11 carries, Fogerson getting 50 on eight. Combine that foursome with starter Chris Polk — who sat out the spring recovering from a shoulder injury — and the Huskies appear as deep and talented at the tailback position since the mid-90s.
Honorable mention: Cornerback. Veterans Vonzell McDowell Jr., and Quinton Richardson had good springs, spending much of it as the No. 1 duo with Desmond Trufant injured and Adam Long simply not playing as well. Throw in the emergence of Boyles, and the competition at this spot appears as if it will be more heated than ever in the fall.
DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE SPRING: Probably the inability of some of the backup receivers to stay healthy throughout. D’Andre Goodwin, bothered by a hamstring injury last spring, suffered another one early in the spring and missed much of it. Jordan Polk also sat out significant periods of the spring with a hamstring injury, though he came back to lead all receivers with seven catches in the spring game. And Cody Bruns also missed time with a concussion. UW is set with its three starting receivers, but is hoping for some of the others to step forward and play consistently, and show they can stay healthy, to work provide competition for the top group.
UNSUNG PLAYERS OF THE SPRING: Inevitably, some guys have good springs but maybe don’t get a lot of notice, with the focus on invariably going to new guys, or guys who change positions, etc. Here are a few guys whose good springs might not have gotten a lot of attention:
— WR James Johnson. Looked more mature physically and quietly made plays all spring, then lead the No. 1 unit in the spring game with four catches.
— TE Chris Izbicki. Moved ahead of Kavario Middleton on the depth chart at TE.
— DT Alameda Ta’amu. Looked a little slimmer and at times looked dominant inside. Had five tackles, including a game-high 1.5 for a loss, in the spring game.
— MLB Cort Dennison. Moved to the middle and only reinforced the high confidence coaches have in him with steady play throughout, including seven tackles and a sack in the spring.
— DE Talia Crichton. One reason UW coaches felt a little better about the situation up front as the spring wore on was the progress of Crichton, who was the starter throughout at one DE spot.
QUOTE OF THE SPRING: “I think we have a chance to surprise some people on defense,” — Holt. The UW defensive coordinator is not afraid to call it as he sees it, but his outlook on the defense appeared to only get brighter as the spring wore on.