Sylvain Inching Closer to Playing Time

Johnny Sylvain entered UW as one of the top 20 defensive backs in the nation according to one of the country's top recruiting experts, Tom Lemming. But until now, Sylvain had not cracked the two-deep roster. Sylvain talks about his improvement and first year and a half on campus.

It's been more than a year since Johnny Sylvain arrived on UW's campus as one of the top 20 defensive backs in the nation, according to one of the country's top recruiting experts, Tom Lemming.

But it's been a struggle for Sylvain so far. He's seen players his age and younger move past him on the depth chart and in one case (Scott Starks) start for two years. Many people felt Sylvain would be the Starks of his class, but it's taken a little bit longer for him to come along.

One positive sign came Monday morning, when the latest depth chart revealed Sylvain is now in the two-deep for the first time, backing up Starks. Sylvain is also on several second-team special teams units.

"I guess the coaches feel like I'm coming along," Sylvain said Wednesday night after practice. "But I feel like I'm just trying to improve every day and help out the team any way they need me."

Earlier this season, that role was exclusively on the scout team. But Sylvain is inching closer to getting some reps on the field.

Sylvain spent all of last season on the scout team as a redshirt, following an injury that sidelined him for almost the entire fall camp.

"I had a bone removed out of my toe, and it slowed me down," Sylvain said. "But it's back to normal. I'm fine running and I feel great now."

Sylvain was not one of the players that immediately benefited from new defensive backs coach Ron Cooper's unbiased evaluation and placement of his players in the offseason. But he raves about Cooper as much as any of the former second and third-stringers that are now starting.

"He is a great coach. He lets you play, and he gets down on you when you do something wrong, but all of the DB's love his attitude on the field, and off the field everybody loves him," Sylvain said. "He's one heck of a coach, that's all you can say."

Sylvain said he's comforted by the fact that he's constantly being evaluated, and when he's playing well enough to start, he is certain Cooper will put him in the starting lineup.

"I listen to what he tells me to work on every day, technique, anything," Sylvain said. "I just really need to work on my man-to-man, bump-and-run, and work on my speed and stuff."

And when Sylvain is ready to play, he will see the field. It could be sooner than he expected.

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