Last season, Kirkland started five games at right guard (after playing tackle as a sophomore), and freshman Nick Harris started in that spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game and the Peach Bowl. Now both could start at guard, with Harris seeing action at right guard early in camp.
Washington left guard Andrew Kirkland marvels at how expectations have risen since his first year as a Husky in 2012, the final season of coach Steve Sarkisian’s tenure.
And as a fifth-year senior, and starting 14 games the past two seasons — at right guard, right tackle and left tackle — Kirkland also has higher expectations for himself. He has worked with the No. 1 offense at left guard in fall camp, and his goal is to cement his status in that spot.
“That’s the goal, and that’s what I’ve been working hard on all camp and all offseason,” said the 6-foot-4, 321-pound Kirkland, who went to Jesuit High School in Portland. “Our entire offensive line is really experienced, and I am excited to see us fly around.”
Last season, after starting right guard Shane Brostek was injured against Oregon, Kirkland started five games there (after playing as a tackle as a sophomore), and true freshman Nick Harris started in that spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game and the Peach Bowl.
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Now both could start at guard, with Harris seeing action at right guard early in fall camp. Harris has been limited in recent practices, giving junior right guard Jesse Sosebee some time with the first-team offense.
New offensive-line coach Scott Huff likes what he has seen from Kirkland and Harris.
“They’ve gotten the majority of the reps with the No. 1s, and they’re really doing good so far,” Huff said. “But I like the progress of a lot of our guys, and we just need to keep it up.”
Although they were competing for time last season at right guard, Kirkland said he and Harris are good friends. He looks forward to playing with him now.
“We bring different attributes to the table,” Kirkland said. “He got a lot of experience as a young guy last season, and (filling in for Brostek) helped me get more acquainted with the guard spot.”
Kirkland said he likes the team camaraderie that coach Chris Petersen espouses, and he said the experience and unity of the offensive line should be a huge asset. With honors candidates at the tackle spots (juniors Trey Adams and Kaleb McGary) and at center (Coleman Shelton), the offensive line should be a team strength.
“On any team the offensive line is supposed to be one of the most solidified groups,” he said. “You’re in the trenches with these guys, and we’re really unified.”
Kirkland said he spent the offseason working on building his upper-body strength and becoming a “playbook junkie.” He said that has helped him read defenses and become a better athlete.
It’s all part of a steady progression for Kirkland at Washington. He admits it has at times been humbling, but served to motivate him.
“It’s made me want to compete harder, learn more and get after it every single day,” he said. “Now I feel like it’s my time to go out there and help show the world what the Huskies bring to the table.”
Kirkland said his time at UW has seemed to go by fast. He is proud to be part of the team’s rise these past few seasons.
“They say the older you get that time goes by faster, and it has gone by faster and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he said. “It’s been amazing to see what Coach Pete has done for this program. I really think it’s going to keep going up and up.”