We’ll start our review of Spring Practice today with a look at five breakout stars of the session (in no particular order):
1, QB Keith Price: Can a returning two-year starter really be a breakout player? He can if there is some thought heading into the spring that his job is in jeopardy. Price, though, quickly quashed any idea that there was a real debate about who would be the starter, with solid play from day one of the spring. Price (above) was assertive running the up-tempo offense, which suits his strengths and is something he has excelled at in the past, and he seemed less tentative when running. Don’t let the Spring Game stats themselves fool you about how well Price played the rest of the time.
2, WR DiAndre Cambell: If odds had been given on who would emerge as the outside receiving complement to Kasen Williams this spring, James Johnson and Kevin Smith would have been at the top of the list. Instead, Campbell — a junior with just 18 career receptions to his name — grabbed the spot midway through and held on to it until the end of the spring. Campbell was simply more consistent running routes and catching the ball, which added to his blocking, which has always been among the best of the receivers. He’ll face plenty of competition in the fall when the much-touted freshmen trio arrive. But for now Campbell appears to at least have earned himself a regular spot on the field in 2013.
3, Rush end Cory Littleton: In what was probably an under-noticed move during spring, Littleton was switched to being used solely as a rush end rather than also as a traditional linebacker, and by the end of spring appeared to be at least splitting time with Josh Shirley with the starters, if not sometimes running ahead of Shirley. The Huskies want to get to where they have 8-10 linemen to rotate in regularly, so the designation of starter may not be all that relevant here — both will see the field a lot. For Littleton, though, the spring was a statement that he had taken the next step from a guy on the field in spot duty last year to one who now appears to have a regular home.
4, TE Josh Perkins: The biggest negative of the spring was the arrest and indefinite suspension of tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The lone positive from that situation is that the other three tight ends got a lot more work. And the one who might have taken the most advantage was Perkins, a sophomore who entered the spring listed also as a receiver. His designation was changed solely to tight end by the end of spring. But the way UW uses its tight ends means they often are split out, which best suits the skills of Perkins, who at a listed 6-3, 216 (though I’m sure he actually weighs a little more than that now) doesn’t quite fit the traditional tight end mold as do Evan Hudson and Michael Hartvigson. And given that he has a little different skill set, Perkins appears set to get on the field more regularly in 2013.
5, C, Mike Criste: The big question for the offensive line entering the spring was who would replace the departed Drew Schaefer at center. At the pre-spring press conference, coach Steve Sarkisian held out the thought that Erik Kohler might take over the spot once he returned from injury for the second session of spring drills. But by then, Criste had taken a stranglehold on the job, moving to center after having started the last six games of 2013 at guard. Kohler, and Colin Tanigawa (assuming he makes it back from injury) could each get looks at center in the fall. But for now, Criste will enter fall camp as the starter there, earning praise of his ability to quickly get the line in order in the new up-tempo offense.