Dawgbytes - 3/31

The talk is done. The words are laid to rest. The anticipation, anxiety and restlessness can be put away until the fall. It's time for Spring football at the University of Washington. Gone are the calcuttas, the subpoenas and the coaching carousel. Tyrone Willingham is the new sheriff in town.

"The best part of today is that we get to go back to coaching," Willingham said Thursday before putting his new team through the paces. "We've got an opportunity - not just at quarterback - for everybody on this football team, to earn a position. It doesn't matter what they've done up to today. It's what we do today. Hopefully that would be the case any spring - every spring - that you've got an opportunity to walk out there and prove your value."

So how does he go about the process of players earning their place? "I think you need to have some knowledge (beforehand), some information about your young men," said Willingham. "But at the same time you want them to have a clean slate."

Willingham admitted that he - as well as the rest of his staff, minus Chris Tormey and Randy Hart - would be in a learning mode Thursday, but stopped short of saying that there would be an equal amount during this initial coaching phase.

"This first time out, there will be a lot of new things for a lot of new people today, but I won't learn quite as much as they will," said Willingham. "I'm looking for attitude and intelligence. Good teams play the game smart, and hopefully we can do that from Day One. But it all starts with attitude, approach and effort."

Has the off-season shown Willingham anything about his inherited team as he ventures out to Husky Stadium for the first time? "I think they want to get going," he said. "I think they are competitors. When you have competitive people, they like to go, period. I would hope that if we were 10-0, 11-0, 12-0 they would be excited about coming back and getting after the game of football."

His demeanor is a stark contrast to the more casual nature of former Head Coach Keith Gilbertson. But Willingham wants it to be known that his methodical approach shouldn't be thrown under the umbrella of 'hardcore discipline'.

"I'm probably as far removed from hardcore discipline as somebody could be," he said, matter-of-factly. "I've always said that I'm flexible, which means doing what's right. If it's right to get up at 5:30 in the morning to train to do something, then I'll do it. If you can do that at 4:30 and do the other things you need to do, we'll do that. It's about doing what's right, and if that adds discipline to it, then we'll have a lot of discipline."

But in hearing Willingham talk, discipline takes a strong backseat to placing the team above self in everything they do. It's something Husky fans saw with Lorenzo Romar's basketball team, and Willingham would love to mirror Romar's success with his own.

"I would probably say that most successful teams or organizations do that (put team first)," said Willingham. "I would hope our football team does that. It (basketball) is a different game, but there are manners in which you can be totally unselfish about the game, and that's what we want to see."

Thursday's practice will be a two-hour session, a time-frame Willingham said will be consistent for the entire spring. The team will go two two non-contact practices before putting on pads Saturday.

Three new faces: Everybody knows about Johnny DuRocher moving from Oregon to Pierce College to Washington, but there are two more new faces that start spring under the new Willingham regime. Cornerback Desmond Davis, who went to Central Washington last season, and Receiver J.R. Wolfork, a UW trackster who transfered from Pacific Lutheran in 2004, have decided to come out for football.

"We were aware of him (Desmond) through his brother (Tyrone), who we recruited," said Willingham. "To do what he (J.R.) is doing, to try an extend himself in this matter, merited an opportunity to show what he could do."

Wolfork initially transfered to Washington as a long jump and triple jump specialist. His personal records in both are 23'10.25" and 48'6", respectively - both recorded while still at PLU. He was injured all last year, and competed in the long jump this past indoor season, with 23'7.5" his longest jump of the season.

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