March 31, 2005
Seattle - The Washington football team will hold the first of its 15 spring practices Thursday, March 31 at Husky Stadium. It will mark the first time new coach Tyrone Willingham has led his team through its paces. The Huskies will have to be early risers this year to meet with the first-year coach's spring schedule. The Huskies conclude spring practice April 23 with the annual intrasquad Spring Game at 12:45 p.m. in Husky Stadium.
Willingham has designated that position meetings will take place at 6:30 a.m. during a weekday designated as a practice day. The team will reconvene at 4 p.m. to two-hour practices in Husky Stadium. Saturday practices are scheduled for April 2, 9 and 16. All practices are closed to the public except for the Spring Game.
"What excites me the most is that we are finding out about this team," Willingham says. "Right now we are dealing with a lot of unknowns. My biggest thing is that those who have distinguished themselves, they should be the ones who really stand out this spring. It shouldn't be about some resting on what they have already accomplished. It should be that they are out to prove they are the very best and distinguish themselves once again, and those who are unknowns can rise to the occasion. So that process about spring practice is what I am most excited about."
The Huskies return 19 starters and 63 lettermen from last year's 1-10 team. Only three players who started six or more games do not return. That list includes offensive tackle Ryan Brooks and cornerbacks Sam Cunningham and Derrick Johnson. Also gone are seniors Khalif Barnes (offensive tackle) and Zach Tuiasosopo (fullback) who had their senior season cut short due to injury.
The Huskies will welcome three new players to the team this spring. Sophomore quarterback Johnny DuRocher joins the UW roster after transferring from Oregon. He sat out the 2004 campaign and will be eligible to play this fall. Also new to the roster are walkons J.R. Wolfolk and Desmond Davis. Wolfolk is a junior from Issaquah who transferred to Washington from Pacific Lutheran to compete on the Husky track squad. He participates in the long and triple jumps. Davis came to Washington after spending last fall at Central Washington. A former standout at Olympia High School, he did not play at CWU last fall. His younger brother, Tyrone, will be a freshman at Washington this fall.
Sitting out the Spring
Several Husky players are expected to miss spring practices due to injuries. That list includes redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jasper Henry (shoulder surgery), junior defensive tackle Donny Mateaki (foot surgery), sophomore defensive tackle Erik Lobos (broken foot), redshirt freshman linebacker Trenton Tuiasosopo (facial fractures from a bicycle accident), sophomore defensive tackle Wilson Afoa (back) and junior wide receiver Quentin Daniels (knee surgery). Junior nose tackle Dan Milsten (dislocated ankle/broken fibula) and junior cornerback Josh Okebor (knee surgery), are expected to participate in a limited capacity as is senior defensive tackle Andy Heater, who had off-season wrist surgery. Head coach Tyrone Willingham has announced that junior cornerback Dre Simpson will not participate in spring practices.
One noticeable difference on this edition of Husky football is the absence of long hair. Willingham has instituted a shoulder-length limit on his players' hair length. It has resulted in some drastic new looks. Senior linebacker Joseph Lobendahn said he had his first full hair cut in nearly four years to meet the standard. "It's just hair," Lobendahn said. "It can always grow back."
Several Huskies will be tried at new positions when practices begin. Senior Joe Toledo moves from tight end to tackles and switches his jersey to 67 from 83. Senior Ty Eriks moves from defensive end to fullback, a position he has played in the past at Washington. Sophomore Cody Ellis moves fulltime to wide receiver. A cornerback in 2004, he also played some wide receiver the last third of the season when the position was depleted due to injuries. Junior Jason Benn moves from tight end to offensive tackle and sophomore Jordan Reffett moves back to nose tackle after playing on the offensive line last year.
Practices will take place on the following dates: March 31, April 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21 and the Spring Game is slated for April 23.