Eriks ready to 'tackle' newest challenge

At 6-2 and 219 pounds, Ty Eriks has the size and speed to play numerous positions. When he was recruited out of O'Dea High School in Seattle, Ty had ripped up the high school ranks playing fullback in coach Monte Kohler's system but he knew he could play tailback in the Pac-10. The coaches at the University of Washington felt the same way.

Now that Ty has put in his first season at the 'U' that tune has changed, although Eriks still feels like could have made an impact carrying the rock.

"It was very fair," Eriks told recently about his conversion from offense to defense. "I had a meeting with Coach (Neuheisel) and he gave me a choice of what I wanted to do and I chose safety over running back. He said that there is a good opportunity there and I'm ready to take advantage of that opportunity."

Some could say that this move was destiny for Eriks. Is it a coincidence that his roommate is also a safety?

"Evan B (Benjamin) is my roommate so I hang with him all the time, but definitely I socialize with the defensive guys more now than before," Eriks said.

Ty has had some time to soak in the switch and now feels more energized than ever about what the future holds.

"I'm pretty excited to play safety," he said. "It was kind of tough at first because running back is something I've done for a while and it's something I knew I could be good at but I'm pretty excited about the change. I've played running back for years and years and years, so something a little different might be fun."

Other than changing position, philosophies and coaches, things are pretty tame for the first-year college student. Including trips to the chow line.

"It varies," Eriks said about the menu. "They don't keep it too consistent. It's not the same stuff all the time. The burgers are good. I don't really eat their fried fish strips though. I'll eat a green salad and usually some meat of some kind."

And even when there isn't technically a football 'season', there's always things football-related going on.

"Mat drills, lifting and going through my own cardio workout," Eriks said about his off-season routine. "I've got to keep my lungs in shape. And we're doing 7-on-7 stuff, working on pass protections and stuff like that, getting a head start."

Ty insists that even though he's still relatively young in the program, mat drills contain a lot more bark than bite.

"They are tough, but I think the conditioning between the end of the season and the bowl game was tougher," he said. "But the players scare you about it. Just the aura, people talking it up and saying how hard it is but I think the toughest part is the fact that it's at 6 O'Clock in the morning."

What was harder for Eriks to swallow was his natural instinct to run. Having to ride the pine while redshirting was something Ty hasn't had to do since he was in junior high.

"It was tough, hard to get used to," he said about not playing. "In high school you are used to playing all the time. I played from 9th grade on through my senior year. It was different. It's hard knowing that you can still learn things without wasting a season and once I realized that I took advantage of that opportunity."

But even in practice, Eriks knew he wasn't at O'Dea anymore.

"The speed of the game, no question," he said when asked about the biggest difference between 3A and D1 ball. "You pick up on those things pretty fast being in the heat of things. The physical aspect of things was different but you get used to it pretty quick. That's not a hard transition at all, at least it wasn't for me."

Right now Ty doesn't have to worry about contact. He has skills to master, chief among them being the fine art of backpeddaling.

"I played some outside linebacker in high school but I've heard that outside linebacker and safety are similar in certain ways," he said. "I know it will be a tough transition just getting used to going backwards instead of going forwards." (laughs)

Instead of Tony Alford, Eriks now is under the tutelage of Bobby Hauck. With any new charge, Hauck expects Ty to crawl first before he can walk. Ty hopes the 'crawling' process goes as quickly as possible.

"We've met and talked about coverages and I've set up meetings with him about those things," Ty said. "I'm just learning the defense right now. We haven't really talked about anything else. That's what I'm focusing on first."

It will be a sight watching his old position-mates running hard through the hole while Ty comes up in support. Will he hesitate to give Rich Alexis or Chris Singleton a pop? No way. He's got a job to do.

"I'm definitely going to put a lick on them best I can," he said without hesitation. "I'm going to try my best to win that position and get the best opportunity to play, so I'll do what I have to do."

So what will Husky fans see this spring from Ty? "They'll see a hard work ethic, just trying to do my best and do the best that I can out there. I'll definitely learn the defense as best I can and play my hardest."

And hopefully for Eriks, no more position switches.

"As far as I know, safety," he said. "That's it. I'm learning the coverages and stuff like that, so that's what I know right now. If anything else changes, it'll be news to me." Top Stories