Thursday, while many fans fixated on newcomers like Nick Montana during the Huskies' second spring workout, Anthony Boyles kept plugging away at a new position — cornerback.
It doesn’t take long to become old news in college football.
Two years ago, Anthony Boyles was the player everyone wanted to see at Washington’s spring practice, a highly touted receiver from Compton, Calif., who many — including Boyles — figured might step into a regular role, if not the starting lineup.
It didn’t work out that way. And Thursday, while many fans fixated on newcomers like Nick Montana during the Huskies’ second spring workout, Boyles kept plugging away at a new position — cornerback.
It’s a spot that is providing new hope that he may ultimately fulfill some of those once-lofty expectations.
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After Tuesday’s first spring practice, UW coach Steve Sarkisian singled out Boyles, now a redshirt sophomore, as his player of the day.
“He’s been here two, 2 ½ years now and hopefully he is seeing the light,” defensive coordinator Nick Holt said of Boyles, who arrived at UW in January 2008 after sitting out 2007 due to academic issues. “I’m seeing a change in him. He’s going about his business in a really responsible fashion. He’s matured, and I think he knows what he has to do now, and he’s being quiet and he’s just playing ball.”
Boyles’ own words seem to back up Holt’s claim.
Where he once made brash statements, such as comparing himself to Chad Ochocinco, Boyles now says, “I’m just trying to do whatever it takes to make the team better and myself better.”
The move to cornerback came late last season as Sarkisian sought a way to get Boyles on the field. While at 6 feet 3 he was one of UW’s taller receivers, he struggled to earn a spot in Washington’s rotation. And with every receiver returning this season, the competition wasn’t going to wane.
Boyles said he took no offense to being asked to move to cornerback.
“Evidently they think I can be a better corner than a receiver, so I just take it as it can help me out,” he said.
He added: “I love it. I actually think I can go far playing corner. It’s less pressure at corner. You are on your own. You (don’t have to) focus on a quarterback calling a play for you, or a coach calling a play for you. You are on an island. That’s what I like.”
The competition at cornerback isn’t necessarily less stiff than at receiver. Desmond Trufant and Adam Long return as the starters after strong finishes to their freshman seasons. Veterans Quinton Richardson and Vonzell McDowell, each former starters, also return.
But with his height and now weighing 200 pounds — compared to 173 on the day he arrived at UW — Boyles brings a size dimension the others lack.
“And I’ve got long arms,” Boyles said in a moment when some of the old brashness returned, “so pretty much ain’t nobody getting behind me.”
He had an interception in Tuesday’s practice and impressed Sarkisian for being “technically sound. We’re going to give him every opportunity to go win that spot.”
Music to the ears of Boyles after two frustrating years trying to find his way.
“I just think pretty much that God had a plan for me,” he said. “So I don’t worry about that I could have played (his first two years), or should have, would have. I’m just happy where I’m at now.”
• UW has received two more commitments for the Class of 2011 in the last two days from a pair of California high schoolers — Aubrey Coleman, a defensive end from Walnut, and Maataua Brown, a lineman from Paramount. UW already has five commits for that class.
• UW will practice again Saturday at 1 p.m. at Husky Stadium. All spring practices are open to the public.