Handy makes good

It was, as Chris Handy says, five seconds of his life he'd love to have back, but it was probably closer to ten. As a starting cornerback for the Nevada Wolf Pack, the 5-10, 190-pound Handy was getting ready to play against Hawaii. But he would never see the field for that game, or any others for Nevada. The next field he saw was Husky Stadium, one he was quite familiar with.

Chris played in all 12 games and started in seven in 2002 as a true freshman at Nevada, recording 41 tackles with 29 solos. In 2003 he started seven games and played in nine as a sophomore, earning all-WAC honors, and even had a pick-six against the Huskies in the Packs' upset in Seattle.

But for Handy, an assault charge stemming from a fight the previous summer derailed any hopes and dreams of finishing school in Reno as one of the best corners to have ever played for the Wolf Pack. But it didn't diminish his desire to play somewhere. Anywhere. And that's when an old friend came by.

"It was a situation where there's five seconds of my life that I would like to have back, but I know it's not going to affect what I'm doing at Washington," Handy told Dawgman.com on Wednesday after sending in his letter of intent to attend Washington. "I wasn't in my right state of mind. I know I'm a better person than that and it won't happen again."

That's when Chris Tormey popped back into Handy's life. "I liked the coaches, Coach Tormey," Handy said when asked about the reasons for choosing the Wolf Pack over offers from schools like Boise State, Colorado State and Fresno State out of Arcadia High School in Arcadia, California. "And I knew some people up there, so that it more comfortable for me."

Handy contacted Tormey when he was dismissed from the team near the end of the 2003 season. "He always told me that if it worked out, he would love to have me come and play at Washington," Chris said.

It did work out, but not without a few pieces falling into place. His assault charge was dropped down to a misdemeanor after it couldn't be proved he kicked a person during a fight. His penence paid, Handy had his biggest obstacle still in front of him - new Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham.

"He just talked to me about his expectations for his players and for the team," Handy said of his time with Willingham during his official visit to Washington. "He wants to win, that's the biggest thing."

And when an offer was extended, it didn't take long for Handy to deliberate. "It was awesome, I loved the city," he said of his visit. "The coaches were great too. I committed right after my talk with Coach Willingham."

And a new chapter was started. "They are excited," Handy said when asked about his parents' reaction to him being a Husky. "They thank the lord that I got another chance to play football and get my education, especially at a bigger school."

While Chris has come out of his scrape with the law with a new-found perspective, he hasn't lost the swagger and braggadocio that made him a top corner at Nevada. When he came on his official trip, he paid a visit to the end zone he found a year and a half earlier.

"It all came back," he said. "I remember getting an interception and scoring. I just saw Cody (Pickett) trying to throw a screen and we were in a cover-2. I just followed the outside guy and picked it off. I remember Cody trying to catch me.

"I remember playing against Reggie Williams. That was fun."

He also admits that he made sure all his future teammates knew about his accomplishment.

So what should Washington fans expect from Handy this fall? "I think my strengths are press coverage and tackling," he said. "I'm just a 'fly-around' guy on film, more of a physical corner."

Handy has two years of eligibility remaining after spending this past year at Pasadena (Calif.) City College. He could be in Seattle as early as the first of April, depending on his transfer. "I'm hoping to get there so I can play spring ball," he said.

And leave the memory of those five - or ten - seconds in Reno, where they belong.

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