Slye, not Shy

Nothing says more about a player than how they react when adversity strikes. Remember what Nate Robinson said when he was first inserted into the UW/Cal game and immediately got burned for a touchdown? He told reporters after the game that 'it'd never happen again.' Guys as confident and self-assured as Nate-Rob don't along too often, but the Huskies may have been lucky enough to grab another in the 2002 recruiting class.

His name is Jordan Slye.

Slye, a former quarterback at Seattle's Franklin High, was recruited by Rick Neuheisel to Washington as an "athlete". They told him that he had the potential to play on either side of the ball once he came to Montlake. Already, the title of "athlete" has come into play.

Just last week, after a full season of playing safety, the tall and lanky Slye was moved to receiver to shore up the injury-depleted position. Coming into spring ball, the Huskies knew they were already short number-wise at receiver.

With Reggie Williams and Charles Frederick in the fold, the health of Justin Robbins - after two missed seasons due to knee injuries - was a primary concern. Robbins lasted less than a week, suffering a minor injury to his knee that ultimately cost him the rest of the spring.

That forced Neuheisel's hand. Going a week with only two receivers on scholarship and seeing a pressing need to add depth there, he moved Slye to the other side of the field.

"At safety I got to bring it, now I've got to watch out for the hits," said Slye after Monday's practice, unable to keep the smile off his face.

The second-year freshman admits that he was surprised by the move, but says he likes it.

"Any chance you can get to get back into the old high school ways by touching the ball and getting the rock in your hands, I think that is good," he said.

The position change doesn't seem to have affected his confidence or his outlook whatsoever.

"To me it doesn't matter as long as I can get on the field and play," he said. "I like playing wherever the team needs me and wherever is going to help us get back to the Rose Bowl."

Whether that's laying hits at safety or going over the middle for the high pass at receiver, Slye is just happy to be utilized.

In his two practices at the new position, he's separated himself from the seven walk-ons with his superior size and speed. His hands, always a pre-requisite to be a receiver, have shown to reliable as can be.

Does work still need to be done? Slye says that's a silly question.

"I think when you switch positions at a collegiate level like the Pac-10, I think it'd be hard for anybody to just switch positions," he said. "I think it's going to take a lot of work and practice for me to get to the level I want to be at it."

The skills needed at receiver are different than those required at safety, and Slye already knows where he needs to improve.

"Route adjustments, techniques and taking advantage when I have the defensive back beat," he said.

Those are all points that Bobby Kennedy, his new position coach, has been trying to instill in Slye's first days as a wideout.

That isn't to say that Kennedy has been the only person helping Slye make the transition.

"For me it's like I have three coaches, not just one," said Slye. "I have Coach Kennedy, but also Reggie and E.T. to help me out on certain routes and with my stance. I think they've been the biggest help for me in the position switch."

Will Slye stick at receiver once the incoming class of freshmen receivers joins the rest of the team in August? It's still too early too tell.

But no matter what transpires between now and fall, there's no doubting Slye's demeanor and confidence on the field. As it stands now he's a receiver, and he's not complaining.

"Right now, talking with the coaches, it seems that I'm staying at receiver," said Slye, "And I'm more than happy to stay."

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