Ax excited to be back

Three years ago, Steve Axman was the one with the lofty titles and John Pettas was the one hired by the University of Washington as a graduate assistant, albeit one with an immpecable resume. Now, it's Axman who will be taking his cue from Pettas as 'Ax' was named as the Huskies' new receivers coach Monday.

"Basically I think it's an excellent fit for me and my wife (Marie)," Steve told Monday after announced his hiring. "I'm really have a great feeling about coming back. I'm very excited and it was a great four years and I hope to have another great run."

Axman is expected to fly in Tuesday and go right to work. "I think one of the reasons he was interested in me is that I'm familiar with the offense. I'm sure there were some changes made last year with Coach Pettas, but having worked with John I know we think a lot alike. I'm just anxious to come back to an offense I'm extremely familiar with and we can go from there."

Steve left Washington after four years with the Huskies' staff to pursue an opportunity with UCLA as their Offensive Coordinator. He left that position recently for what has been termed 'philosophical differences' with new head coach Karl Dorrell. "When I left Washington to take the opportunity at UCLA, I must admit that I didn't have a great feeling about leaving, because we had such a great feeling for Seattle and the University of Washington so much," said Axman.

"And with Keith Gilbertson, we enjoyed working together and we were productive working together and to be able to come back is very exciting for us. My daughter is a junior at the UW and my wife was a principal for four years so she's looking forward to that. She wasn't able to find employment down in Southern California, so she's excited about being a principal again.

"I've got a lot of friends on the staff. Charlie Dickey played for me as a guard at the University of Arizona and was my line coach at Northern Arizona. Scott Pelluer was my defensive coordinator at Northern Arizona. Just so many positive things."

Axman feels that having Pettas as Washington's offensive coordinator is another positive for him. "I had the good fortune of working with John Pettas for a year," he said. "We really had a tremendous year. We think an awful lot alike, so it's going to be a lot of fun working with him again.

Things didn't work out for me here at UCLA as a coordinator, so being able to have the opportuity to come back to Washington and coach for the Huskies is really exciting for both my wife and I."

Any thought of tackling a different position or switching positions with another coach, based on his previous experience at Montlake? "I'm just going to be the receivers coach," said Ax. "That's enough," he added with a chuckle.

Steve hasn't had too much time to familiarize himself with those coaches on Washington's staff, but it shouldn't take him much time. "I think there's an excellent balance of people on the staff," he said. "I was taught by Larry Smith at Arizona, and I'm a great believer in having a good combination of age and experience on your staff, but also having some young lions there too, and I think there's an excellent balance of that. I'm really excited to be working with the group that I'm going to be working with."

He also doesn't know a heck of a lot about the players that will be under his charge, but he'll soon find out that they are a talented group, but also a very young group.

"That will be a fun challenge for me," he said. "I've always thought of myself as a 'technique' coach, and technique coaches always have the most success with younger players in my opinion, so that will be an exciting challenge for me."

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