Husky Football Makes Strides During Spring

May 1, 2007

By Joshua Mayers
The Daily

Expectations are high for the Washington football program. The fans, players, coaches and even the nation are familiar with dominant Husky teams on the gridiron.

While the Huskies saw vast improvement from the 1-10 and 2-9 seasons in 2004 and 2005, coach Tyrone Willingham was emphatic during the spring season, saying that the time to become a bowl team is now.

When asked what the players got most out of the spring practices, Willingham said 'a sense of team.'

Much of the burden in becoming a winning program falls on the quarterback, and Jake Locker, the heralded recruit from Ferndale, Wash., has assumed the role of No. 1 quarterback.

The youngster has shown immeasurable promise, but also the inconsistency of inexperience.

'There's still things I need to work on; I'm not by any means ready to be an All-American quarterback frankly,' Locker said. 'I need to work on a lot of things over the summer, and that's what summer is for. I'm looking forward to that.'

While many on the team are excited with the talent and leadership the first-year quarterback brings, quarterback Carl Bonnell's play has spoken for itself.

The senior threw three touchdowns in the spring game, and he gives the UW a more-than-serviceable backup. The quarterback position is just one example of the team's superior depth and talent, compared to past years.

'I think we're playing better. We've got some young guys still, a young line, but we're making plays, and I don't think we did that last year,' Bonnell said.

Locker admitted that Bonnell's superior play has driven him to work harder.

'It's still a competition,' Locker said. 'He's just as capable of running this offense as I am. It keeps me working and driving to get better.'

Another position to keep an eye on is running back. While sophomore J.R. Hasty brings youth and an NFL pedigree to the Husky backfield, it has been senior Louis Rankin that has wowed coaches with his consistency.

'Rankin has had as nice a spring as we've seen a back have since I've been here,' defensive coordinator Kent Baer said.

As the No. 1 running back, Rankin said that instead of trying to make a big play on every carry, he worked hard to improve his blocking and hitting the hole.

'Louis has made big plays all spring for us,' offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said.

Another standout offensive is junior transfer student Marcel Reece. The 6-foot-3-inch, 240-pound man had three touchdown receptions in the spring game, and at times he looked unstoppable. Other offensive players that made names for themselves are guards Casey Bulyca and Morgan Rosborough and wide receiver Corey Williams.

On defense, the strength appears to be at the linebacker positions. Senior Dan Howell leads the group, but Donald Butler and E.J. Savannah have more than held their own in the spring season.

'We were really young in certain areas, I think we got some experience [in the spring],' Savannah said. 'I think a lot of players are going to grow from the spring and become better players.'

With only eight defensive backs on the roster right now, Baer admitted that the Huskies will need help from some of the incoming freshmen. Other defenders that stood out this spring are defensive end Caesar Rayford and safety Jason Wells.

Now it's time to hit the weights again, and Willingham told his team to prepare for the summer offseason.

'The message is quite simple: good spring, good spring game, now we start again,' he said.

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