A Fresh Start for Sims

In an ironic twist of fate, James Sims, the second recipient of the Curtis Williams endowed football scholarship, switched positions in the off-season, a move that Williams himself made. But instead of going from offense to defense like Curtis did, the Las Vegas native decided carrying the ball was where he could make a difference.

The 6-1, 207-pound Sims will give fullback a shot this spring, a move precipitated by a conversation Sims had with Husky head football coach Keith Gilbertson.

"I went to talk to Coach Gilby and he asked me how my season went," Sims told Dawgman.com. "I told him that I thought it went horribly. I didn't get to play as much as the year before and I felt like I needed a new move. So he came back and proposed the change to me. He wanted me to move to offense, and I was excited about that."

James' on-field time definitely went down from 2002 to 2003. He started 5 games as a redshirt-freshman at free safety, and had eight tackles in Washington's home victory over Wyoming. The only thing that hampered his 2002 campaign was an ankle injury that held him out of the season's final three games.

Last year was just the reverse. While he played in all 12 games, he only made one start, a disastrous team defensive performance against California. As well as it was coming together in James' second year in the program, it all seemed to fall apart just as quickly.

He needed a change, and Gilbertson was happy to oblige. "The funny thing is, I did play tailback in high school, but I played fullback in our all-star game when Steven Jackson (Oregon State) was the tailback and it worked out really well," said Sims. "And I also started out my freshman year at fullback."

Sims isn't where he needs to be as far as weight, but ten good pounds have been added since the switch in January, and he wants to try and get at least ten more good pounds before the season starts. "That's up from the season, where I usually played at 195, 196," James said of his current weight of 207 pounds. "I want to try to get up to 215, or more. More will be better. They want more support for Zach (Tuiasosopo) because he's the only scholarshipped fullback back there."

Gaining the extra weight hasn't affected Sims' speed, as he's been running consistent 4.5 40's, even dipping into the high 4.4's. Speed has always been one of James' best attributes, and he'll take that, as well as his defensive mindset, to the other side of the ball.

"I think, if anything, my defensive mentality will help, especially at fullback," James said. "You have to go in knowing you're going to hit somebody. I'm ready. Defense taught me that, so I'm looking forward to it."

Listening to Sims talk, the whole team appears to be ready to hit somebody after a rigorous off-season conditioning regimen. "Of course we didn't have as rocky a start as the way things went last year with everything that went on with the old coaching staff, so we're more relaxed, more focused and just worried about getting bigger, faster and stronger," he said. "And I think everyone is buying into that."

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