On two sides of Kavario Middleton’s neck, located behind both ear lobes, are bantam-size tattoos – written in Chinese Kanji characters.
“Without fear,” said the University of Washington tight end from Lakes High School.
The fact Middleton got the ink two months ago at about the same time news broke he would enter UW spring camp as the team’s new but inexperienced backup long-snapper was a mere coincidence, he insists.
Or just good timing.
It won’t just be five weeks of catching passes from Jake Locker, or going over run-blocking assignments. A good part of Middleton’s two-hour sessions will be spent learning an unfamiliar trade.
“Guys at the next level are able to do multiple things,” Middleton said after UW’s second spring practice Thursday. “They want me to expand my horizons.”
Gone is Danny Morovick, the Huskies’ four-year long-snapper who played in 49 career games.
Brendan Lopez, a transfer from Michigan where fellow Bellevue High product Steve Schilling still plays, is now the projected starter. Middleton and linebacker Tim Tucker are Lopez’s backups.
“We’re just trying to get better, that’s the first thing,” Lopez said. “Those guys are inexperienced, but they’re getting better every day. Honestly, right now, it’s just about helping them.”
Coaches approached Middleton midseason 2009 about fiddling around with long-snapping. Before games at Oregon State and UCLA, the junior made his way to the field early and tried it.
And he’s continued to work hard at it with tight ends coach Brent Miller, who was a long-snapper himself at Arizona State.
“It is really hard,” Middleton said with a smirk. “Being a tall guy (6-foot-6), it’s about keeping your butt low when you’re down there, and snapping the ball back there as hard as you can.”
Sometimes it looks picture-perfect. But once Tuesday, Middleton got so much extension on a snap, he air-mailed the ball over Tucker’s head.
“First thing, he’s got long arms,” Lopez said of Middleton. “He’s got a lot of leverage to throw the ball back there. The biggest thing with snapping, you have to be really flexible, and if you’re not used to that over a long period of time … the timing of it is hard.”
Middleton said one of the most difficult aspects of long-snapping has been delivering the ball with constant velocity.
“I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better,” Middleton said. “But I’m not really shooting the ball back there yet. To get that zip … they tell me I have to get my hips into it, whatever that means.”
The second day in football for Huskies basketball reserve Clarence Trent had its interesting moment. During a pass-rushing drill, he got into a tussle with left tackle Senio Kelemete – arguably the team’s meanest offensive lineman. Kelemete grabbed Trent’s facemask and threw him backward. Trent didn’t take it too kindly, and after the play, he jogged over to the quarterback-dummy and tapped on it, signaling he had reached his target. … Wilson High product Desmond Trufant (groin) continued to run up and down the sideline, this time at a little brisker pace than Tuesday, testing out his sore groin. He said he hopes to return sometime during the camp. … Former Seahawks coach Jim Mora was hanging around campus Thursday, attending a few meetings and spending time at practice. Mora is likely to do some broadcast work for the NFL Network and Fox Sports Network. … Former UW players Darrion Jones, Terrence Thomas and Daniel Teo-Nesheim were present for the two-hour session Thursday. … Also around was Lakes High’s Zach Banner, who watched many of the drills for offensive linemen. … Best catch of the day? Jordan Polk hauled in a pass in the right flat with one hand without missing stride. … Practice time Saturday is 1 p.m., and the practice is open to the public.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442