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

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August 4, 2008 10:41 PM

More thoughts on Savannah

Posted by Bob Condotta

Seemed like a real whirlwind there for a while today with lots of personnel news left and right, as is often the case on the first day of practice.

Assuming all of the high school guys become eligible eventually --- and that we already knew about Craig Noble, the one of that quartet who was probably being counted on the most this year --- the biggest news could end up being that involving E.J. Savannah.

We knew he was a longshot to be ready for the start of the season due to injury. What became clearer today is that the issues that dogged him last year in terms of academics and other more unspecified stuff are still there, meaning it's hard to know right now what his future is as a Husky.

And make no mistake, he figured to have quite a role in the Husky defense this season after leading the team with 111 tackles last year. After his standout performance in the spring game, coaches raved about him and he raved about the new system (read this story here if you need a refresher).

It was the return of Savannah, as well as a handful of other experienced LBs, that had a lot of people speculating UW might go with a 3-4 defense at times this season, in part to make up for the lack of experience up front. The Huskies still might, though they were only in a 4-3 today (though I wouldn't have expected anything else given that they knew this practice was open to the media, which could be the only one).

But obviously having Savannah around would make a 3-4 easier to implement, and maybe more effective.

I asked UW defensive coordinator Ed Donatell today if not having Savannah will change his plans. He admitted it could, while adding he has no idea how long Savannah will be out.

"We always like to look at the strongest players we have in a system and feature them and bring out their strengths because it's more mental pressure to the opponent,'' he said. "But since I've been coaching we've had setbacks all the time. Right now, it's like he's sprained his ankle and he can't play.''

And Donatell said not having Savannah for however long may simply open the door for someone else to become a defensive leader.

"Don James used to talk about a guy they had at Kent State named Bob Bender,'' Donatell said recalling James' early-70s stint as head coach at Kent State before coming to UW in 1975. "Everybody thought he was the greatest thing they'd ever had. Then he decided not to play football and they said 'oh no, we can't line up without this guy' And they had this tall skinny guy take his place, 208 pounds. His name was Jack Lambert. The rest is history. Sometimes there are guys like that, you just don't know.

"So we are looking at it as an opportunity to develop depth and if he makes it back, we will have those things ready for him. If not, we will go another direction.''

I hadn't heard the Bender-Lambert story --- and yes, it's kind of ironic that it's the same name as the former UW hoops coach --- but it's corroborated in this article on Lambert from Sports Illustrated in 1984.

So maybe Josh Gage becomes the next Jack Lambert. Hey, on the first day of practice, anything seems possible. Certainly, you wouldn't expect the coaches to view it any other way.

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August 4, 2008 7:17 PM

First-day wrapup

Posted by Bob Condotta

A few more notes and thoughts as we wrap up the first day of practice:

--- Jake Locker looked really good throwing the ball today. Just about every pass seemed on the money and he gave every reason to believe his statements that he thinks a year of maturity and comfort in the offense will improve his accuracy quite a bit. He appeared to have more touch on his passes, putting more air under them. Obviously, it doesn't count until Aug. 30, but this was a good first day for him.

--- To make clear what Juan Garcia did today, he took part in the early warm-up sessions, then stayed to the side for the rest of practice, often working on conditioning on his own. In other words, he didn't do a lot and shouldn't in any way be penciled in as back in the lineup or anything. That seemed clear with Ryan Tolar taking a lot of snaps at center with the No. 2 unit, making it obvious the coaches are working on plans in case Garcia can't make it back.

--- The best of the true freshmen WRs today was Cody Bruns, who made several nice catches, including one near the sideline on a 25-yard-or-so fade route from Ronnie Fouch. Fouch, by the way. wasn't as accurate as I'm sure he would have liked, looking like he was still struggling a little bit with his accuracy issues of the spring. Locker and Fouch took almost every snap at QB.

--- Jermaine Kearse also had one nice play, beating Mesphin Forrester for a TD in a goal-line drill on a pass from Fouch. Kearse, however, also had a couple of drops.

--- The best WR of the day otherwise might have been walk-on senior Charles Hawkins, who a bunch of nice catches, including about a 40-yarder from Fouch.

