Nobody wants to be "Mr. April" in college football.
Receiver Jordan Polk came out of spring ball in 2009 as one of the talks of the team. He was making electrifying plays in the flat. He possessed a skill set no other wideout on the team had – shiftiness with the ability to fly down the field if he found a crease.
And in the first game against Louisiana State last September, he was in the starting lineup opposite James Johnson.
It set up to be a stellar year.
It turned out to be nothing of the sort.
Polk ended up with only five receptions for the season – ninth on the team – and never got into the end zone. He never developed into the intermediate-route threat coach Steve Sarkisian envisioned, and eventually fell out of the rotation.
Part of the problem was injuries – torn cartilage in the knee, then a concussion. The rest of it, Polk admitted Tuesday, was just him.
" I pretty much knew where it went wrong, and what had happened," Polk said. "Last year, I kind of got caught up in doing my own thing, and that got me in trouble. It kind of hurt us – and me, myself."
"Playing fast," he said. "I wasn't playing fast."
There were some off-the-field family issues the Portland native had to tend to as well – things he now says have been remedied.
Spring camp hasn't been entirely smooth-sailing. On the first Saturday, he strained a hamstring when a teammate stepped on his foot during a pass play.
He's been fighting through it. Last Saturday, he looked like the Polk of old – the one of last April – in hauling down a few passes, making a few moves and most importantly, making defenders miss.
"What's been difficult for Jordan is - when you're not practicing, we're not seeing you," Sarkisian said. "We don't see you on the field and we don't see you on the film, so you can get lost. And it happened to him early in spring ball when his hamstring tightened up on him. To his credit, he battled through and was able to go in the scrimmage and came out and did it again today.
"I've been really proud of Jordan, because he's fighting to get back out on the field, and that's the right mentality to have."
• On the injury front, receiver D'Andre Goodwin (hamstring) and cornerback Desmond Trufant (groin), and receiver Cody Bruns (concussion) and running back Chris Polk (shoulder) did some light work.
Sarkisian … on Goodwin: "He didn't have it all offseason. We did some tough running – hard running. For whatever reason, it's come to light. We've done the same stretching routine that we do when we do our conditioning program as we do on the field now. It just came up, you know."
Sarkisian … on Trufant: " we're not pushing him real hard. We've got good depth at the (cornerback) spot, and I want to make sure he is 100 percent before we get him back out here. His deal is not about what Tru can do, it's about making sure he is healthy as we hit this offseason and into the fall camp. I'm not sure what we'll get out of him. Hopefully we'll get something in the last two weeks or so. We'll see."
Defensive tackle Cameron Elisara "strained" his left knee during a goal-line defensive drill, tried returning and eventually ended practice with an ice bag taped around his knee. He indicated the injury wasn't serious.
Reserve offensive lineman Gregory Christine appeared to injure his left leg or foot. He limped off early in practice. Ryan Tolar did most of the snapping as the No. 2 center Tuesday.
• Sure looked like newcomer Nick Montana was getting more snaps than Keith Price in the quarterback rotation as the backup behind Jake Locker. Sarkisian said he wasn't "worried about" naming a No. 2 guy.
• Newcomers Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper, and Johri Fogerson were taking all the snaps with the first-string offense. That might signal an end to Demitrius Bronson's days as a tailback.
"(Bronson) is getting a look at fullback right now," Sarkisian said.
• Sarkisian reviewed the film of the first scrimmage Saturday, which went on about 30 minutes or so. Here was his assessment:
"Some things were good," he said. "I thought our effort could be better, and we could play with more of a relentless effort where our guys are really playing with their hair on fire."
Sarkisian singled out safety Nate Fellner and linebacker Matt Houston as having especially good spring-scrimmage outings.
• Notes: Appears Tim Tucker is no longer a long-snapping participant. Fullback Kimo Makaula has joined the fray with starter Brendan Lopez and backup Kavario Middleton. … Cooper had a breakaway long run up the middle Tuesday, only to be unintentionally thwarted by cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin. … Montana showed great touch on a 40-yard completion to William Chandler. … A few on Lincoln High's football team, including coaches, were visitors at practice.