The Huskies will begin spring football practice on April 9, and of course there's no better time for optimism. And while the schedule projects as a killer, there does seem to be optimism around the UW coaches office that this will be an improved football team.
A few things I've heard recently:
* The prime reason for high hopes come in the form of redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Locker, and all indications are that he is up to the expectations. From all I've heard, this is a really special player. And there also is every indication that the UW offense will allow him to play to his special talents. The coaching staff is saying that they will not try to protect him mentally by limiting the offense or protect him physically by limiting his running.
*One of the guys charged with protecting Locker -- and opening holes for him -- will be Jordan White-Frisbee, the converted defensive tackle who is now projected as a powerful guard on what could be a massive UW offensive line.
*One concern heading into spring is the lack of depth behind Locker at quarterback. Carl Bonnell has been cleared for only limited work, but that should be OK in the protected environment of spring. Johnny DuRocher is playing baseball. And that leaves only incoming scholarship freshman Ronnie Fouch (Redlands, Calif.) and walkon Chandler Clemons (El Dorado Hills, Calif.). Fortunately, both already have enrolled and will participate in spring drills. Fouch is considered a potential player down the road, while Clemons projects as more of a camp arm in the Felix Sweetman mold.
*Other newcomers already on campus are punter Jared Ballman (San Diego, Calif.) and linebacker Austin Sylvester (Reno, Nev.)
*Another specialist, redshirt freshman Ryan Perkins, is apparently recovering well from the injury that cost him all of last season. He will be needed as UW will need to replace both its kicker and punter from last season.
*Word is that high-potential receier Marcel Reece is down to a more managable 235-240 pounds and pointed toward what UW hopes is a breakthrough senior season.
*The spring game will be held Saturday, April 28.
*Another look ahead to spring is available at the UW football Web site.
*And finally, look for more detailed reports on this blog and in The News Tribune than has been possible in previous springs. Apparently, coach Tyrone Willingham has decided to allow the media to watch about a third to a half of the practices this spring.