--- The most noticable of the new RBs was David Freeman, who looked really quick running through traffic. But again, this was a no pads, no contact day.

--- Incoming OL Mykenna Ikehara appeared to be playing at center, and drew a lot of oohs and ahs for a standoff with Cameron Elisara in a one-on-one drill.

--- The coaches were already in mid-season form intensity-wise. At one point, when Anthony Boyles didn't run the right route, Tim Lappano yelled "14 yards'' loud enough to be heard in the upper reaches of Husky Stadium. At another point, OL coach Mike Denbrock got on his unit for not hustling to the line fast enough and yelled "if you're scared, go home. If not, line your ($%^) up and get ready to play.''

--- Brandon Johnson looked just fine, working with the No. 1 unit throughout and making some nice cuts. Brandon Yakaboski was the No. 2 TB followed by Willie Griffin and Chris Polk. But that could be a real interchangeable spot this year as coach Tyrone Willingham said earlier at the press luncheon he would have no problem going with a committee. Polk spent the entire day at TB and we'll have to ask tomorrow if that means a switch in his position, or just getting him work there. He's still listed as a slotback.

--- UW has to find a new holder with Carl Bonnell gone. Candidates today appeared to be Fouch and Jared Ballman with Ryan Perkins also appearing to practice it once or twice.

--- Among those taking punt returns were Byron Davonport, D'Andre Goodwin, Johri Fogerson, Devin Aguilar, Matt Mosley and Vonzell McDowell.

--- Several of you have asked about Tripper Johnson, the walk-on from Newport who played eight years of minor league baseball. He worked today as the No. 2 free safety, splitting time with Jason Wells, who is being worked back into the lineup after his knee injury last season.

--- Among the new walk-ons are two sons of coaches --- Taylor Lappano, a defensive back from Eastlake, and Riley Gervais, a linebacker from Skyline.

--- We'll be back to our usual 25 minutes of practice access tomorrow, so there won't be as much info to report. But check back during the day as I'll update with notes and quotes from interview sessions, and whatever else transpires.

All for now.

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August 4, 2008 6:44 PM

Update on commits

Posted by Bob Condotta

Practice here has just ended and I'm finishing up stories and other duties and will have a little wrapup later for the blog.

In the meantime, Craig Smith of our staff got ahold of the newest Husky commit, Aaron Grymes, and filed this story:

Aaron Grymes of West Seattle High School has accepted a University of Washington scholarship offer and said the Huskies envision him as a cornerback.

Grymes became the second cornerback to commit to the Huskies Monday as Kenneth Pinkard of South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas also committed.

Grymes, who played safety, wide receiver, running back and even quarterback last season as a junior, said being a Husky "has been my dream since I was little.''

Grymes, 5 feet 11, 160 pounds, said the Huskies extended the scholarship offer Saturday and he accepted Monday. He said Boise State, Oregon and Idaho had shown interest in him but hadn’t offered.

"Since coming to the games as a little kid, I've wanted to play here,'' Grymes said.

The Huskies will be getting a capable student in the fall of 2009 as Grymes has a 3.5 grade point. He said he has passed the SAT.

"He’s got a real love for the game,'' said West Seattle coach Davis Lura. "He works hard and he’s also a good student.''

Pinkard is 6 feet, 180 pounds. Like Grymes, he was offered a scholarship Saturday in Seattle and accepted Monday.

Pinkard and Grymes are the second and third players to commit to the UW as part of the 2009 recruiting class. The first was quarterback Keith Price of St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, Calif.

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August 4, 2008 5:11 PM

Practice update three

Posted by Bob Condotta

Here's what appeared to be the defensive lineups when the Huskies went into full-squad work:

The defensive line was Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Cameron Elisara, De'Shon Matthews andn Darrion Jones. The second line was Kalani Aldrich, Tyrone Duncan (ends) Nick Wood and Johnie Kirton.

The starting LBs were Josh Gage, Mason Foster and Donald Butler with Matt Houston, Trenton Tuiasosopo and Cort Dennison.

The starting CBs were Mesphin Forrester and Quinton Richardson with Byron Davenport and Vonzell McDowell workins as the twos.

