A nice crowd showed up at Husky Stadium on a chilly spring Saturday to watch Washington’s football team scrimmage.
No doubt, some were drawn by the chance to see what young Nick Montana looked like, and maybe project his performance as a glimpse into the future of Husky football.
Those who were there with that in mind got more than what they bargained for.
Yes, Montana, who has been on campus two weeks in what could have been his final semester of high school, is the big name, of course. When your dad is Joe Montana, you probably get used to being the focus.
And Montana performed far better than anybody could have expected, according to his coach, Steve Sarkisian. After all, if he could have called the play, taken the snap and handed it off without falling down, it might be considered a positive day for somebody who has just parachuted in out of high school.
But Montana led his unit on one scoring drive during the scrimmage, with 4-for-5 passing accuracy during that possession. Perhaps the most impressive part of it was that he didn’t force anything, he didn’t get rattled … nothing but cool composure.
“He doesn’t make it look (that tough),” Sarkisian said, “To think this is his first two weeks of school, the first time he’s not lived at home, and his first six college football practices … he’s gone beyond what all of our expectations could be at this point.”
However, he had to share the coach’s admiration with a couple of freshmen running backs, Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier. Cooper scored on a draw play, and the elusive Callier faked out a number of defenders on several nice runs.
“I think they really ran great today,” quarterback Jake Locker said of the freshmen running backs. “They were really good in the open field and made guys miss. It was fun to watch them run around and hopefully they can keep progressing and get better.”
Locker looked exceptional in drills and in the scrimmage, during which he tossed a touchdown pass to Devin Aguilar. On one play in skeleton drills, Locker rolled to his right and fired a ball 50 or 60 yards downfield, against a brisk wind. The pass was incomplete, but if anybody wonders why he’s being touted as the first draft pick next year, this is one off the reasons.
Locker had a close look at Montana, too, and had his eyes opened just as Sarkisian did.
“I thought he did a good job,” Locker said. “It’s a difficult situation for a kid his age, and with all he’s faced with, to come in and do as well as he did today, and have an understanding of the offense he has at this point, I thought (he) was very impressive. He’s a confident player; he has confidence in his ability and you can see it in how he plays.”
The focus of the scrimmage, Sarkisian said, was to get a good look at Montana and redshirt freshman quarterback Keith Price, as well as Cooper and Callier.
If the Huskies had to play a game next week, those two running backs would be on the active roster, Sarkisian said.
“They’re making a lot of plays and they’re doing it in a variety of fashions,” Sarkisian said. “They’re running it well, they’re catching it well, they’re blocking pretty well, so I’m encouraged by them.”
Since freshmen aren’t open to media interviews after practice, Sarkisian and Locker had to speak for them.
But what they did during the scrimmage was appropriately eloquent.
So much can happen, and it’s foolish to make too much of a scrimmage early in spring practice. But if you’re open to speculating on the future of Husky football, at least right now, it looks to be in very good hands.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440