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Spring Football - Day 1 Practice Wrap Up

Washington started their spring practices on Monday morning. Here's a look at what happened as well as who stood out...

It's always a mixed bag from a weather standpoint on the first day of spring football for the Washington football program and this year was no different.

There was sunshine, wind, rain and temperatures in the mid-40s, but that didn't detract from the work accomplished on the east practice field.

Starting quarterback Jake Browning, who is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, only took snaps during warm-ups and during the install periods, so his first-team reps fell to K.J. Carta-Samuels and Daniel Bridge-Gadd.

Of the two, Bridge-Gadd appeared to have the better day.

He hit wideout Dante Pettis down the right side for a long-gainer and he also rolled to his right and found freshman Ty Jones for a good chunk of yardage on the sidelines.

For his part, Jones definitely showed up looking ready to see snaps this fall.

He looks to have put on 15 pounds from last summer and he used his body well to shield defenders from the ball.

Jones' new position coach, Matt Lubick, got his first chance to work with the receivers on Monday and his boss, Chris Petersen, said it was good to have him in the fold.

"He knows football inside and out," Petersen said. "He’s coached the wide receivers for a long time. His group has always played really well. Everyone’s got their unique style and it’s different. That’s what I like about when you do change coaches. It’s something new. Change is good. Change is growth."

Another receiver who seemed to take a step in the right direction was K.J. Young. After spending all of last season buried in the depth, Young showed good hands, making a one-handed grab in traffic while also getting open on a regular basis vs. the second team defense.

Along the offensive line, Trey Adams, sporting a new short hairdo, manned his usual spot at left tackle while Kaleb McGary held down right tackle.

Coleman Shelton was in the pivot with sophomore Nick Harris returning at right guard.

A battle will be waged all throughout the spring and summer to see who will start at left guard, but on Monday, when the first team took the field, senior Andrew Kirkland was at the position.

When the second-team offense was in, Jared Hilbers (LT), Henry Roberts (LG), Matt James (C), Jesse Sosebee (RG) and Devin Burleson (RT) were the players handling things along the offensive line.

Luke Wattenberg, who arrived weighing in at just barely 250 pounds last summer, looks good after adding 40 pounds back to his frame following an illness. 

He appears ready to push for playing time, but that will only happen if he impresses new offensive line coach Scott Huff.

"Coach Huff was one of the best linemen that I’ve ever been around, when I got to coach him as the OC (offensive coordinator)," Petersen noted. "He knows how to play it. I’ve been around him for a long time as a coach, so he knows how to coach it, so that’s what he brings and then every coach has their unique style.

"That’s what we tell our guys – one of our coaches moves on, it really can be a good thing, because this coach will bring some new tools for you."

On defense, one of the surprises was seeing Azeem Victor doing everything during team drills and position specific drills.

Victor still looks on the "skinny" side although he still weighs close to 230 pounds. 

The defense forced one turnover, a strip of Bridge-Gadd that was recovered by Bryce Sterk.

Vita Vea is definitely a load in the middle and he looks poised to have a big junior season. 

Greg Gaines was on the sidelines with his left arm in a sling, so most of the reps went to Ricky McCoy and John Clark. It was impossible to tell how well each one did since most of their work was on the far side and they were not in pads, but both got a lot of work with the first and second team at nose tackle.

In the secondary, the Huskies are looking for two new corners with the graduation of Kevin King and Sidney Jones, who left for the NFL after his junior season, and the two corners who lined up with the starters were Byron Murphy and Jordan Miller.

Miller blanketed Pettis on several reps and let the senior wideout know about it while Murphy had a solid practice as well.

Converted running back Jomon Dotson worked with the second and third team secondaries and looked the part although Pettis did make his one long catch with Dotson in coverage.

JoJo McIntosh looks almost like a linebacker. He carries his 215 pounds very well and he's going to be a real enforcer in the deep patrol this fall while Ezekiel Turner looks like he's ready to take the next step as well.

One of the most intriguing things we saw on the first day of spring football was the apparent move of Isaiah Gilchrist to safety with the second unit.

Gilchrist was a corner coming out of high school, but he's a solid 200 pounds now and he looks like a perfect fit as a cover safety although he played a lot of free safety alongside Trevor Walker with the second team.

Washington returns to the field on Wednesday for their second workout of the spring.

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Out: DL Greg Gaines (arm/shoulder); TE Mike Neal (leg); RB Lavon Coleman; LB Connor O'Brien (knee/leg); DB Brandon Lewis; QB Tony Rodriguez; LB DJ Beavers.

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Visitors: The only 2017 signee on hand for the practice, aside from Jones and P Joel Whitford who were practicing, was Eastside Catholic TE Hunter Bryant. Former Huskies Elijah Qualls and Travis Feeney were both along the sidelines watching things as well as former QB Tim Cowan.


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