Wells defines toughness

Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham is trying to instill a mindset within the Husky football program. Consistency, accountability and toughness are what he and his staff preach every day to their players and junior college transfer S Jason Wells embodies all of those attributes.

"I said in the spring that one of the wonderful qualities he brings to our football team is instant toughness," Willingham said recently about Wells. "He came in on a Friday or Saturday, and we started practice that next Thursday. Shortly thereafter he sprained his ankle and he never missed one session. To me, that's the sign of the kind of safeties we want in our program."

For his part, Wells has seemed to take it all in stride.

"I had to just suck it up and play," Wells said. "In spring ball there is something like 15 practices and then you have the spring game so I had to get through the injury and I figured after the spring game I would have time to be able heal so that's what I did."

Wells was so impressive in the spring that he earned the starting nod at free safety heading into the offseason. Now, two weeks into fall camp, Wells has done nothing but strengthen his standing in his position coach's mind.

"His pain threshold must be really high, because the ankle that he played on in the spring, I would say that 90% of the players in college football couldn't have played on that ankle," Washington defensive backs coach J.D. Williams said after a recent workout. "This kid just toughed it out and got through it and continued to make great plays while he had that sore ankle. He stayed sharp mentally and you couldn't help but put him up there because he's earned his spot.

"He's an intelligent young man. He's a leader so even if he just brings himself he's bringing something special."

"There is still some learning taking place for him within the structure of our defense, so he doesn't have it all down yet," Willingham added. "But he's doing an excellent job, from that perspective."

Williams, like Wells is new to the staff and the program, but the first year coach has had an immediate impact on his players.

"He has helped us tremendously," Wells noted. "He helps us get our footwork down and our confidence up and he's pretty much like our father figure back in the secondary."

The fact that Wells is even enrolled at Washington this year was a bit of a coup as well. After prepping at Bonita High School in La Verne, California, Wells didn't see much attention coming his way. He qualified for a four-year school but since none gave him any looks he headed to Mt. San Antonio and wowed coaches with his coverage and, here's that word again, toughness.

"I went the one year at Mt. San Antonio and I thought I would have to go two years, but coach Trent Miles and a few other schools, like Marshall, were looking at me and I took my trip up here and decided I really liked it up here," Wells said.

He received offers from both Washington and Marshall and likely would have seen others coming his way except, most schools thought he wouldn't be eligible for another year. Their loss is Washington's gain.

Now fully entrenched at Washington, Wells has his sights set on a bowl game and is keenly aware that this year's senior class hasn't been to a bowl since their first year in the program.

"I'm going to do whatever it takes to get them there because I know they want it just as bad as I do," Wells said. "I really don't know about the past because I'm just trying to help out with the future."

And the hope is that future includes the toughness that Wells demonstrated during spring and he continues to show on the field every day.

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