The Washington Huskies kicked off spring practice on a cold, windy morning on the east practice field outside Husky Stadium on Wednesday. In two hours in jerseys and shorts, Jimmy Lake’s team ran through drills and sprinkled in some light scrimmaging.
Here are a few observations from UW’s spring debut.
The quarterback competition
Sam Huard has arrived.
But don’t expect the five-star freshman and early enrollee to be handed a starting spot.
Unsurprisingly, Huard — the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder from Kennedy Catholic High School — worked with the third team in his first practice as a Husky on Wednesday. Redshirt sophomore Dylan Morris — the team’s returning starter — again got the starting reps, while sixth-year senior and Colorado State graduate transfer Patrick O’Brien worked with the second team.
Morris made the most impressive connection of the day, hitting senior wide receiver Terrell Bynum on a perfectly placed deep fade to beat safety Cameron Williams for a 35-yard gain in an 11-on-11 scrimmage drill. He also threw one of two interceptions on the day, air-mailing wide receiver Rome Odunze with a pass that sailed right to cornerback James Smith. The other pick went to Huard, who failed to recognize outside linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui dropping into coverage on a short route.
Of course, very little can be gleaned from a single two-hour practice in T-shirts and shorts. But at the very least, Huard didn’t appear overmatched by the moment. The freshman’s arm strength and technique are evident. While Morris is the rightful favorite, and O’Brien brings the most experience of the bunch, expect this quarterback competition to last well into the fall.
It can be a challenge to identify starting groups in a series of non-contact drills. But on day one, here’s the way the Husky starters appeared to line up.
QB: Dylan Morris
RB: Sean McGrew OR Kamari Pleasant OR Cameron Davis (all three worked with the 1’s)
WR: Rome Odunze
WR: Jalen McMillan
WR: Terrell Bynum
TE: Cade Otton (plus Devin Culp in multiple tight end sets)
LT: Jaxson Kirkland
LG: Ulumoo “M.J.” Ale
C: Luke Wattenberg
RG: Henry Bainivalu
RT: Victor Curne
DL: Tuli Letuligasenoa
DL: Sam “Taki” Taimani
OLB: Zion Tupuola-Fetui
OLB: Ryan Bowman
ILB: Edefuan Ulofoshio
ILB: Jackson Sirmon
CB: Trent McDuffie
CB: Kyler Gordon
Nickel: Kamren Fabiculanan
S: Cameron Williams
S: Alex Cook OR Dominique Hampton (Asa Turner did not appear to participate in scrimmage drills.)
It’s worth noting that none of UW’s four transfer newcomers — quarterback Patrick O’Brien, nickelback Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles, wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk and outside linebacker Jeremiah Martin — practiced with the starters, which should come as no surprise. Each will have to earn that distinction at UW. Still, Radley-Hiles (who worked at nickel, as expected, on Wednesday) and Polk will likely work themselves into that conversation.
Juniors Julius Irvin and Dominique Hampton both worked at safety. That’s a logical move for the 6-2, 225-pound Hampton, who has continued to put on muscle since arriving as a 200-pound corner in 2018.
- The following players caught punts on Wednesday: cornerbacks Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon, and wide receivers Jalen McMillan, Rome Odunze and Taj Davis.
- The loudest play of the day was delivered by 210-pound redshirt freshman running back Jay’Veon Sunday, who barreled into safety Cameron Williams in a 7-on-7 drill that was intended to include minimal contact. After the practice, Lake lauded Sunday’s physicality and aggressive running style but joked that he cautioned Sunday to tone it down after the play. It will be interesting to see what Sunday — who did not appear in a game last season — looks like when defenders are allowed to (try to) tackle him.
- Sophomore inside linebacker Miki Ah You dropped an easy interception from Huard in a 7-on-7 drill.
- Redshirt freshman tight end Mason West did not practice Wednesday for an unspecified reason, but he did watch the proceedings from the sideline.