Huskies also have "high hopes" for redshirt freshman Ariel Ngata at outside linebacker.
The Huskies want more out of Tevis Bartlett, and the senior linebacker believes he’s capable of doing just that.
“Absolutely. We all want to play, right?” Bartlett said. “If you can get more in the action, that’s even better. I’d love to have more of the responsibility. Now I’ve just to go help my teammates and produce.”
In shifting Bartlett to inside linebacker, Washington coaches have indeed given more him more responsibilities and put him in better position to have a great influence on the defense, to be around the ball more.
“He’s one of the smartest guys we have … and I think he helps our overall defense inside and it helps him, maybe his skillset even more,” UW coach Chris Petersen said. “I’m excited to see how this one progresses.”
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As a starting outside linebacker in 2017, Bartlett had 48 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and a team-high 12 tackles for loss. This spring, he moved to weakside linebacker, replacing the graduated Keishawn Bierria — now in his first NFL training camp with the Denver Broncos — and will play alongside returning middle linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven in an all-senior inside combination.
During the offseason, the 6-foot-3, 233-pound Bartlett studied film with linebackers coach Bob Gregory, and studied more on his own of how Bierria and Azeem Victor manned the position the past two seasons.
“I’m still working through (some details). Like today, there was a play when I needed to sit back on RPO and was playing the run a little too fast,” Bartlett said over the weekend. “Just things like that, getting more reps at it and watching more film, and then it will become second-nature. Once we get there, we’ll be in good shape.”
The Huskies have limited depth inside — and they got even thinner when five-star freshman linebacker Ale Kaho asked for his release from the program.
Junior DJ Beavers, held out of spring ball with various injuries, is back working with the No. 2 defense, along with senior walk-ons Matt Preston and Jake Wambaugh. Junior Brandon Wellington, the former Eastside Catholic star, has been going through some position drills, but he’s still limited after having surgery to repair a torn ACL late last fall.
‘High hopes’ for Ngata
Sophomore Amandre Williams, the Tahoma High product, is the new No. 1 strong-side linebacker, having studied under Bartlett there last season. Sophomore Myles Rice has been working with the second-team defense at SAM.
“It was cool to learn from someone like Tevis Bartlett. He’s a big mentor of mine. He’s real smart and I’m just taking in every little thing he has to say,” Williams said.
Sophomore Ryan Bowman and junior Benning Potoa’e are 1-2 at the other outside linebacker spot (Buck). Two intriguing up-and-comers are redshirt freshmen Joe Tryon — listed at 6-feet-5 and 267 pounds — and Ariel Ngata, long and lean at 6-2 and 217 pounds.
“There’s going to be a role for all those guys,” said co-defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski, who coaches the outside linebackers. “We’ve got good depth, and all those guys are hungry. They all want to play. It’s going to all work itself out in these next 20-something practices.”
Ngata has at times feasted on the third-team offensive line through three fall-camp practices.
“He’s really quick, fast, twitchy,” Kwiatkowski said. “He’s going against some younger guys (on the offensive line) and he was working them pretty good. It’s going to be interesting to see how he does when he gets the pads on. I know he cares — he cares about it and wants to be really good. We’ve got high hopes for him.”