Isaiah Stanback: A pup no more

A season ago Isaiah Stanback came to Washington as the jewel of the 2002 recruiting class. After spending a season on the scout team, he hopes this is the year where the pieces start to come together.

Isaiah Stanback still throws the occasional high floater. He still makes the wrong reads at times. But as a redshirt freshman in his second fall camp with the Huskies, these mistakes are happening less frequently with each passing practice.

With a year under his belt, the speedy quarterback from Garfield High in Seattle feels more at ease than he did a year ago at this time, for several reasons.

Probably most importantly, he knows much more. Thanks to the coaching of quarterback coach Steve Axman last year and the newly hired John Pettas, Stanback's knowledge of the game has improved immensely.

"Last year I was in the process of learning and trying to play catchup,"said the quarterback. "I'm still trying to play some catchup in some aspects, but for the most part I've got the plays down now. I know what the receivers are doing and what my responsibilities are, so it's a lot easier than it was last year."

Stanback also feels like he belongs now, and as a result, his confidence has soared. His passes come out of his hand with more zip than before. They are more precise, finding the receivers hands more often.

In 2002, that wasn't always the case.

"Last year my confidence level wasn't up because I put so much pressure on myself," said Stanback. "I'm my own worst critic.

"This year I'm just trying to be a lot more relaxed. My throwing has got a lot better. Just knowing the plays without having to think twice about them and knowing how deep my receivers are, that stuff is key. Last year I was doing a lot of guessing."

Another change is the fact that Stanback is finally learning the Husky offense, which wasn't the case much of last season when he was so often in charge of leading the scout team offense. There, he spent most of his time learning and running the offenses of the Huskies' opponents, preparing the defense for what lies ahead in the coming weeks.

Seeing an opportunity to become further acquainted with Washington's playbook this fall, it brings a smile to No. 4's face.

After all, the competition for the back-up quarterback spot is tight. Stanback says he doesn't even think about the competition with third-year quarterback Casey Paus and freshman newcomer Carl Bonnell. Instead, he prefers to focus on what he can do to improve from his redshirt season.

"Last year around this time I was so used to running after doing it all through high school," said Stanback. "I was used to throwing on the run and just running period. This year I'm trying to sit in the pocket a lot more and become more comfortable in there.

"I still find myself getting out of there every now and then but it's going to take a while for me to just sit in there all the time."

Through one week of camp, the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder is happy with the way things are going. Only one year removed from nervously walking on the Husky practice field as a 17-year-old freshman, Stanback feels light-years ahead of where he was then.

And the prospect of possibly traveling with the team this season is one that he can't get out of his dreadlock-draped head.

"The only game I got to travel to last year was the Sun Bowl. That was a good experience getting to see how everything works when you are away from Seattle," the quarterback said.

"Going to the Sun Bowl, even though we lost, it was a good experience just to see how everything operated. This year, I think it would be good preparation mentally for next year, whether I'm starting or not."

Still only 18-years-old (his birthday is August 16), the improvement is just beginning for Isaiah Stanback. Top Stories