Only six more days till the Huskies open up against Syracuse and I feel pretty good about our early season prospects so far. We start off with John Boyle of the Everett Herald who writes a nice piece on Nate Williams, and other frosh that should make an impact this Fall.
Before the start of Washington's fall camp, freshman Nate Williams, who was recruited as a tailback, walked into Huskies coach Tyrone Willingham's office and decided he was ready for a change.Williams, a two-way star at Burien's Kennedy High School, was ready to give up the glory of touchdowns to play safety.
Look for Nate, if he stays healthy, to morph into a starter pretty quickly at Safety. No knock on Mesphin Forrester at all, but he may have to slide over to corner at one point in the season if depth gets shallow over there. Mesphin has been a jack of all trades the past couple of years in the defensive backfield. Even though Williams has less experience he has shown himself to be the superior athlete in the early going.
Corner Back Vonzell McDowell
Cornerback Byron Davenport is still battling a hamstring injury, as is receiver Cody Ellis. When asked about Davenport's chances of playing next week, defensive coordinator Kent Baer said that he didn't "see any way he's going to be in there."
You hate to start a frosh at CB in game one, but let me remind you that the last time we started a freshman corner back from Rainier Beach things turned out pretty well. Of course I am talking about the great Nate Robinson who pound for pound, and inch per inch was the greatest athlete ever to attend UW.
Vonzell of course isn't Nate, but he has impressed coaches enough in the early going that they envision him as a four year starter at the position. JD Williams says it may take about two games for him to adjust to the role, but that isn't too bad.
Davenport of course will be back, and the former Long Beach Poly athlete will have a big impact this season once his hamstring is better, but it is nice to see them have that type of confidence in Vonzell.
Tailback Brandon Johnson
"He's a way better inside runner than we thought," said offensive coordinator Tim Lappano. "He's pretty sturdy, but in high school he was one of those guys off tackle, outside, who outran everybody. But he runs the ball up in there hard for a smaller guy. He can hit the hole quick. He's got instant acceleration, he's very physical inside. He could eventually be that third and short guy, because he slams it in there like you're supposed to."
All four freshman RB's are probably going to play this year, but the guy that seems to have popped out of the pack at this point is Brandon Johnson who will return punts, and kickoffs for the Huskies this year. the most important thing he has showed the coaches so far is that he can hold onto the ball. Brandon hasn't fumbled once this season and has returned punts for TD's in scrimmages which is something Washington has lacked for quite some time. He is also pushing JR Hasty for the back up RB job. Blocking assignments are the key thing they are looking for in that position, all four of the frosh can run the ball.
Quarterback Ronnie Fouch
God help us if he has to take a snap this year because it means that Locker, and Bonnell are injured, but if he does get a shot this kid figures to do pretty well. Fouch has impressed since the moment he arrived on campus this past Spring. He has a high football IQ, and he picks things up pretty quickly. Fouch will be the starting QB one day, no doubt about it, but let's hope it is a few years in the future. The Husky QB position is in the best shape it has been in since the days of Lambo. The Dawg's figure to bring in 2-3 more in 2008, so we should be back to full strength by next Fall.
Tailback Curtis Shaw
Curtis has impressed the coaches with his ability to run the ball. Curtis could be the fastest guy on the team and he is the likely candidate to be paired with Johnson on kick off returns. Speed kills, and UW has lacked speed, look for Curtis to get some carries, and play quite a bit on special teams.
Tailback Willie Griffin
Willie reminds people of a bowling ball when he run the ball, the kid is pretty thick, and runs well on the inside. Willie is more than just a power back, he has the ability to break them long also. Willie is going to get some carries this year.
Tailback Brandon Yakaboski
This kid has been the surprise of camp, and even though he is out right now with a concussion the coaches feel they have a kid who runs strong, loves to hit people, and will be an instant terror on special teams. A friend of mine who went to practice says this kid just knocks the snot out of people. I'm not sure how bad the concussion is, but he should be playing on special teams against Syracuse if he is recovered.
Linebacker Mason Foster
Anyone who saw this kids film last year knew he was going to be a special player. The frosh from tiny Oceanside didn't make the radar of most Pac Ten teams, but Timm Lappano knew about him from when he was an assistant with the 49ers. Mason is going to be in the rotation this year at LB, and he is going to be another part of the infusion of speed, and hitting ability which should make our special teams more enjoyable to watch this season.
Talking about special teams, they haven't been a high point of Willingham's tenure, and they have taken a lot of heat about it. The key to special teams is always depth, and young talent which UW simply hasn't had enough of in recent years. The class of 2007, plus the 2006 redshirts are going to really improve this aspect of the team in 2007.
Kicker Erik Folk
Erik hasn't seen much action this camp because of lower back spasm's, but from what the coaches have seen he has a very strong leg, and once those issues are over he should assume the place kicking position over the next four years. Look for the Huskies to ease him in as the season goes on. He has a good shot of being the kickoff guy against Syracuse.
TE Chris Izbicki is most likely going to be redshirting this year because of all the depth ahead of him at the position. Nothing much has changed at TE, too many dropped balls in practice, and missed blocking assignments, still Chris hasn't shown enough to pull into the rotation. Blocking is the most important part of this position, and it is quite a bit to ask any frosh to come in immediately and have an impact.
Wide Receivers Anthony Boyles, and Devin Aguillar are still hoping to get passing test scores on September 15th which would allow them to join the team when school starts. Aguilar seems the closest at this point, but both have an excellent chance of getting in. Because of the late start neither is likely to play this season, and if they don't pass expect them just to keep testing and try to qualify for Winter Quarter. If they don't make it by then expect them both to take the JC route, but I am keeping my fingers crossed because word on the street is they have a pretty good shot.
Defensive backs Victor Aiyewa, Quentin Richardson, and Marquis Persley are all guys that could see some time if injuries crop up, but at this point the coaches would like to see them sit out a year to mature.
All the defensive, and offensive linemen will redshirt this year. Not much written on these kids because as usual lineman have the farthest to go before seeing playing time. Right now all our swimming trying to learn technique, the play book, and physically mature. Nick Wood who was probably the closest to being ready had surgery on his wrist at the beginning of camp and is still a week, or two away from practicing.
LB Austin Sylvester was at Spring practice this year. Sylvester who is the product of a Prep school is actually a year older than all the other incoming frosh. The extra year of HS, Spring practice, and maturity hasn't been his ticket onto the field at the MLB position. Something tells me this kid may end up at FB before all is said and done. Dennison who is the other frosh LB needs a year in the system, and the weight room.
Nathan Ware on Matt Mosley
Nathan makes a good point, but that is a move that is more likely this Spring. Mosley will play as much at CB, as he will at WR this year, so no hurry. We need him more at CB right now.
This confirms another point of mine: Matt Mosley is playing on the wrong side of the ball. He needs to move back to WR which is where he started his UW career. Had we not had some issues getting CB's academically admitted to UW, he would have stayed a WR. This should be fairly obvious if he's losing a position battle to a walk-on and a true freshman. The kid has good speed and is a solid football player. Cornerback takes other skills, though, that not every player possesses.
Syracuse Press Conference
Some highlights of Syracuse head football coach Greg Robinson's opening week press conference held today at Manley Field House
Syracuse Takes a look at Jake Locker
Syracuse's Andrew Robinson won't be the only rookie quarterback making his debut on Friday. Washington quarterback Jake Locker is a first-timer on the other side. Locker is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound sophomore from Ferndale, Wash. He was named the Huskies starter prior to spring practice.