Secondary Education

Washington had a shake-up on the coaching staff this spring. With running backs coach Tony Alford leaving for Iowa State and linebackers coach Tom Williams leaving for his alma mater Stanford, some changes needed to be made. One was shifting Chuck Heater to the offensive side of the ball, where he now works with the running backs.

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That makes Bobby Hauck the main man in the Husky secondary, handling both corners and safeties for Coach Rick Neuheisel.

"With the corners now my meeting room is a little more crowded," joked Hauck of the new responsibility.

"We've got more ground to cover in there. But we're really hoping that they can operate together and on the same page. They are now meeting together, playing together and working together throughout the day. We hope that there will be continuity there and that they can all work as a unit together."

In return for the added burden of coaching the cornerbacks, Hauck has been relieved of some of his special teams duties. "The special teams load has been lightened a bit, so that helps," said Hauck.

With Heater having played running back for Bo Schembechler at Michigan and Hauck having played safety at Montana, those two coaches really seem to be in their elements.

Hauck's safeties at Washington have been of the hard-hitting variety and that won't change, but he hopes that they'll be able to improve as tacklers. "I don't think the philosophy has changed. Tackling is an integral part of the game and we're always working with our guys on that."

It was at tough spring for Hauck in that his starting safety tandem both sat out most of the spring. Greg Carothers, the projected starter at strong safety, didn't take one snap or do one drill while he rested his shoulder. Free safety Jim Newell was able to suit up and go but was asked to forgo the contact drill so he could be healthy this fall. Add to that starting CB Roc Alexander sitting out with a bad ankle and experienced corner Chris Massey on crutches, it made for some trying times for Hauck.

"It was an interesting spring with the injury issues. We're getting some guys that get just footwork drills and some others that are getting 7-on-7 work. We don't have a full contingent back there. In fact we had very few that actually took the 'live scrimmage'-type reps. We're playing with a lot of youth and inexperience back there, so you never know what's going to happen."

The younger players like James Sims, Evan Benjamin, and Sam Cunningham all did well with the extra reps afforded them.

"I think they are showing great promise. I thought Evan was having a really, really productive spring. He was making a lot of progress and then during our first scrimmage he got a helmet to his ankle and sprained it again," said Hauck.

It was a long spring for Hauck but the toughest, and sometimes the most boring work lies ahead. Evaluating high school prospects in the month of May can be tough with the travel, the waiting around in airports and in hotel rooms, and Hauck's scope of travel is as vast as it gets.

"That's why my kids are out here today," said Hauck of his three children. "I won't see them for a month. I think we have a pretty good handle on our recruiting areas and hopefully when we get out there in May we'll be hearing good things from coaches and kids are interested. Right now we're getting pretty good feedback from kids."

Hauck travels to Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Florida, and Alaska. He also is brought into the Southern California area when needed.

Any chances that he'll get to recruit in some tropical paradises? "There's got to be a kid in Samoa and a kid in Tahiti, maybe a kicker in the Caribbean," laughed Hauck.

"Actually I think there are a couple of kids in Anchorage, so I'll get up there and get a look at those guys and other than the Rocky Mountain region and California, that's about it for me."

One of those kids in Anchorage happens to be Tui Alailefaleula's little brother, Apelu, who is a 6-3 250 pound linebacker for Bartlett High School. Academics will be the big sticking point with Apelu, however, as he missed last football season. He is a fantastic football player with division I potential, however.

Last weekend 300 high school coaches came to Washington for a clinic. Hauck enjoys that. "That is always fun. It's always good to touch base with them and talk football."

So now Hauck has hours of tape to go through and see how his young troops performed this spring. He'll log notes, and then go to his white board in his office and project a secondary rotation that will include Carothers, Newell, and Alexander. The clock is now ticking for the Michigan game.

"It seems like it's a long ways away, but it's always looming, right there on the horizon. We've done some Michigan work, as I'm sure they have on us, and as soon as spring recruiting is over we'll be really into the early Michigan planning. It's a great opponent. It's a great venue. It'll be a marquee game across the nation. If you can't get excited about that game, you might as well find something else to do," said Hauck.

"That's a big-time deal." Top Stories