Now, to knock out a few more questions. …
Q: Can you give an update on Sesimi Tokolahi’s recovery. Will he be able to participate in fall camp and play against Eastern, or are they going to have to slowly ease him back into game speed and strength over a longer period of time.
A: UW coach Steve Sarkisian says the team remains hopeful that Tokilahi will be able to recover from the broken and dislocated ankle he suffered against Washington State and play in 2011. But he is unlikely to do much this spring while still in the rehab phase. He is attending spring practices (if you go, he’s the one wearing No. 98) but generally spends the practices doing conditioning work and is not in pads. For now, they are expecting him to be able to play in the fall. But any definitive word on exactly what he will be able to do in 2011 really won’t come until fall camp starts.
Q: Have you seen any 3-4 sets on the defense yet? If so, who lines up as the defensive ends and the linebackers?
A: UW is so early into spring that there’s a lot yet we haven’t seen. Also, we aren’t supposed to get real specific in what we see from a formation/gameplan standpoint. But Sarkisian has said several times that the Huskies will experiment with more 3-4 looks this year, so it’s really no secret there. He also said earlier this spring that one alignment they want to look at is having both Josh Shirley and Hau’oli Jamora on the field at the same time. This would likely be similar to what UW did at the end of last season where the Huskies would go into a nickel package, putting in an extra DB for a linebacker, then dropping a lineman into coverage, that sort of thing. Mason Foster did that a lot for UW last year.
So really, it may not necessarily be a traditional 3-4 in the terms of having four “linebackers” on the field, but going with an odd front in which a rush end plays the role of a linebacker. In that sort of scenario, you could see a guy like Shirley handling what might be linebacker type responsibilities at times. One guy who has appeared to get looks so far as a nickelback is Justin Glenn. Last year, it was often Sean Parker or Taz Stevenson. And typically last year, when UW went to its nickel package, the three DLs remaining were Everrette Thompson, Alameda Ta’amu and Jamora. All three of those guys return this year so that’s the kind of thing you could see again in 2011.
Q: Do the Huskies release records of how members rate/improve in weight training? Would be interesting to see not only height/weight of players but also such info as bench press, etc. and how it has changed from first time to present.
A: We don’t get that kind of detailed info, no, and almost nobody that I know of does. But in general, UW coaches say the strength is increasing across the board. Here’s an overview of the off-season workout program I wrote last month.
Q: Who are the kids emerging as leaders this year now that Jake Locker and Foster are gone? I’m guessing Chris Polk and Cort Dennison for sure, but are there others? Are they vocal leaders or quiet by example types?
A: Among the many interesting things said by Greg Christine in his chat with us yesterday is that leaders tend to emerge by position group. So as he detailed, it’s almost more accurate to look at each group and see who the leaders are there. At RB, no question it would be a guy like Polk, who I think leads both vocally and otherwise. At WR, UW has two seniors in Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar, who are obvious leaders. On the OL, Senio Kelemete, who was a captain a year ago, and Drew Schaefer appear obvious leaders. On the DL, seniors Everrette Thompson and Alameda Ta’amu are obvious leaders. At LB, Dennison is the unquestioned leader, a role I think he also fills somewhat for the entire defense. Like Polk, I think he leads both vocally and otherwise. In the secondary, Quinton Richardson and Desmond Trufant also fit the bill, though I think by nature of his position that Nate Fellner also will share some of the leadership this year.
Q: Any news/updates on how James Atoe is looking? I recall last year that Sark had some might high praise for the kid, but haven’t heard anything since. What position did he finally land at? Are they expecting him to contribute this year or somewhere down
A: No question, Sarkisian set a somewhat high bar for Atoe on signing day in 2010 when he said Atoe “is a potential top-five NFL Draft pick” someday. But don’t mistake that to mean Atoe was expected to start right away. All college players progress differently, so potentially having a high long-term ceiling doesn’t necessarily mean making an immediate impact. Atoe was always regarded as a player who likely need a few years to break into the lineup.
So far, he appears on track, spending last year as a redshirt and now sitting at No. 2 at right guard in the early stages of spring ball. He needed some weight room work to get his body in optimum Division-I football shape and he’s less than a year into that process. Realistically, he may still be a year or so away from making a big impact on the field. But so far, there’s been nothing to suggest he isn’t on track.
All for now.