Fall Practice: Day One

It was a day of conditioning and getting feet wet at Husky Stadium as the football guys were back out on the field for the first practice of the fall.

Hours before the opening practice of fall, new Husky head coach Keith Gilbertson told the media his planned schedule for his first practice as the main man at Montlake.

The first thing on the agenda, he said, was to put the team through conditioning tests. The second, the coach continued, was to teach the team all that's going to be different this season at practice.

Once the practice began, right at 3:15 p.m. as scheduled, both the team and the media knew Gilbertson was for real - at least with the first part of his earlier statement.

Three groups ran through 12 sets of 110-yard sprints. They were given 30 seconds to rest after each sprint.

The first group to go was the big guys - the linemen on both sides of the ball. Of the bunch, sophomore guard Robin Meadow and freshman center/guard Clay Walker impressed the most. In the 12th and final rep, the two stormed ahead of the pack in a race towards the finish. Walker, seeminly unfazed from the 11 reps he'd already run, blazed ahead to the delight of his fellow teammates.

The next group was the middle-size guys - the linebackers, the fullbacks, the tight ends, the quarterbacks. Out of this group, quarterback Cody Pickett impressed the most. Sporting a purple undershirt, the Heisman hopeful seemed to never slow down and was ahead of the pack with each rep

Isaiah Stanback, still wearing the No. 4 jersey, led the charge along with Charles Frederick in the third and final group.

After stretching, the offense and defense separated as they did last season. The defense went to the auxillary field while the offense remained at the main field.

It was hard to see exactly what was going on with the defense, who was lined up where, but the offense was right in front of us.

One thing that stuck out was large the number of bodies at receiver, where at one point the group had to split into two units. With only two returning scholarship players returning from last year - three if you count Justin Robbins, who's out for fall practices - the Huskies appear to want to get a look at as many as the incoming athletes as possible.

Anthony Russo, who was thought to get a look at tailback, was with the receivers. So was Charles Smith, a guy that could be used on defense.

Joining them were the well documented scholie guys, Reggie Williams and Charles Frederick, along a long list of freshman. That list included No. 85 Bobby Withorne, No. 88 Craig Chambers, No. 19 Quintin Daniels, No. 18 Corey Williams, No. 6 Jordan Slye, No. 21 Sonny Shackelford.

Walk-on Clayton Ramsey also ran with the pack.

Some "athletes' who did appear on the defensive side of the ball were Puyallup High product, Cody Ellis, as well as 6-foot-3 cornerback Clarence "Dre" Simpson, C.J. Wallace, Durrell Moss and Kamiak High's Derrick Bradley.

At tailback, there were no red jerseys for the first time in as long as we can remember, a refreshing sign. Scott Ballew, who opened eyes during Spring ball in April, joined Rich Alexis, Shelton Sampson, Chris Singleton, Kenny James (back from a knee injury in the spring), and freshman newcomer Louis Rankin.

Rankin, wearing the No. 9, is a blazer. All it took was a couple of runs for him to get the attention of several media members.

At center, the departure of Rob Kezirian and use of Clay Walker at guard left three guys - Dicks, sophomore Brad Vanneman and senior walk-on Mike Thompson.

Nebraska native Sean Douglas, who the team hopes can take over and do at least as well as Derek McLaughlin, a junior gone for two years on a Mormon mission, got some work in and looked good. He worked on his hang time, as did several other walk-on punters.

Carl Bonnell, the newest quarterback on the team, also took some snaps trying his "foot" in punting.

Taking turns snapping the ball were the three-some of Tim Galloway, Jason Benn and freshman Erik Berglund.

Six players went deep, trying their hand in punt returning. Charles Frederick, who's had the top duties returning punts since arriving on scene two years ago, led the pack. Joining him were Russo, Wallace, Shackelford, Simpson and Ballew.

Talk about a group of new faces... Athletes everywhere!

As far as the kicking duties go, the man replacing John Anderson had a nice first day. Standing only 5-foot-8, Gilbert, Ariz. native Michael Braunstein sent a charge into each ball he booted. Like Douglas, he practiced getting the ball up in the air quickly.

In one of the most impressive displays of the day, Braunstein stood at the sideline, around the 15-yard line, and tried to nail the left upright. He did so on consecutive attempts. (We know he was trying to hide a smile underneath that helmet). Nonetheless, it was pretty darn amazing to see.

The offensive line sported a group of experienced players on the first-team unit. Meadow appeared at weak guard, joining the following: WT Khalif Barnes, C Dan Dicks, SG Nick Newton, ST Todd Bachert. That's two seniors, two juniors, and a sophomore.

We'll have more on the defense in the coming days. Today it was difficult to get a grasp on the team since they spent most of practice at the far field, away from the press.

Dawgman.com Top Stories