Pettas inherits deepest position on team

Graduate Assistant John Pettas is in his first season with the Washington Huskies football program, and he's walked into a virtual gold mine.

With perhaps the deepest receiving corps in a decade, Washington's newest offensive assistant is glowing in his assessment of his group of players.

"I'm really pleased with this group," said Pettas after practice this afternoon.

Senior Todd Elstrom was the first name that popped into his head. "He's a really good football player. He knows the offense inside and out. He knows where to go and how to get there. He's really showing signs of what we expect from him."

Seattle's Paul Arnold also earned praise from Pettas. "He's a guy that we moved in the spring. He started off a little rusty and kind of looking like a converted tailback, but he's come a long ways. He's really starting to look like a great receiver now. He's smooth in his route, coming out of breaks, and coming back to the football instead of waiting for it. Those things are really impressing me."

One thing that really caught Pettas off guard was Arnold's speed. "It's really starting to show, and that's what we were hoping from him. I see him as a very big playmaker for us down the road," said Pettas.

At 6-1 204 pounds, Arnold benches over 300 pounds and runs a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. He's a weapon who is beginning to blossom under Pettas' tutelage.

"We are going to look at a lot of different ways to get him the ball eventually. We need to get him the ball in space," he said of Arnold.

Washington has not traditionally been a team that runs quick screens but Pettas hopes to change that because of Arnold and the threat he poses for defenses that are over aggressive.

"I have that in my background, so my thought is to get him the ball on quick screens. Now he can make people miss or break tackles. We can definitely have a package where he can be involved and do some things," said Pettas.

The other veteran receiver that is intriguing to the former ASU offensive coordinator is Wilbur Hooks, Jr. Hooks is a sprinter that has added muscle to his frame and has remained healthy throughout fall camp and is now in the top rotation for receivers.

"Hooks is another real fast guy and gives us another compliment at wide receiver," Pettas said. "He and Reggie (Williams) really compliment one another. Reggie is big and strong while Wilbur is quick and fast and gets behind the secondary if they blink," said Pettas.

He has not had a good look at sophomore Justin Robbins yet, as he pulled a hamstring early in Olympia and has been sidelined since. He is expected back very soon and Pettas hopes to see more of number 80. "What I saw I was very impressed with," Pettas said. "He's a real smart guy with experience. He knows what to do and if we can get him to do it a little sharper when he gets back, we'll be just fine."

"We'll be five to six receivers deep at that time. If we can keep them all healthy and find roles for them, we'll be really good."

The other veteran that's been on the shelf at times is senior Patrick Reddick, who banged his knee up during two a days. "We're slowing down his practice reps so we don't pound on him. We'll nurse him back. He's another guy that has the ability to go deep and make some big plays once he catches the ball," said Pettas.

When he was at Arizona State, Pettas had a group of talented receivers that included Lenzie Jackson, Kenny Mitchell, and Craig Spann. He believes this Washington group is better. "There is more speed than I saw down there. These guys have more size and their just faster," said Pettas.

"We've got a lot of depth. That will allow us to keep fresh during the course of a game and be able to get to the fourth quarter with the same explosiveness as we started with."

Freshman Reggie Williams has been one of the stars of this fall camp and has sealed his fate as being in the top rotation of receivers. Still, he's a true freshman. Will it make Pettas nervous to put his young pupil in at crunch time against the likes of Michigan and Miami?

Pettas waited about one nanosecond before answering.

"No. Not him," he said with a laugh. "He's really an intelligent and mature kid and I don't think he'll miss a beat. He'll be capable of going right in there. In this conference everyone plays a true freshman down the line. We've all done it."

"When they are good enough, you don't hold back and you turn them loose." Top Stories