The safeties were Victor Aiyewa and Nate Williams with Tripper Johnson and Darin Harris as the bacakups. Jason Wells worked with the third team.

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August 4, 2008 4:41 PM

Practice update

Posted by Bob Condotta

We're about an hour into the first practice and here are a few more notes and observtaions:

--- Once the Huskies broke into the full team part of practice, Juan Garcia stepped aside and did some conditioning work on his own. He seems to be limping a bit and looks to be aways away from participating in a full practice still.

--- Ryan Tolar is staking snaps at center, working with the second team behind Matt Sedillo. That had Jordan White-Frisbee working at left guard with the first team. Greg Christine was the No. 3 cfenter. So Tolar-to-center is definitely the move being made here to account for the Garcia situation.

--- Chris Polk is working out exclusivvely with the running backs so far, and was thte fourth tailback to take a handoff during the team drills behind Brandon Johnson, Brandon Yakaboski and Willie Griffin, in that order.

--- The starting WRs were D'Andre Goodwin and Alvin Logan and the backups were Curtis Shaw and Devin Aguilar.Anthony Boyles still looks pretty skinny.

--- UW has five QBs here with the addition of freshman Luther Leonard and walk-on Justin Gunn of Renton High to go with the three retuners.

More later.

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August 4, 2008 3:56 PM

Quick practice update

Posted by Bob Condotta

Here are a few quick notes from the opening moments of practice:

--- E.J. Savannah is here, but not in uniform. standing on the sideline and watching. He is not wearing a cast. That he is here would lead to the obvious belief that he could be on the team again this season. He shook hands with players as the linebackers came out for drills and is wearing a Husky shirt.

--- Juan Garcia is taking part in practice --- this is a no-pads practice with players in helmts, jerseys and shorts. But as has been said by others, there's a difference in his recovvery from just running aroundd to doing actual full-contact work, so while a lot looks good, nothing is as yet certain.

--- Chris Izabicki is here and participating.

I'll check back in with more from practice later.

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August 4, 2008 3:11 PM

A few more notes

Posted by Bob Condotta

Headed out to practice here soon, but here are a few more notes and quotes from today's press briefing:

--- Lots of personnel news today, including reports of UW's second and third commitments of the year, which could get lost in the shuffle on a day like this. and RealDawg. com are each reporting a commitment from cornerback Kenneth Pinkard of Texas while RealDawg is also reporting one from cornerback Aaron Grymes of West Seattle. Grymes was the offensive MVP of the Metro League last season.

--- Jake Locker said he worked as a counselor this summer at the Air 7 Camp with Steve Clarkson this summer. He said he worked a little on his footwork but as he has said earlier, his main thing has been learning the playbook so he can gain more confidence in where he is going with the ball, which he thinks will lead to more accuracy.

--- E.J. Savannah has been seen outside the media work room area having a discussion with UW coach Tyrone Willingham. Senio Kelemete has also been seen on campus today. As Willingham said earlier, these things could change in a day, so we'll see. But as Willingham noted, Savannah has multiple issues, academic, injury and otherwise, to make it back.

--- The Huskies look to be tighter than ever with media access this year. Three practices will be closed completely to the media this year --- all within the last nine days before the Oregon game --- without even the usual first 25 minutes of availability. At the moment, there is also just one practice open to the media, that coming today. The rest will be limited to 25 minutes.

More later.

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August 4, 2008 1:54 PM

Media day notes, Savannah academically ineligible

Posted by Bob Condotta

UW coach Tyrone Willingham met with the media for about 30 minutes or so today, then players also met with reporters for a while as the team kicked off the beginning of the season. The first practice will begin at 3:45 p.m. and will be open to the media.

Here are a few quick news and notes from the media session:

--- Willingham said that E.J. Savannah is academically ineligible but that there are also some other issues, saying that "when that is cured, we will at that time talk about his status with the team.'' Savannah is also still recovering from a broken humerus bone, and Willingham said he wouldn't be able to play right now, anyway. Willingham said he wouldn't give specifics on the other issues with Savannah but that "the parties involved know what they are.'' He labeled Savannah's suspension as "indefinite'' and that there is no timetable for his return. "Sometimes these things can change over night and sometimes they may be forever,'' he said. Willingham said the team's three starting LBs heading into practice are Donald Butler, Mason Foster and Josh Gage.

