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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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June 7, 2008 4:09 PM

Rayford impresses in B.C., more

Posted by Bob Condotta

Wow, this could be an entirely Jake Locker-playing-baseball-free post as we look at a few other happenings concerning UW football and the Pac-10.

--- First is this story from Vancouver on former Huskies Caesar Rayford and Brandon Ala, now playing for the B.C. Lions. Rayford is trying to make the team as a rookie free agent, and it sounds as if he's on his way, drawing raves from coaches --- a development likely drawing a few sighs of what-might-have-been from a lot of you who are well aware the Huskies could really use a fifth-year DE right about now. Rayford discusses the redshirt issue in the story, saying again that he was fully on board to play in 2004. Just think how bad that team would have been if he hadn't played.

--- Here's another of what figure to be about 1,890 listings of Tyrone Willingham having the hottest coaching seat in the country, this one from The Tennessean. Nothing new said here about Willingham, but interesting to see the rest of the names on the list. We remain on red alert for the first such list that doesn't lead off with Willingham.

--- Jon Wilner presents this overview of the Pac-10's non-conference schedules this season, praising the conference for again scheduling tough. That may not mean much, however, come November when every team other than USC has four losses and the conference is taking its annual slings from the rest of the country. Interesting to see he rates UCLA as having the toughest schedule in the Pac-10 --- I had it USC, UW then UCLA when I did rankings a while ago. But he's got a good point when you consider how good Fresno State may be (and the fact that it will be easy for a lot of Bulldog fans to get to the Rose Bowl for that one).

--- Pete Fiutak of answers his mail, and in one question states that "Washington will never win another national title in our lifetime.'' Of course Fiutak doesn't say how old "we'' all are. If "we'' are all 98, then this isn't really bad news for the Huskies. If "we'' are all 3, then this may indeed be ominous. But without stating any reasons for his, uh, reasoning, this statement has about as much meaning as the lyrics to "Tequila.'' Later, Fiutak says that Don James and Steve Emtman are the coach and player who best symbolize the face of UW football. Hard to argue with that, though I still think no Husky player was ever as popular in his time as Sonny Sixkiller (though Locker could give him a run for the money eventually).

--- Cal coach Jeff Tedford is starting up his own blog. Hey coach, we don't need any more competition.

All for now.

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June 7, 2008 3:08 PM

A little bit more on Locker and baseball

Posted by Bob Condotta

It's Saturday afternoon as I type this, and from what I understand, Jake Locker has probably just completed his first full practice with the Bellingham Bells.

Coach Brandon Newell said last night the plan was for the team to practice today --- most of players just got to town in the last day or so --- before returning to the field for another game tonight.

Newell and others with the Bells say they realize some Husky football fans are nervous about Locker potentially getting hurt playing baseball.

Bells general manager Dave Lewis joked that "every time I speak to a Rotary club, there's one guy who stands up and asks that.''

Newell said he talked with UW coach Tyrone Willingham about the situation before Locker was given the okay to play. "The number one thing that happened was I made Jake go talk with coach Willingham before this start and get his blessing,'' Newell said.

Newell also said he thinks Locker's summer baseball playing could help on the football field this fall.

"He's a competitor,'' Newell said. "All they (UW football coaches) cared about is that their best competitor gets to compete for two more months out of the year, and that is going to make him a better football player.''

Locker insisted again he will play it as safe as possible. Though Bellingham's pitching got rocked repeatedly Friday, Locker said afterward that didn't make him want to take the mound --- he promised he wouldn't pitch as a condition of getting the okay to play. "No,'' he said with a smile. "I'm happy where I'm at.''

Locker also said the headfirst slide into third in the fourth inning was safer than it would have been going in with his feet.

"I figured if I slide that way, it's not my ankle, not (any chance of) catching my ankle,'' he said.

Still, I think Locker's baseball foray may be a bit more intense than UW coaches initially anticipated. When first asked about it last winter, Willingham said Locker's number of potential games "sounds like it's a very minimal number. ... we came to an understanding that this was a very minimal number of games.''

Newell, meanwhile, said he thinks Locker may play as many as 35 of the team's 52 games. Locker is non-committal, saying he will evaluate his schedule every week and decide which ones to play, working it around football commitments.

Watching Friday night, it seemed evident Locker will try to play as much as possible. Despite the 11-1 loss, he was obviously having a good time throughout. He hung out afterward for 10-15 minutes or so signing autographs, posing for pictures and saying hello to a lot of familiar faces. That's not to mention leading the "Happy Birthday'' singalong to his grandmother, Barbara.

He also showed a lot of ability, from the rocket double, to the easy catches, to the throw to third that almost nabbed a runner (the throw bounced once and proved too hot to handle for the third baseman).

"I had a good time,'' he said. "I really enjoyed it.''

As I mentioned earlier, it's not in the plans to get to many more games, if any. But I'll try to keep you abreast of all of his baseball activities this summer as best I can.

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June 7, 2008 12:46 AM

Locker-baseball story

Posted by Bob Condotta

Just back from Bellingham, but wanted to pass along the on-line story on the game tonight, which also includes a few pictures.

Here also is the Bellingham Herald report on the game.

I may attempt to attend another one or two of Locker's baseball games, but this could be it. Regardless, I'll try to keep you up-to-date here as best I can as to his baseball activities the rest of the summer.

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