Charles already mastering the mental rep

Dexter Charles was thinking about enrolling early to Washington, but it just didn't work out quite the way he had originally hoped. But the 6-foot-5, 270-pound offensive lineman from Stanwood has already made his presence felt at Montlake anyway, attending every practice so far this spring and following the OL like a one-man entourage.

While other offensive linemen have been out due to things like injuries and the flu, Charles has been there rain or shine, as constant as certain change in the weather around Husky Stadium.

This isn't just a case of Senioritis; Charles is carrying a full schedule of six classes at Stanwood, but planned it out so he can leave school early enough on Tuesdays and Thursdays to make the one-hour drive south to Seattle in time for practice.

"I knew I was going to be at every practice anyway, just to learn the offense," he told Tuesday. "I just couldn't play."

Those that know Charles aren't surprised with his diligence. At Washington's Signing Day press conference, Steve Sarkisian praised Dexter's work ethic, and also noted his ability to catalyze the other local signees and their love of all things purple and gold. "He's been a great Husky all the way, forming the camaraderie among the in-state players, and I think Dexter's got a very bright future in front of him," Sarkisian said at the time.

I doubt he envisioned Charles spending his spring constantly hanging around the program and the football offices, taking in as much teaching as the coaches are willing to dish out.

"I go to some meetings, and then if I can after practice I go up to the offices with (Offensive Line) coach (Dan) Cozzetto and watch film," Charles said.

And as much as he admits to enjoying his senior year at Stanwood, Charles has one foot firmly rooted at UW. His friendships with future teammates grew during the recruiting process, but really took hold during his December official visit when he was hosted by Greg Christine and Drew Schaefer.

"I fit in really well," he said. "There's a bunch of characters there, and I fit in. I bonded with Preach (Greg Christine) really well, I keep in contact with Preach a lot. And then there's Colin (Porter) and Ben Riva, Senio (Kelemete)…pretty much all of them. EK (Erik Kohler) too. They give me a hard time because they like me. It's like an initiation thing. But I feel like they respect me too, because they see my dedication."

And just like the players lifting and doing things to improve on their days off, Charles is also working hard away from Montlake, taking all his notes and putting them to practice with Stanwood Offensive Line Coach Randy Van Divier. Van Divier's name should ring a bell with UW fans; the Huskies were 19-5 in his two years and 24-straight games as a starter along the offensive line. As a senior captain, Van Divier helped lead the 1980 Huskies to the Pac-10 regular-season title, but eventually lost to Michigan in the Rose Bowl. He was drafted by the Baltimore Colts, and later played with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1982.

"Pass protection," Charles said simply when asked about the most important thing he's working on with Van Divier in preparation for his summer move to Montlake. "That's my biggest thing to work on, my pass sets."

Charles' immediate goal for the spring was to attend every practice, as well as the spring game. Not even a date with the dentist to remove his wisdom teeth Friday has deterred Dexter from his self-appointed rounds. And truthfully, it would be weird not to see him shadowing the offensive line, taking those mental reps and soaking it all in.

"I'm still going to try and get out there on Saturday," he said.

Dexter Charles profile Top Stories