April 6, 2006
By Noah Cohan
For most Huskies, spring football serves as a refresher, a chance to get back on the practice field after a long winter of hard work in the weight room, to reconnect with coaches, set goals for summer workouts and prep for fall camp.
But four participants in Washington's 2006 Spring Drills will not be renewed. Instead, they will be just plain new - new to their coaches, new to their teammates and new to Husky fans everywhere.
Unlike the 17 other UW recruits that will join the team in the fall, these fresh-faced Dawgs have arrived early, hoping to get a head start on their Husky careers this spring. All four arrive on Montlake having spent the last season or two in junior college, and all of them are California natives getting their first impressions of the Northwest. As their careers in purple and gold get under way, allow gohuskies.com to introduce Anthony Atkins, Danny Morovick, Jordan Murchison and Jason Wells.
Atkins, a defensive end from Long Beach, Calif., arrived on Montlake from Compton Community College, where he earned All-Conference and All-California region honors at linebacker. What drew him to Washington, however, was the chance to play on the defensive line for Coach Randy Hart. The 19-year Husky coach has mentored greats such as Steve Emtman, D'Marco Farr, Jason Chorak and Larry Triplett, and through just a few days of spring drills, Atkins can see why.
"Coach Hart is intense," said Atkins. "He works you hard, makes sure you keep pushing and finish your drills. With the guys that he's sent to the NFL, I'm just going to follow what he says. I'm privileged to have a coach like Coach Hart."
Morovick comes to the UW by way of Saddleback Community College, but he didn't play football there. Instead, the long snapper from Mission Viejo, Calif. worked on his technique with former UCLA long snapper Chris Rubio, improving enough to impress the Husky coaches and earn a scholarship.
"I'm really excited to be here," Morovick said. "It's a lot of fun. I haven't been in pads in two seasons, so I kind of have to get used to it again, but I'm fired up. I just want to learn to excel here at Washington. It's a lot tougher than high school."
Murchison, a high school teammate of current Husky corner Matt Fountaine at Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, Calif., spent the last two years at City College of San Francisco. The defensive back is equally impressed with Coach Tyrone Willingham and new secondary coach J.D. Wiliams.
"Sometimes when we're working out, doing push-ups or other drills, Coach Willingham will get right down there with us," Murchison said. "He and the staff have a goal to get a lot better. He stressed doing things the right way.
"Coach Williams, I've only known him for a little bit, but I've got a lot of respect for him. He's straight-up with us. He doesn't sugarcoat things. He's a really good teacher. Even though he's only been here a short time, I think he really cares about us, what we do, and how we improve. He's hard on us, but you have to be for us to improve."
Wells, a safety from La Verne, Calif., played at Mt. San Antonio Junior College last season. He too has been impressed with the tenor set by the Husky coaches, starting with Coach Willingham.
"My first practice up here was pretty hard, but it's been fun," said Wells. "Coach Willingham pushes us to our best. I just want to learn all the plays and get my technique down with the new defensive back coach, J.D. Williams. I'm trying hard to get everything situated."
Hard as the work may be, the foursome agrees that a positive vibe surrounds the team. Asked his favorite thing about being a Husky, Murchison points to "the pride that everyone has in the program." Morovick's favorite thing so far is "just being part of the team, getting to know the guys." Wells also pointed to the camaraderie, and "seeing how intense they are compared to the guys at the junior college level." Atkins highlighted the facilities, which he called "very impressive."
All four are eager to learn their playbooks and get to know the new coaches. They all emphasize that they have a lot of work to do and are grateful for the opportunity to get a head start.
But being a Husky isn't the only thing new to these four natives of California. They've also had to adjust to life in the Emerald City.
"I like that it's a city, that there are people everywhere," Morovick said. "I haven't liked the weather. It's better now than it was a few months ago. The sun has been coming out, and it's getting warmer, so that's good."
"The rain doesn't really bother me too much," said Murchison. "I like Seattle. It's kind of like the Bay Area a little bit, with the water and the mountains. At first I was a little homesick, but I'm better now."
"It's mellow, it's calm," Atkins said. "I like it. There are lots of things to do. I like the scenery, the atmosphere and the people here are cool, too."
Once they've adjusted to the atmosphere that is Husky spring football, the four new Dawgs hope to translate that experience into success on the field. Along the way, they'll no doubt play a role in helping the fall newcomers adjust to life in the Dawghouse.