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It's 'Go Time' For Trufant Protégé Greg Ducre
Release: 04/16/2013
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April 16, 2013

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By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing

SEATTLE - Gregory Ducre immediately picked up his phone last week when heard the news pal Desmond Trufant had been one of 23 expected picks invited to attend the NFL draft this month in New York.

"I know he's very, very happy right now," Ducre said of his former fellow Huskies cornerback. "I sent him a text and said, `Congrats, man!'

"That's very big time. He texted me back and said, `Thanks, bro.'"

Ducre is a protégé of Trufant, UW's 2012 co-captain, four-year starter and All-Pac-12 cornerback whose stock has soared into conversation as a potential first-round draft choice.

"I'm very happy for `Tru,' definitely. He deserves every bit of it," Ducre said of the current NFL buzz around Trufant.

In 2011, Ducre emerged from two years of Trufant's tutoring to start his first six games at Washington, as a sophomore. Last season he played in all 13 games and started in November at Colorado - when his mentor's streak of 45 consecutive starts ended because of an injured hamstring.

Now, suddenly, he's in Trufant's place of a year ago, a rising senior in a secondary that will play many younger guys. Ducre, starting safety Sean Parker, safety Will Shamburger and 2012 surprise walk-on and Central Washington transfer Tre Watson will be the four seniors among the Huskies' dozen defensive backs this fall.

All are getting chances to shine during spring practices that continued Tuesday, resume Thursday morning and end Saturday with the annual spring game at 4 p.m. at Memorial Stadium in Seattle Center.

"I definitely feel like the older guy. Yes, I definitely do," Ducre said. "Really, I'm just doing my job so others can follow. Just minimizing my mistakes.

"I'm always in meetings early, and on the field, just doing my job. Don't do anything extra. Do your job. That's how the defense works."

Usually quiet, Ducre says he has particularly taken to mentoring Cleveland Wallace. The redshirt freshman cornerback is Ducre's height but is 11 pounds lighter and two years younger.

"I'm not a big talker. I've never been really vocal. I try to lead by example," Ducre said. "Cleveland Wallace, I talk to him a whole lot. He comes to me with questions on coverages. We communicate a lot."

What's he tell him?

Ducre says he learned a key lesson to go against the Pac-12's high-speed offenses during his three seasons of meetings, practices, film study, and games with Trufant.

"I learned, GO!" Ducre said. "When you know, go. It's confidence."

It's go time right now for the 5-foot-10, 177-pound speedster from Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles.

Ducre is in a crowded competition to replace Trufant as UW's featured cornerback. Marcus Peters, who started the last eight games of 2012, plus Wallace, junior-college and Alabama transfer Travell Dixon, and Watson are all getting long looks this month.

The search for new starting cornerbacks may last up until the Aug. 31 opener against Boise State inside new Husky Stadium.

"We've got to find somebody who is going to be consistent," defensive backs coach Keith Heyward said.

It's actually been go time for Ducre since late January.

One month and a week after Ducre had two tackles in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas against Boise State, Ducre put on non-descript workout clothes and track spikes -- and zoomed.

Ducre stunned Huskies track coach Greg Metcalf, those along the sprint straightaway at Dempsey Indoor and a live internet audience watching January's UW Indoor Preview meet via video stream.

Ducre had not run track competitively in 3½ years. He also had been through less than a week of training in it, so he ran the Indoor Preview unattached, independently and not officially with the Huskies' team. Wearing a plain black outfit instead of Washington purple, Ducre blistered his 60-meter final heat, taking second out of more than 30 competitors in a wowing 6.76 seconds.

Had he been attached, it would have been the fourth-fastest 60-meter time in UW history.

"Greg DUCRE!" Metcalf exclaimed in live commentary over the internet. "That's Husky footballer Greg Ducre!

"We're going to put the young man in a uniform next week, it looks like," Metcalf told the viewing audience.

He did. Ducre finished the indoor season with the Huskies. His best official time was 6.77 in the 60.

But that cameo apparently will not have a sequel following spring football. Ducre says he likely will not run outdoor track.

"Track went really well. I probably say I'm done," he said. "It's time to focus on football. It's time to focus on what I came here for.

"It was good while it lasted."

Really good. So well, he now has a mini reputation for his speed that could in handy this fall in Washington's defensive secondary.

"Yes, I think I have. I would say others who didn't know me, outside of football," he said, chuckling, "I am a high flyer."

INSIDE THE DAWGS: As he has in previous spring games during his first four years as Huskies' coach, Steve Sarkisian will not do a full-on spring "game" Saturday. Instead, fans who are being admitted free - and those nationally on Pac-12 Networks - will see situation scrimmaging such as inside the red zone, 2-minute drills and overtime situations, among others. Sarkisian wants to keep the format entertaining for fans and indicative of the faster-paced, no-huddle offense that has been UW's focus this spring. But assorted minor injuries - "we're a little bit nicked up," he said -- and other considerations are keeping him from a true "game" with score being kept, etc. Sarkisian said there may be kicking competitions and passing competitions plus the opportunity for fans to call plays during Saturday's scrimmaging. "We are trying to make it beneficial to us to maximize our time on the field," he said, "but also make it entertaining for our fans so that they feel good about the Husky football team for 2013."

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