Bonnell Thrives As Mentor and Understudy

Nov. 16, 2007

By Nicholas Trost

With over 4,300 yards passing, 43 touchdowns, and leading his teamto a 37-4 record, Carl Bonnell proved at Kentwood High School he couldplay football. Bonnell took his talents to Washington State, where hespent his first three months of college grey-shirting and waiting for ascholarship. He eventually decided to transfer to cross-state rivalWashington, where he hoped to win the starting QB job.

But instead he has spent most of his college career as a backup. Hehas been relegated to being the understudy to first Casey Paus, thenIsaiah Stanback and now Jake Locker.

It seemed that Bonnell was left in the dark. Some athletes in hisposition might get bitter in a similar situation. But not Carl Bonnell. Notthis team-first attitude athlete.

Instead, Bonnell has been a positive influence since the first day heput on the Washington uniform. This season, his role has been to helpLocker move into his starting job and the redshirt-freshman is grateful tohave Bonnell on his side.

'He is not the kind of guy that is trying to sabotage me so that hegets a chance to play,' says Locker. 'He just wants to win, so he helpsme at every opportunity he gets, and I really appreciate having him onthe sidelines.'

Bonnell and Locker have a relationship that is essential for a startingquarterback and his back up to have. Bonnell plays the role of theveteran tutor sharing his wealth of knowledge to the talented, youngup-and-coming star.

'I have been like an older brother to Jake,' says Bonnell. 'Jake issuch a great guy. He is just very gifted and talented as a quarterbackand it is fun being with him and helping him along.'

Bonnell truly has thrived in his role. For him it is all about the team'ssuccess, not all of the fame and whatever else comes with the playingthe quarterback position. This attitude has people turning their heads,and not just Locker. Offensive coordinator Tim Lappano has taken noteof the great attitude that Bonnell brings with him each and every day.

'He is an awesome kid and he is the epitome of a team player,' saysLappano, who also coaches the quarterbacks. 'He helps Jake a lot,whether it is film study or on the sidelines. He supports him and that iswhat it is all about.'

Bonnell's positive attitude masks the frustrations that he may have.Bonnell has started seven games during his career, including five gameslast season, and knows he can still do it at a high level.

But, Locker was named the starter in spring and Bonnell wasrelegated back to the bench. The time off has allowed him to fullyrecover from a shoulder injury and he is more than ready to get back outon the field. But yet, he still must wait for his opportunity.

'I felt like I was playing really well (in fall camp),' says Bonnell 'Iwas coming off of my shoulder injury and I was battling and doing mybest to get the starting job.

'But, it's Jake's job and the coaches made that pretty clear early on.At first it was frustrating, but my main focus this year has been to haveas much fun as possible.'

Last Saturday against Oregon State, Bonnell got the chance hewanted, just not under the circumstances that he wanted to get it.Locker was taken off the field by an ambulance in the second quarterafter a blow to the helmet, and Bonnell was thrown right back into thefire.

Bonnell entered the game with a 13-0 deficit and with the Huskiesin shock after seeing their leader fall. But like a savvy veteran, Bonnellcame off the bench to complete 10-of-25 passes for 233 yards and twotouchdowns. He almost led the Huskies to a come-from-behind victory,but Oregon State was able to hold on for a 29-23 victory.

If Locker is unable to play in any of the final three games of theseason, the Huskies are still in good hands with Bonnell. He proved thatin the 2006 Apple Cup, his last career start.

With the Huskies mired in a six-game losing streak, including twofrustrating overtime losses at the hands of California and Arizona State,Bonnell went into Pullman and led the Huskies to a 35-32 victory.

'The Washington State win was especially gratifying,' says Bonnellabout beating his former team. 'Being in that position and replacingIsaiah, who was loved by this entire community, I knew that I couldn'treally fill his shoes. I really can't do what he can do. We are differenttypes of athletes. I wanted to go out there and play as hard as I can andtry to give our chance a team to win.'

When given the chance, Bonnell has succeeded. While he may notrun like Stanback or Locker, he has shown the propensity for producingbig plays.

Last season at California, he forced overtime by completing a 40-yardHail Mary pass to Marlon Wood in the end zone. Against WashingtonState, he connected with Cody Ellis for a 64-yard TD and Marcel Reecefor a 69-yard score. And last weekend in Corvallis, Bonnell hit AnthonyRusso for a 41-yard touchdown and Ellis for an 86-yard score, which isthe fourth longest pass play in Husky history.

If it is those moments of glory that cement to Bonnell that waiting inthe wings is worthwhile, it is the selfless comment made by Locker lastSaturday that cements Bonnell's importance to the Huskies.

Bonnell told the Seattle Times that Locker told him `he felt like he letthe team down' after the Huskies had lost to Oregon State. In a personalmoment of adversity, Locker instead thought of the team. It is the kindof attitude that Bonnell has exemplified for the last four years. It is the kind of attitude that can help the team, whether it comes from a starteror a back up.

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