Walk-on from O’Dea makes presence felt for Huskies
TODD MILLES; Staff writer
Quietly – like the biggest cat of the litter tip-toeing his way – Daniel Kanczugowski has climbed the depth chart at offensive tackle for the University of Washington football team this spring.
The walk-on from O’Dea, who a year ago at this time switched from defense to offense, is the Huskies’ biggest lineman in spring drills – at 6-foot-4 and 313 pounds.
It’s hard to believe it took somebody this long to notice him.
But once UW coach Steve Sarkisian and offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto did, they’ve started to see how broad his skill set really is.
“He’s done some nice things in the run game for us,” Sarkisian said following practice Tuesday – the start of the team’s final week of spring ball.
“He’s continually working on his pass sets to get comfortable out there, but he does do some nice things, especially on the back side of the run game, to create some plays for us.”
On Saturday, Kanczugowski was somewhat of a surprise starter for the team’s first full-bore scrimmage.
“The competition is on,” Sarkisian said. “It’s not about what you did before. It’s not about a guy getting anointed anything. You’re going to earn your way on this team.”
In essence, with Senio Kelemete entrenched as a star-in-the-making at left tackle, and Cody Habben injured but the projected starter at right tackle, Kanczugowski is likely competing for the top reserve tackle spot with Skyler Fancher, who is more of a finesse blocker, and high school senior Erik Kohler, who won’t join the team until fall camp.
When asked about the waves he’s made this spring, Kanczugowski almost sounded dismissive.
“I don’t know. Cody’s hurt,” he said. “All I can say is I’m happy to run around spring ball and get reps.”
Kanczugowski wasn’t a known commodity coming out of O’Dea in 2008 because he played only defense. After graduation, he figured his future might be in another sport – rugby.
He had stints with the Seattle Vikings and the Pacific Northwest Rugby Football Union Loggers. He played in the tight head prop, or anchorman in the scrum.
“You can’t block in rugby,” Kanczugowski said. “But basically, (I was) the big guy.”
Waiting for an invitation for a national-team tryout, instead Kanczugowski was contacted by former UW assistant Chris Tormey about walking on at Washington.
When Sarkisian came on board a year later, he asked Kanczugowski to switch positions. The sophomore traveled with the team on two road trips in 2009 – UCLA and Oregon State.
As widely reported, UW president Mark Emmert accepted the position as NCAA president on Tuesday, a job he’ll start next November. “I think the NCAA is getting a good man and a bright guy that is going to lead the NCAA the way we all would hope it would get led,” Sarkisian said. “Obviously, we’re all going to miss him here, but I think he’s put the university in a great place.” … Lakes High wide receiver Jermaine Kearse gave coaches a brief scare Tuesday when he stayed on the turf in the east end zone after a pass during team drills. He limped off the field with a “tweaked” right ankle, the UW coach said. … Walk-on Jonathan Amosa made the switch from linebacker to fullback Tuesday. … Sarkisian called safety Will Shamburger “our most improved player this spring.” As a result, he elevated the redshirt sophomore to the first-string defense at free safety ahead of incumbent Nate Fellner.