Kyler Gordon arrived at the University of Washington as an athletic anomaly.
In his senior season at Archbishop Murphy High School, Gordon piled up 841 receiving yards, 517 rushing yards, an 88-yard touchdown pass, 44 tackles and five interceptions. In the Husky Combine last spring, he finished first on the team in the vertical jump (42.5 inches), second in the 3-cone drill (6.52 seconds) and pro agility drill (3.87 seconds) and third in the broad jump (10 feet, five inches). Before he found football, he excelled as a boy both at competitive dance and kung fu.
So, yes, the athleticism isn’t an issue.
It also isn’t the reason the redshirt freshman has been practicing with the starters at cornerback in his second fall camp.
“Technique-wise, he’s come a long way,” said Jimmy Lake, the UW defensive coordinator. “He was a super athletic player that we signed, and he came here and we really just had to try to harness all that athleticism. He’s continuing to get better, definitely knows our defense and some of the wrinkles.
“Technique-wise still has a ways to go, just like a lot of the guys do. But I’m excited for his future. He’s been locked in. He’s been studying tape like a vet.”
Gordon will have to continue to study — and impress — to ultimately start against Eastern Washington on Aug. 31. As always, there’s intense competition in Lake’s secondary. Both redshirt freshman Dominique Hampton and freshman Trent McDuffie have been practicing with the second team and could potentially push for a larger role.
To this point, UW’s starting secondary has been consistent: cornerbacks Gordon and Keith Taylor, nickelback Elijah Molden and safeties Myles Bryant and Cameron Williams.
But with 20 days until the season opener, there’s plenty of time to shuffle the deck.
Asa Turner is skinny. So what?
Freshman safety Asa Turner is officially listed at 6-3 and 187 pounds; he has the frame of a scarecrow with 5 percent body fat and flowing blond locks.
Regardless, the lanky defensive back from Carlsbad, Calif., has impressed thus far in his first fall camp, snaring multiple interceptions in an uphill push for playing time. To this point, he has practiced most often alongside fellow freshman Kamren Fabiculanan with the third-team defense.
Last week, Lake said he expects Turner to gain weight — eventually. But despite the numbers next to his name on the roster, it’s most important that he produce.
“He’ll continue to get bigger,” Lake said. “Like I told him when we were recruiting him, he’s naturally going to get bigger. He’s still growing into a grown man. I think at the end of the day he’s going to be a 215-, 218-pound guy. I think that’s what he’s going to be. I’m not sure what he is at this point. I know he’s in the upper 190s.
“But we’re not going to worry about that. Stay athletic. Stay fast. The weight’s going to come on naturally. He doesn’t need to force-feed himself to gain weight. It’s going to happen naturally.”
Assessing tight end depth
Washington junior tight end Jacob Kizer has yet to practice in fall camp with a back injury. That leaves four healthy scholarship tight ends — junior Hunter Bryant, sophomores Cade Otton and converted offensive lineman Corey Luciano and redshirt freshman Devin Culp — to split the available reps.
In an offense that operates often with multiple tight ends, is four too few?
“Depth at tight end is always a concern, because we like to use those guys and we probably don’t have enough,” coach Chris Petersen said. “It’s a physical position and you’re always one guy from now making this really, really thin.
“So depth I never feel good about there. Those guys are doing a nice job. That’s a complicated position, and I like the growth there. But depth-wise, we would like to have more there.”
Irvin is ‘banged up’
Petersen confirmed on Sunday that redshirt freshman defensive back Julius Irvin is dealing with an undisclosed injury.
“Julius is a little banged-up right now,” Petersen said. “He is dealing with an injury. We’ll report on all that stuff later.
“My thing on that is always going to be, if there’s something to report long-term we’ll let you guys know. And if there’s not, (he’s) week-to-week.”
In four games last season, the 6-1, 191-pound Irvin made one tackle. He was limited throughout the spring with a shoulder issue, but participated fully — most often as a nickelback with the third-team defense — during the five August practices that were open to the media. It was expected that he would push for a more significant role this fall.
But, at least for now, suffice to say that he’s week-to-week.