Aug. 11, 2006
SEATTLE - Friday on Montlake brought the fourth day of practices during the Husky football team's fall camp. The day featured a return to a pair of split-squad practices with half the team practicing at once with an overlap in the middle for special teams.
Today was also the second day the team was allowed to practice in shoulder pads and helmets while Saturday's morning practice will be the first in full pads.
One Husky who has already gained the attention of the Husky coaching staff early in the camp is senior wide receiver Quintin Daniels. Daniels was honored as the offense's "player of the day" for his performance at Wednesday's practice in a new tradition started this season whereby the top offensive, defensive and special teams players are awarded a gold jersey to wear the day after an outstanding practice.
Daniels' honor is all the more special when you consider that it's been nearly two years since he's played in a game. After seeing action in nine games as a freshmen in 2003, he'd played in six games, starting three, in 2004 before he season came to a premature end due to a knee injury.
After surgery, Daniels competed in camp last fall, but the unfortunate saga continued.
"I played in the last camp and I made it all the way to the last day when I got hurt," Daniels explained. "Then I came back about two weeks later and practiced for about a week and a half and got hurt again."
That last injury led to a second surgery on the knee he'd hurt the first time around. After yet another lengthy period of rehabilitation, he's back on the field preparing for the upcoming season.
"Of course, I haven't gotten everything back," Daniels said. "I'm not `110 percent,' but I actually feel better than I did last year. It seems to be more stable. I'm just going out there, running around and doing whatever I can do."
Daniels estimates he's back to about 90 percent of his pre-injury self. He recognizes that he can and will continue to improve. "For one thing, I have to wear a brace, so that can't help but slow you down a little," he said. "I guess there's some rust as well since I haven't been able to run routes against competition since last season, but that's pretty much it."
As with all athletes who work to return from injury, there are lessons to be learned from the process.
"One big thing I learned is that football isn't everything," he said. "It can be taken away with the snap of your fingers. There were some times when I was down because I really wanted to get out there and play, but I wasn't allowed too. But I stuck it out, and I'm back."
For now, as the season approaches, Daniels seems to have taken the approach that he'll continue to work hard in practice in the hopes that good things will come.
"I don't feel like I really have anything to prove to anyone else," Daniels explained, "but I'd still like to prove to myself that I can play and compete with the rest of the team. Right now, I'm just out there trying to have a good time and enjoy my football experience."
NOTES: Friday, Coach Tyrone Willingham announced that the winners of the golden jerseys after Thursday's practice were TB Louis Rankin (offense), CB Roy Lewis (defense) and OLB Dan Howell (special teams) ... Saturday is the annual UW Football Picture Day, on the turf at Husky Stadium. Gates open at 1:00 p.m. and the event runs for two hours. Fans can meet all the Husky football players as well as members of the UW volleyball and soccer teams. Free food and drinks, as well as schedule posters and more, will be available while supplies last. Both parking (after 12 noon) and admission are free.