April 18, 2005
Spring football practice is a time for players to fight for positions and the depth charts to shake out in preparation for fall camp. The Huskies' fullback position is no exception for that rule of thumb. There are six or seven candidates on the Husky roster fighting for the right to be called starting fullback and two seniors at the top of that list, Ty Eriks and James Sims, will give the coaches two distinctly different styles to choose from.
Sims is built more like a tailback, standing 6-foot-1 and weighing 205-pounds, while Eriks is more of a typically-sized fullback at 6-foot-2 and 235-pounds. Sims is arguably more of an offensive threat with the ball in his hands, a notion he solidified in last season's Apple Cup where he rushed for a career-high 85 yards. Eriks might be the more accomplished blocker based on his size and strength.
The two may have many differences on the field, but one thing they have equal stature on is brainpower and knowledge of both sides of the ball. The duo were both first-team all-Pac-10 Academic selections last year, Eriks sporting a 3.7 grade point average in neurobiology and Sims boasting a 3.4 grade point average in literature. Together, they lead a fullback corps that will be tough to outsmart.
"Fullback is about as complicated as any position out there besides quarterback," says Sims. "You have a lot to think about and you have to be able to make adjustments quickly. It helps if you understand the concepts because you can't just go out there and go instinctively."
Defenses will have trouble outsmarting Sims and Eriks not only because of their intellect, but also because of their previous experience on defense. Sims moved to the offensive side of the ball in 2004 after starting his career as a safety, while Eriks has spent time at defensive end, outside linebacker and safety during his Husky career.
"It's kind of fun to have somebody back there to talk to and joke around with," said Sims about Eriks. "Especially someone who was in the same boat as I was last year in switching to fullback."
Both feel they have benefited from playing multiple positions during their Husky careers.
"I think my time at defensive line and all those other positions has helped me put the picture together," says Eriks about his fifth position change. "It just makes my job a little easier on the offensive side of the ball trying to block and knowing what everyone else is trying to do."
Even knowing that Eriks and Sims are fighting for the starting nod at fullback, the two are friends and very supportive of each other. They each realize that while they are competing individually, there are more important team goals to meet.
"I'd like to win the starting position," Eriks says, "but what I'd really like to do is win the Rose Bowl."