Fall Camp: Friday Update

SEATTLE - It’s been a long four days, a lot of grinding and a lot of teaching by the new Washington coaching staff. Saturday they will show off in front of the fans what they’ve gotten accomplished these first five days - so it makes sense to step back and give folks a bit of a primer as to what to expect to see at Husky Stadium.

QUARTERBACK - This is been a battle where, at least for the first week, all the combatants have been given as many equal reps as possible, and all of them - save K.J. Carta-Samuels - have had plenty of opportunities to show what they can do with the first team. So far, there isn’t much separating Cyler Miles, Jeff Lindquist, and Troy Williams - other than the fact that Miles isn’t in the mix to be the starting quarterback August 30th at Hawaii. Miles still has that funky, over-the-top delivery, but he’s accurate that way. Williams has a cannon for an arm and is the most aggressive passer downfield for UW. Lindquist has the dual-threat capability you love in QB’s that run the spread attack, and Carta-Samuels flashes a big gun for an arm and hasn’t shied away from getting right in the mix. Simply put, there’s still all to play for.

RUNNING BACK - Another great battle, with four very worthy players that will all certainly get a chance to shine this fall. In my opinion, Lavon Coleman has distinguished himself as the player that most physically resembles Bishop Sankey in the way he runs - tough in-between the tackles but fast enough to bounce the play outside when needed. Dwayne Washington is the home-run threat we all know he can be, and displayed it Thursday with an 85-yard untouched burst through the middle of the defense. Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier are the wizened heads of the group, but they haven’t slowed an ounce and are giving the youngsters all they can handle. Shaq Thompson is a real X factor here, and the last two practices has been getting some reps offensively.

TIGHT END - With Joshua Perkins and Michael Hartvigson out the last day or so, it's allowed some of the younger guys to get in the mix the last couple practices. Derrick Brown really showed up Thursday, making some nice catches downfield. Frosh Drew Sample also made a couple of nice catches in traffic and earned praise from TE Coach Jordan Paopao. Darrell Daniels is still very much in the discussion because of his blocking abilities and the downfield threat he poses. David Ajamu has also gotten meaningful reps and is definitely progressing as the learning curve is ramped up.

RECEIVER - Of course the biggest narrative here is Kasen Williams’ recovery. He told me Thursday he will absolutely be 100 percent by Hawaii, but he’s absolutely not 100 percent right now. But he’s not that far off. He’s made some very good moves against Marcus Peters, Jermaine Kelly and Travell Dixon, and he’s let them know about it too. DiAndre Campbell continues to plug away, another veteran big man presence in the group that needs it. The trio of Jaydon Mickens, John Ross, and Marvin Hall - The Legion of Zoom - are veterans now, and they are giving veteran-type practice performances. Kendyl Taylor is going to be an X Factor here, because he’s so versatile. He can slot inside, go out wide, even act as a running back if he has to; he did it before as a true frosh. Dante Pettis plays bigger than his size and has had a couple big plays. Brayden Lenius is a player you can’t ignore just on size alone. I expect his role to continue to grow as camp moves on.

OFFENSIVE LINE - The first team offensive line started camp, from left to right - Jake Eldrenkamp, Sifa Tufunga, Mike Criste, James Atoe, and Ben Riva - as you would have expected leaving spring ball. But things have changed a bit. Micah Hatchie and Dexter Charles, both out spring rehabbing injuries, practiced all day with the first team Thursday, and Colin Tanigawa did the same at center. Hatchie and Charles moving back into starting positions isn’t too surprising, but the battle has definitely been joined at center. Tanigawa definitely brings toughness and grit to the position, as well as football IQ. The number two line, from left to right, is now Eldrenkamp, Tufunga, Criste, Shane Brostek, and junior walk-on Ross Dolbec. The third group is Coleman Shelton, Cory Fuavai, Dane Crane, Michael Kneip, and Andrew Kirkland. We’ll see if there’s any more movement in the line next week before they finally move from having a ‘seating chart’ to an actual ‘depth chart’.

