Jacob Kizer and Isaiah Gilchrist are still enrolled at the University of Washington.
But you won’t see them inside Husky Stadium anytime soon.
UW head coach Jimmy Lake announced on Friday that Kizer — a true senior tight end — and Gilchrist — a fifth-year senior defensive back — have decided to opt out of the 2020 season. Like everybody else, their eligibility will not be impacted and have the option to return in 2021.
“It was (due to) concerns with COVID, which we completely understand,” Lake said. “That’s gone across all of college football and even in the National Football League. We respect those guys’ decision. We know this is obviously an extraordinary year, with valid concerns. Those two young men have concerns and we respect their decisions and we’re here to support them.”
In three seasons at UW, Kizer — a 6-foot-5, 254-pound senior from Salem, Oregon — has played in 33 games and registered three catches for 25 yards. He was expected to add experienced depth and blocking ability to a tight ends room that includes junior Cade Otton, redshirt sophomore Devin Culp and true freshmen Mark Redman, Jack Yary and Mason West. Considering the importance of the tight end in first-year offensive coordinator John Donovan’s pro-style scheme, Kizer’s absence could prove significant in UW’s seven-game season.
Gilchrist has appeared in just 12 games in four seasons and logged eight total tackles. The 5-11, 208-pound DB was considered a four-star recruit by 247Sports.com when he signed with Washington out of Bellevue High School in 2016.
QB depth chart questions
Unsurprisingly, Lake was asked Friday — following the first practice of UW’s more traditional fall camp — if he could divulge a quarterback depth chart.
His answer: “No.”
When asked if the Huskies’ four scholarship signal callers — graduate student Kevin Thomson, redshirt sophomore Jacob Sirmon, redshirt freshman Dylan Morris and true freshman Ethan Garbers — are receiving equal reps, Lake also responded without entirely answering the question.
“All of those guys are getting reps,” he said. “The top four guys are getting reps, which are the three young guys that are on scholarship and then our transfer, Kevin. So those guys are all getting reps. It’s fun to watch those guys make plays, make some mistakes. That’s part of practice, and we have a whole training camp here to get those guys dialed in for game one. It’s going to be fun to watch that competition play itself out.”
But until it does, fans and media members will likely have more questions than answers.
COVID-19 testing procedure
Lake provided more detail Friday as to how his players receive daily rapid-results COVID-19 testing.
“Obviously we don’t want all 115 guys coming in (to get tested) at one time, so we flight the guys (arrive in flights or small groups) in here in the morning,” he explained. “As they enter the building, we swab them. They put it in the tube, and it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get the results back. While they’re in the building we’re always social distancing with our mask on. So we have low contact throughout the building, whenever we’re in the building.
“So if we did end up getting somebody that tested positive, we wouldn’t have to quarantine anybody because there’s a low contact (situation throughout the day). They’re always mask-on and everybody’s away from each other. So that process has gone extremely well.”
Besides the daily antigen point-of-care testing, Lake added that his players also receive more sensitive PCR tests “three to four times a week.”
Detailing the young DBs
Athletically, Kyler Gordon has few legitimate limitations. In the 2019 Husky Combine, Gordon led the team with a 42.5-inch vertical jump, while also finishing top-three in the three-cone drill (second, 6.52 seconds), pro agility drill (second, 3.87 seconds) and broad jump (third, 10-5). The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman ranked Gordon 14th nationally in his annual “college football freaks list.”
In 13 games and four starts as a redshirt freshman last season, the 6-0, 195-pound DB from Mukilteo recorded 32 tackles and four passes defended — earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors with limited opportunities.
And yet, UW’s profound secondary depth presents a kind of problem. With the Huskies’ starting corners (Trent McDuffie and Keith Taylor) and nickelback (Elijah Molden) all returning, what’s the best way to utilize Gordon’s athleticism on the field?
“Kyler can play corner and nickel,” Lake said. “We could put him back at safety. He’s that athletic and that tough. Last year he was our special-teams player of the year, and I expect him to contribute a ton in our return game and in our coverage units and also on defense.
“That defensive backfield, though, is stacked with a lot of players that have played some football, and it’s going to be competitive. We’ve got some young guys in there that are really good football players. So there’s no certain positions that are just inked in, saying, ‘OK, this is the guy.’ We have four weeks here to figure out who those guys are going to be.”
Two more of those guys could be redshirt sophomore Dominique Hampton and true sophomore Asa Turner. It’s worth noting that Turner (6-3, 200) added 13 pounds of muscle this offseason, while Hampton (6-2, 220) bulked up by 12 pounds as well.
As a true freshman, Turner found the field at nickelback and safety and finished with 19 tackles, two tackles for loss and one interception (in 12 games and five starts) while seeming to settle in at safety. Hampton appeared in 15 games at corner in his first two seasons at UW.
“Both of those guys had really good offseasons,” Lake said. “And just naturally, going from true freshmen to sophomores and being in our training regimen, even with two-and-a-half months of not actually being physically here with us, they were going to put on some weight.
“They look great. They’re moving around great, and they’re going to continue to put some weight on here. They’re still two young guys that we’re really excited about, and I can’t wait to watch those guys continue to grow.”
Could players’ parents attend games?
Though the Pac-12 announced last month that its revived fall season will not include fan attendance, it remains possible that players’ parents and/or family members could be allowed inside stadiums to attend games.
Lake affirmed that “I think the first people that should be able to watch the game would be the parents of our players. Everything that I have heard is that we are working to get the parents of our players to be able to watch our games in person, but I don’t know the outcome of that yet. But I know we are pushing for that outcome.”
- When asked which freshmen have impressed early on, Lake did an excellent job of unilaterally spotlighting essentially every position group. But he was perhaps most enthusiastic about the freshman outside linebackers, Sav’ell Smalls and Jordan Lolohea. “Their pass-rush moves and their get-off has really been different than I’ve seen around here the last couple years,” Lake said. “(Defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach Pete Kwiatkowski) is doing a great job with those guys.”