Help is on the way for the Washington defensive secondary, which has just three scholarship cornerbacks on the roster this spring.
The Huskies signed seven defensive-back recruits last month — three cornerbacks and four safeties — and all will get a chance to play as true freshmen next fall.
Until then, senior Travell Dixon says he’s trying to take advantage of the opportunity now to lock down the starting cornerback job opposite established junior Marcus Peters.
Dixon, so far, has been a bit of a revelation through four spring practices, after falling out of the mix as a junior in 2013. While battling a minor knee injury, he appeared in four games for UW last season, mostly in mop-up duty.
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“I feel comfortable,” the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Dixon said Tuesday. “I don’t call it a clean slate. I just call it a blessing, and I’m going to take advantage.”
Dixon, originally from Miami, is playing with his fourth different coaching staff in three years. He was a junior college All-American at Eastern Arizona College in 2011, and then spent spring 2012 at Alabama.
He transferred to UW in September 2012 and redshirted that season.
“Coaches are going to come and go,” Dixon said. “I’m not really worried about the coaching staff. I’ve just got to control me. That’s all I’m worried about.”
Working closely with new secondary coach Jimmy Lake, Dixon is holding down a spot with UW’s first-unit defense (though there is no formal depth chart for the spring). Redshirt freshman Jermaine Kelly, a touted recruit from the Class of 2013, and walk-on transfer Brian Clay have been with the second group.
“I’d say there’s a bit of urgency,” Dixon said. “Last year, I had a little bit of (an) injury, but it’s over and this year I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity I have right now.”
Lake lamented that his group has only one interception in four practices, but said he has been generally pleased.
“Travell has done a nice job so far,” Lake said. “He’s made some plays on the football; no interceptions yet. We only have one interception from the whole crew, so we’ve got to get a lot of improvement on that.”
In the first day of full pads, Shaq Thompson had his first carry for the Huskies in a live team drill Tuesday.
The 6-2, 231-pound linebacker, being tried occasionally as a running back this spring, drew the biggest cheer from teammates when he took a handoff from Jeff Lindquist, burst up the middle and broke free into the secondary. The Huskies aren’t tackling yet, so the play was whistled dead after Thompson got about 30 yards downfield.
At his traditional position, Thompson had the biggest hit of the day when he smacked into running back Dwayne Washington in the backfield during an earlier 11-on-11 drill. Washington popped right back up.
• Sophomore defensive end Marcus Farria and senior lineman James Atoe returned to practice Tuesday. Farria had missed the last two workouts for unspecified reasons; Atoe was absent on Saturday.
• Coach Chris Petersen’s assessment after four practices: “We are making progress. We have a lot of different things going in, so there’s a little bit of confusion going along with that progress, so it’s a little bit of two steps forward, one step back. But the guys are working hard.”
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364
On Twitter: @a_jude