Dawgbytes - 8/8

He never did it while at Stanford and Notre Dame, but Tyrone Willingham is trying something just a little different to add some spice to fall camp at Washington. While this group doesn't have a title yet, it's one that carries a lot of cache with the UW coaching staff, one Willingham hopes will be as exclusive as you can get.

"It's an exciting move on our part to increase our level of intensity at practice and to reward excellence in our program," he said when asked why three of his players on Wednesday donned special gold jerseys with the number 1 on them. The three players were Carl Bonnell, Daniel Howell and Greyson Gunheim. According to Willingham, this will become a daily occurance, with there always being three players wearing gold tops - one for offense, one for defense and one for special teams. It's handed out to those that give "A victory effort".

"I want the club to be select, because that means there's a premium on being in it," Willingham added. "I think they were excited to have a chance to don the gold jersey."

So how did the idea come about? According to Willingham, it was all done in-house. "Our coaches came up with what I thought was a great idea to increase our intensity," he said. "And you always want to reward excellence. I usually do that every Friday night (during game week) with our 'effort of the week'. When we go to the hotel, we talk about it and the kind of effort and kind of plays that we want. This is just an extention of that, based on what I thought would fit with the personality of this team. And hopefully they (players) are excited about it."

He went on to say that those players that 'fit the criteria for membership' would be given an award during the team's year-end banquet.

And what about the name? "We haven't come up with a creative name yet," Willingham said. Apparently 'Lead Dawg', 'Top Dawg', 'Gold Club' and 'Mush' are already out of the mix. "I tried to find a spanish translation and that didn't sound very good," he added with a laugh. "But we're looking for something clever that the guys might like."

On the surface, this seems to run a little counter to Willingham's previous move of taking the last names off the UW jerseys as a way of signifying team. But Willingham noted that they've always prided themselves on not only being able to single out great efforts, but reward them as well.

"It's still very much team, because hopefully we're creating a team that wants to wear that jersey," Willingham said. If you look at the individual awards we hand out at any time, it's the same thing. We've always awarded excellence. We have players of the game and now we have players of the day."

Willingham wouldn't divulge the proud recipients for Thursday's practice, noting that the coaches need to make sure they study the practice film to make sure they get their selections correct. If asked if the practice gold tops would end up as part of a new uniform switch for the Dawgs, Willingham's response was simply, "No comment."

While we couldn't ascertain tomorrow's golden stars, Willingham did single a couple of players out for praise on Wednesday. Quintin Daniels and the quarterbacks from the early session (Bonnell and Isaiah Stanback) earned comments, but he was equally ready to hand out a little tongue lashing too. "I thought our pace might have been a little slower than I would have liked today, but that's normal when you split them up," he said. "When they turn around, there is no one behind them, so they get all the work. And I hope that's what guys want when they come into this program. They want to be developed, they want to be pushed, they want to have a chance to play. And we provide all of the above."
Injury update: Junior nose tackle Jordan Reffett hurt his knee during the end of Wednesday's 'B' session, but Willingham did not know the severity of the injury. Safety Darin Harris is not with the team right now (back problem) and will be rejoining the team after the San Jose State game along with Ryan Perkins and Josh Okoebor.

A real hardship: Jasper Henry's career at Washington ended before it could even start. The defensive tackle from Los Angeles came to his freshman camp hurt and could never from his injuries. Willingham said he'll be used in different capacities helping out the team.

Dre Day: When asked about Clarence 'Dre' Simpson, Willingham noted that the senior safety/corner had to step away from football for awhile, but could not give an estimated time for when he expected to see Simpson back in uniform. Willingham added that he did not know if Simpson would ever come back, but he also added that Simpson would be welcomed back if he decided to return.

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