Practice Spotlight - Day One

SEATTLE - The sun looked down on the Washington football team Monday as over 70 players took part in the Huskies' first practice of Spring Football. It was an early-morning practice, as now all spring practices on the east field will start at 8 a.m. Here's a quick look at those that impressed, what was said, as well as other important news and notes.

The List:
Play of the Day: Matthew Lyons' pick of a Derrick Brown pass intended for James Johnson that was tipped by cornerback Ken Egu. It was the last play of the team period, and the competition was tied between the offense and defense, so the last play determined the winner. As soon as Lyons came up with the ball, the whole defense went nuts.

Unit of the Day: Tight Ends. Was going to include the receivers here too, but they did have a little bit of a mixed day catching the ball. The TE's, on the other hand, were extremely consistent all day long. Austin Seferian-Jenkins didn't skip a beat in his transition from basketball, and Michael Hartvigson sure looked to be every bit the improved player Steve Sarkisian noted Friday during his Spring Football press conference. Even Evan Hudson showed up with some good catches. There's no question this unit could end up being three-deep with solid contributions from all by the time they get to the first game of the season.

Players of the Day - On offense, it has to start with Keith Price. At 195 pounds now, he sure looked fit and even complained afterward of having to wear a knee brace because he was running very well and looked fast. Running backs Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey looked impressive, and the battle for Chris Polk's job looks like it could go all the way to UW's first game against San Diego State. New receiver Marvin Hall was involved early on and sure flashed his trademark speed. He took a couple of passes to the house, and he wasn't going to be caught from behind.

On defense, Andrew Hudson and Talia Crichton really showed up during the one-on-ones. Hudson is listed at 240 pounds, and Crichton is now a strong 252 pounds and looks to be as healthy as he's been in his UW career. If those two could supplement the damage Josh Shirley and Hauoli Jamora are expected to do this fall, they could really turn the DE group into something special.

Notable: Obviously this section is going to be a little longer today than normal, because there were a ton of observations to be made:
1. The players are now louder than the coaches - Gone are Martin and Cox, in are Heyward and Sirmon…and the decibels have gone WAY down. It's amazing to not be bombarded with shouting from defensive coaches nowadays. Sure you will hear the occasional shout from Johnny Nansen, but the new coaches really teach in a much different fashion, even if they might be teaching a lot of the same principles and ideas.
2. The new coaches have already seamlessly assimilated themselves into the fold - There wasn't one wasted minute of Monday's 2 hour-plus workout due to a new coach figuring out where he was supposed to be or what side of the play sheet the drill was on; you would have never figured out UW was breaking in five new assistant coaches. That's a credit to the organization of Sarkisian and his football staff to where everything is accounted for and it's all done in a way that allowed for even the first-day coaches to feel like they've been there for years.
3. Expect some growing pains for those switching positions - For Antavius Sims, Taz Stevenson, Evan Zeger and others, it's just going to take time for them to get comfortable making the transition to a position they didn't grow up playing. Sims looks every bit the amazing athlete he was billed as, yet it's clear that the running back position is not a natural one for him. When he was stripped of the ball by Sean Parker very late in a drill, it was close enough for RB Coach Joel Thomas to pele the football about 30 yards downfield in disgust. It's going to be all about fundamentals this spring for the 6-foot-2 junior college transfer.
4. It was easy to see the guys that had done work this off-season - James Atoe, if he's really at the 332 pounds as it's listed in the 2012 Spring Football roster, he's the best-looking 332-pounder I've spied on a football field. The sophomore offensive lineman looks to be a phenomenal shape for being a naturally big man to begin with. Same could be said for linebacker Scott Lawyer, who has put on at least 20 pounds and definitely belongs with the LB crowd now. When he first stepped on campus last fall, folks wondered if maybe his size was better suited for safety, but no longer. There are a lot of other players that certainly have transformed their bodies: Kasen Williams has put on 15 pounds and Keith Price has put on at least five good pounds; Derrick Brown looks rock-solid at 230 pounds; Jarett Finau is a man-child at 260 pounds, up at least 15-20 pounds from last summer; Nate Fellner his up 17 pounds from last year and definitely looks like he's put on size in his chest and upper body; left tackle Micah Hatchie is up 15 pounds and also looks to be in great shape; Josh Perkins has put on 15 pounds; Marcus Peters is up 10 pounds to 195 right now; Colin Porter is down over 20 pounds to 299, but that could have as much to do with not being able to lift because of shoulder surgery; RS frosh safety James Sample is up 10 pounds; Drew Schaefer is now at 287 pounds, down 14 pounds from last year; Danny Shelton is down 10 pounds to a svelte 323; John Timu has added over 15 pounds from the 220 he played at last year and he's moving very well so far in camp; fellow LB Thomas Tutogi is up from 244 to 255 pounds this spring, and he looks rock-solid; Evan Zeger put the off-season to good use, gaining 11 pounds to push up to 221.
5. They are already figuring out returners - Don't expect much from the walk-on kickers this spring; both Jacob Dunn and Mihai Ion missed badly from short range in an abbreviated special teams segment. But there could be plenty to talk about with UW's return units, ones chock full of speed and elusiveness. Just checking out the initial roll call, here's who we saw taking punts and kickoffs: (PUNTS) - Marvin Hall, Greg Ducre, Jamaal Jones, Anthony Gobern, Kasen Williams; (KICKOFFS) - Antavius Sims, Desmond Trufant, Marcus Peters, Bishop Sankey

Quotable: Here's conversations with Drew Schaefer, Jesse Callier, Kasen Williams and Keith Price after Monday's practice.

Drew Schaefer
Jesse Callier
Kasen Williams
Keith Price

Recruits/Guests in the House - It looked as if Danny Shelton's younger brother Kevin showed up to watch big brother play a little bit; also see were former UW QB Damon Huard, who is now doing color commentary with Bob Rondeau for the games, and also a scout for the San Diego Chargers was there.

Redshirts - Only three today - James Sample, Travis Feeney and Cooper Pelluer. Didn't stop them from getting work in, however. Feeney had a pick earlier in practice and should have had another during the final TEAM period when he was in perfect position to snag a Derrick Brown pass intended for DiAndre Campbell. Sample had the same thing happen when Keith Price threw it right to him instead of Michael Hartvigson. When the ball hit the turf, you could feel the defense's frustration on that play. Top Stories