DEFENSIVE LINE - This group has been a little steadier. With the departures of Josh Shirley and Marcus Farria, roles have been a little quicker to be defined because of reduced numbers. Danny Shelton and Evan Hudson continue to patrol the interior, while Andrew Hudson and Hauoli Kikaha have been starting at ends. True frosh Will Dissly has apparently impressed the coaches enough to get a shot working with the twos outside with converted fullback Psalm Wooching. Drew Schultz and Tani Tupou have been playing inside, but Greg Gaines and Damion Turpin have also been rotating in there, as well as the interior combo of Vita Vea and Kaleb McGary. The coaches have also been working frosh Jaylen Johnson and Shane Bowman as a rush end combo. Joe Mathis, Jarett Finau and Elijah Qualls have been slowed a bit, but I expect to see their participation increase in short order.

LINEBACKER - With the emergence of the BUCK position, Hauoli Kikaha, Cory Littleton and Jaylen Johnson could very well be covering flats and doing some other linebacker duties, depending on the scheme and responsibilities called by DC Pete Kwiatkowski. But as far as the actual LB rotations, things look well set. John Timu anchors the middle of the first group, surrounded by Shaq Thompson and Travis Feeney. This group is simply having a great camp so far, very dominant performances. The second line has Azeem Victor manning the middle, flanked by Littleton and Keishawn Bierria. Again, really solid performances by all the players in that group. True frosh Jake Wambaugh looks quality at middle linebacker, and redshirt frosh Sean Constantine and Connor O’Brien were playing alongside him. O’Brien has shown a knack for getting his hands on the football, snagging a great pick away from David Ajamu Thursday. It looked like he also had an interception Wednesday, but the ball was ruled incomplete.

SAFETY - Nothing changed much from spring; Brandon Beaver and Trevor Walker emerged the first week as the clear number-one choice for DB Coach Jimmy Lake. Beaver has been a ballhawk extraordinaire. If he hasn’t had at least one pick per practice, he’s had a turnover of some sort or passes defensed. He’s been a bright spot. Walker has had a quieter, steadier camp. He’s become a solid contributor despite being only a true sophomore. The second group is Kevin King and true frosh Budda Baker. King continues to ramp up his play after resting his shoulder in spring. No one should be surprised at Baker’s inclusion here; we knew he’d make his presence felt at camp sooner, rather than later. He’s not the biggest guy out there, but he just makes plays. Brian Clay anchors the third group with some veteran presence, typically playing alongside another true frosh - Jojo McIntosh. McIntosh is another youngster that has shown himself off as a ballhawk.

CORNERBACK - Marcus Peters has one of the positions on lock-down - that much is clear. Jermaine Kelly has started to distance himself a bit from Travell Dixon, who is manning the twos with frosh Naijiel Hale. Hale isn’t backing down from anyone, even his own teammates on defense. He just might be ready to give Hawaii a go a few weeks from now. Darren Gardenhire has shown glimpses in the action that he’s seen, and Sidney Jones had a phenomenal Wednesday workout - the true frosh had a one-handed pick high in the air, as well as a forced turnover recovered by Greg Gaines. There’s no doubt this frosh group is stacked to the nines with ability. Brandon Lewis and Aaron Chapman have not been involved in the last couple practices, not sure when their return is expected.

SPECIAL TEAMS - Not too much going on here yet, but we have seen some work. I think the coaches are going to have a tough time picking between Cameron Van Winkle and Tristan Vizcaino when it comes to the starting placekicker. It’s clear Van Winkle isn’t about to let the true frosh come in and take his spot. Korey Durkee is the number one holder, but Jaydon Mickens continues to get looks there. There really hasn’t been any punting yet, so we don’t know if Durkee is the one expected to take on that job, or if Vizcaino will be asked to do it. As far as the return game, haven’t seen anything as far as kick return goes, but Marvin Hall and Kasen Williams were the main players used when they worked on punt return.

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