Danny Shelton had his doubts.
How, Washington’s senior nose tackle wondered, would him being more friendly with a freshman running back in the spring help the Huskies beat, say, Stanford in September?
But first-year coach Chris Petersen made his orders and Shelton played along, reluctantly.
“I’m not going to lie, I was one of those guys who saw it as a cheesy thing,” Shelton said of Peterson’s ‘get to know your teammates’ rule. “I thought, ‘This is dumb.’”
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Now, with two weeks to go before the Huskies kick off the Petersen era at Hawaii, Shelton has become a believer in Petersen’s emphasis on team camaraderie.
At any moment, a UW player may be called upon to make a presentation about the teammate or teammates whose locker is next to his. And, yes, Shelton can say now, he does believe that knowing, for example, where running back Lavon Coleman went to high school (Lompoc, Calif.) is a good thing.
“It’s only going to help us be a better team,” Shelton said.
The bonding began in the spring and has continued into fall camp. As a way to break up the monotony, and as a way to promote cohesiveness, the Huskies have participated in a few fun activities:
They received a tutorial on shooting from UW’S basketball coach Lorenzo Romar and then had a team free-throw shooting contest.
They rode go-karts, with receiver Kendyl Taylor claiming the victory. (The linemen, if you’re wondering, didn’t fare so well in the cramped carts.)
They also had a home-run derby — with tennis equipment — inside Husky Stadium.
“Camp can be a grind sometimes — it’s a lot of football for three weeks — so it’s a fun way to kind of take the foot off the gas and relax and bond with your teammates,” sophomore quarterback Jeff Lindquist said.
It remains to be seen whether this culture translates onto the field, but Shelton and others are optimistic.
“It’s different than the old staff did it. I never really thought about team bonding like this,” senior defensive lineman Evan Hudson said. “Our team is coming together — more close-knit than it ever was.
“He (Petersen) has been doing it a long time, and it’s worked for him. I think it’s going to work here, and it’s going to be great.”
• The Huskies held a closed practiced at the Seahawks facility in Renton on Friday. Fall camp formally ends Saturday when the Huskies host a 3 p.m. scrimmage at Husky Stadium. The public is invited to attend. Starting Monday, practices are closed to the media and public.