8/10 practice report - AM

"We've got three weeks 'til Arbor," Rick Neuheisel yelled out this morning to everybody within shouting distance. The energy and enthusiasm was clearly evident this morning as the varsity players were finally able to get out on the Husky Stadium field turf and go about their business.

Senior wideout Paul Arnold was miffed when Steve Miller's 'The Joker' came busting out of the speakers during pre-practice warmups, and he let everyone know it with a resounding 'BOO!' Paul's protestations went on deaf ears, as a Miller triple-shot ('The Joker', 'Fly Like an Eagle' and 'Jet Airliner' started off the day in old-school style.

After senior LB Ben Mahdavi led the team through 'Husky Jacks', the offense and defense split up. Watching the offensive line go through their position workout, there were some players being moved around.

Exactly what you would expect from the first day of veteran practice.

Khalif Barnes and Nick Newton started out at tackle, Aaron Butler and Elliott Zajac were the guards and Todd Bachert was at center. Ryan Brooks and Andre Reeves return from tackle last year, as do Jason Simonson and Robin Meadow at the guards and Brad Vanneman at center. Vanneman will be one to watch in the near future.

Freshman Stanley Daniels was decked out in street clothes. He's sitting out, pending a decision by the NCAA clearinghouse.

All the quarterbacks were in good form, starting with junior Cody Pickett. His shoulder is back to 100 percent and he looks to be making his progressions with mid-season precision. Taylor Barton also looked solid, showing good arm strength and accuracy. True frosh Isaiah Stanback's head is swimming from everything Steve Axman is throwing his way, but he's a gamer. He shows real glimpses of just how bright his future is.

TB Rich Alexis is in great shape and ready to roll this year. He's running with aggression and speed. Senior Braxton Cleman was slowed a bit by a tight hamstring, and will most likely take it easy for a few days. Depth is not a big issue, however, as Chris Singleton, Kenny James and Shelton Sampson all are doing well under Chuck Heater's tutleage.

Reggie Williams sat out this morning's drills with fellow WR Justin Robbins. Williams has a foot strain but he was walking around in tennis shoes without any limp. Robbins is only going one practice per day and will be switching off with Pat Reddick.

Charles Frederick was back on the field this morning. Receivers coach Bobby Kennedy was showing ET a lot of love when he made good plays, egging him on to do more. He did suffer a drop during 7-on-7's, but it's great to see him back out running routes and fielding punts.

The tight ends looked to be in particularly good form this early on, as Kevin Ware and Joe Toledo caught nearly everthing that came their way. The youngsters, Jason Benn and Ben Bandel, also looked to be having fun with their new teammates. Ware had a sweet grab down the middle from Pickett to highlight the morning practice.

Defensively, there's ample reason for optimism. Manase Hopoi, Terry Johnson, Jerome Stevens, and Josh Miller are the top four to watch. It's a nice balance of power, size and speed.

With Kai Ellis sitting out this morning (he'll only go one practice per day), Anthony Kelley was at defensive end.

Seniors Jafar Williams, Ben Mahdavi, and sophmore Joseph Lobendahn looked sharp at linebacker. Lobendahn will be giving Husky fans a lot to smile about this fall. He's especially quick and a very sure tackler.

Houdini Jackson worked behind Kelley, and RS-frosh Ty Eriks, Marquis Cooper, and Tim Galloway rounded out the depth at linebacker.

In the secondary, Greg Carothers and Jimmy Newell worked together at safety for the first time in a while. Both are finally healthy.

Roc Alexander, Derrick Johnson, Sam Cunningham and Chris Massey all looked good at corner. Roc and DJ look like the starters but all will play significant minutes. The redshirt-frosh combo of James Sims Jr. and Evan Benjamin provided a nice glimpse into the future at safety.

Sam Cunningham had the 'almost' defensive big play of the morning workout, nearly picking off a ball in the flat. If he had been able to gobble it up, it would have been a sure six.


Number change: Pat Reddick changed his number from 5 to 21, allowing FB Zach Tuiasosopo to keep his number 5.

Brooks in the house: Aaron Brooks, a 6-0 guard prospect from Seattle (Wash.) Franklin was at practice. Brooks is considered by many to be the top point guard on the West Coast and is being recruited by UCLA and Oregon, as well as the Huskies.

Jones makes it home: Cory Jones, a 6-2, 215-pound FB from Seattle (Wash.) Kennedy was ready to go this morning, donning his new number - 30. Jones has to sit out this year after transferring from Notre Dame, and will have three years to play starting in 2003.

Special teams: Charles Frederick and Nate Robinson will wage a nice battle as the punt returners this fall. Ben Mahdavi returns for his third season of long-snapping, a big relief to Coach Bobby Hauck.

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