--- Willingham did not go into detail on any of the freshmen but said all are academic-related. Interestingly, the team has 101 players right now and can have no more than 105 this season. There are currently five players facing academic issues still apparently trying to get onto the roster for this season, meaning UW coaches may already be counting one of them out. Besides Savannah, the other four are freshmen Craig Noble, Demitrius Bronson, Senio Kelemete and Vince Taylor.

--- Willingham said the the recovery for Juan Garcia has gone as well as hoped so far but that it now takes on a different level with the start of practice. He said he didn't know when Garcia would be able to return to practice or when he might be able to play, saying the team would be "cautious'' with him.

--- He said Brandon Johnson and Jason Wells are recovered and ready to go, as is Ryan Tolar.

--- Chancellor Young returns with just one year of eligibility left. Offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said he thought Young could help immediately on special teams but that he would need to see more of him in camp to get a read on how much he would be able to help at receiver. Willingham said Young faced some academic issues, as well as some other unspecified issues, during his absence from the team ---- he was last with the team during the spring of 2006.

--- Asked if he expected the Huskies to play in a bowl game this season, Willingham simply said "yes'' and then took the next question. Some will likely make a big deal out of that, but I don't know what else he could say. He certainly can't say no.

--- Jake Locker also met with the media and said his goal for the season is to complete 65 percent of his passes. That would be a hefty increase from last year's 47 percent.

More later.

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August 4, 2008 1:36 PM

Izbicki faces two misdemeanor charges

Posted by Bob Condotta

UW redshirt freshman tight end Chris Izbicki was charged with two misdemeanor crimes today and will be arrainged in King County District Court in Burien on Aug. 14.

Izbicki was charged with criminal trespass in the second degree and minor in possession of liquor after an incident on July 20. Both took place while Izbicki was attending a concert --- the KUBE Summer Jam --- at the White River Amphiteater.

News of this leaked today after UW coach Tyrone Willingham held his press conference on campus so it is uncertain if Izbicki faces any punishment from the team. A graduate of Lake Washington High, he is contending for a backup spot behind starter Michael Gottlieb.

According to a police report, Izbicki was charged with criminal trespass for attempting to get into a restricted VIP area and failing to leave after being asked to do so twice. He was then given a breathalyzer test and recorded a reading of .241, resulting in the second charge.

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August 4, 2008 11:26 AM

Savannah, Taylor, Kelemete not on current roster

Posted by Bob Condotta

UW has released a new roster with the opening of camp today and among the names not on the roster are a few surprises --- LB E.J. Savannah as well as freshmen Senio Kelemete and Vince Taylor. Kelemete is a DL and Taylor a DB .

There is also one surprise addition --- WR Chancellor Young, who is listed as a senior walk-on.

We reported here a few weeks ago that there were other issues with Savannah aside from just his injury. We'll see if we get more details today, such as whether this is a permanent deletion or temporary.

It is assumed that Taylor and Kelemete have academic issues. Also not on the roster are the freshmen already known to have issues --- Craig Noble, Dominique Blackman and Demitrius Bronson.

More later.

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August 4, 2008 8:30 AM

Monday A.M. links

Posted by Bob Condotta

The official start of the season has almost arrived, and we'll have coverage here all day long.

We'll start by passing along a few links:

--- I wrote today about the bright spotlight that figures to shine on UW's incoming freshmen class. As UW coach Tim Lappano points out in the story, a key for the Husky coaches will be figuring out the best way to get those players ready for the season without overloading them.

--- ESPN's Ted Miller has a state-of-the-conference primer with camps kicking off everywhere today.

--- The Bellingham Herald had an interesting story yesterday on the thirst for Jake Locker memorabilia in that area. Among the hottest items is this FernDawg T-shirt.

--- A couple of you wanted to know more about the five-day acclimatization period all teams must undergo before putting on pads, so here are the details from the NCAA manual.

--- Here's an update on the beginning of camp from, including details on Picture Day Saturday. Picture Day is designed as a day for fans to come to the stadium and meet and greet players and coaches and get pictures and autographs.

All for now.

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