Hello Dawg fans. Spring is over, and although it didn't end with much fanfare, this team looks ready to unite around their new coaching staff. I'd be surprised if less than 95% of the kids don't stick around this summer. And now, onto your letters . . . .

1) From Bruce Legas in AK:
Dear coach Baird:
With some of the players departing this spring from the Dub program what sort of extra opportunities is this going to create for Husky recruiting this next season? How is the upcoming class rated in the State of Washington?

A: The departure of players this spring merely opens up scholarship numbers for next year's signing class. Coach Willingham could reward some walk-ons but I think he will probably try to take a max class of 25 come February 2006. I don't believe the departures will create any opportunities for this coming season. By everything I have heard this is a much better crop in state than last year. With the exception of about 6 or 7 kids there were not a lot of true division one prospects last year. This is good for the Huskies because they really need players all across the board. I know there are a couple of good quarterbacks (Locker!) and a lot more linemen which has always been the case in-state. The coaches are really encompassing the state so every rock will be turned over finding the in-state gems. I would guess 10-12 prospects for sure. Thanks for writing.
2) From Frank:
Dear coach Baird:
Who do you believe should be the quarterback for the Huskies in 2005? And what does he bring to the table that the other's don't?

A: Right now I'm not sure. I think Stanback had a decent spring and certainly brings great athleticism to the table. He seems to be taking well to the coaching change and should enter the fall as one of the favorites. Johnny DuRocher got better with time and shows the best pocket presence but is still trying to fit in, and that is understandable because he is the new kid on the block. Bonnell showed so great things but likewise is just adapting to the position coaching change and Paus is still one of the real leaders on the team so he keeps himself in the hunt because of that. I think all four will be staying in town and working hard to get in synch with the receivers, who I believe really need to step up if the Huskies are going to be any good at all. Wide receiver coach Eric Yarber is really good and I think he will sort out that mess by the start of the season. Everyone was so quick last year to blame everything on the quarterback but the receivers were as much to blame. Just my opinion, Frank, but I think Stanback is the favorite to win the spot.
3) From Bill Leggett:
Dear coach Baird:
Louis Rankin seems like he had the best spring of all the backs. Can you tell us a bit about him? What type of back is he?

A: I too was really impressed with Louis Rankin this spring and can tell you he was really good coming in out of high school from Lincoln High in Stockton California where he scored 41 touchdowns in his senior year alone. Now, I don't care where you play that's a lot of scores for one guy in one season. He was actually first team all state in California so this kid knows how to run. Chuck Heater (current RC at Florida for Urban Myer) really did his homework on this guy and is the reason why he is at Washington. Thanks Chuck! Rankin's freshman year he was a little too lean and ran with a little too much juke and dodging. He is now cutting better, getting his shoulders down and has a speed burst that only Shelton Sampson of the other backs has. I would be real surprised if he doesn't emerge as the best of the bunch of a really good crop of running backs. He has gotten bigger and stronger and now looks ready to really compete for the job. He has great feet and pretty good vision now that he has adapted to the speed of college football. I think he will be a star by his senior year.
4) From Dave in Spanaway:
Dear coach Baird:
How is coach Jim Lambright doing? I know he had a cancer scare not long ago, but reports have placed him in Husky Stadium as a frequent visitor. Is Lambo all recovered now? God bless him, and you.

A: Nice of you to ask about Coach Lambright who is starting to really come around following his bout with bladder cancer. He is fully recovered and has gained his weight back and has never lost his love for the program. He will always be a great Husky and is a real fan of Coach Willingham and his system of football. He lives up in the mountains going up to Stevens Pass out of Goldbar and is actively working on his 20 acres on a daily basis. He does a number of speaking engagements and is very supportive of the current administration and coaching staff. He really is impressed with Kent Baer as the defensive coordinator and really thinks the defense will carry the team come fall. Typical Lambo. Nice of you to be so kind to think about him.
5) From Tom Belser:
Dear coach Baird:
What are the biggest needs in recruiting, based on what you see on the current roster? And do you expect a lot of attrition, given a new coach and staff this year? Thanks Coach.

A: I think the needs are evenly distributed across the board and that Coach Willingham will bring a full and balanced class. Off the top of my head I think they really need a couple of big time receivers and a couple of big and fast tight ends. I also think the Mayes kids from Odea would be an excellent fit and could jump into the depth immediately in two years. They also always need to add a quarterback and from watching him play I would say the kid from Ferndale, Jake Locker, would fit nicely. Attrition is one of the things that happens in every program particularly when there is a coaching change. This is a very disciplined system and many of the kids recruited over the past 5 years might have trouble adapting. After this initial wave of departures I think you will find that kids recruited by Willingham will have the necessary character perseverance to stick it out and stay with the program. He is very clear about doing things the right way and those who don't will know where the door is quickly. Over the long run I really believe his approach is the correct one and there is a right way to do things. columnist and KJR 950 Sports Radio personality, Dick Baird.
Dick Baird was an Assistant Coach (Linebackers) and Recruiting Coordinator at the UW from 1985-1998. He has joined the staff as a featured columnist for both the web site and Sports Washington magazine. In addition to his regular editorial columns, Coach Baird will try to provide some of his unique perspective by answering a few of your selected questions online. If you would like to send in your questions, please CLICK HERE.

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