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Friday, August 20, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
By Bob Condotta
OLYMPIA At first glance, it's easy to miss.
Khalif Barnes adding 20 pounds on what was already a 6-foot-5, 295-pound frame seems a little like Paul Allen depositing a check for $1,000.
But Barnes, a senior offensive tackle for the Washington Huskies, hopes the added weight could be the difference between being merely a good player which Barnes has been his first three years at Washington and being great something UW coaches have always felt Barnes has the potential to be.
"If I want a chance to play at the next level, I knew I had to get heavier," Barnes said. "So I wanted to do it now. I wanted to get a little heavier and see if I would still be able to run and move and be as athletic as I was at 295."
So far, so good, Barnes says, adding that defensive teammates have noticed a difference in his play during training camp.
Defensive end Ty Eriks wondered the other day how much weight Barnes had gained.
"It's even harder to get around the edge now because you're laying on me," he told Barnes.
"I put it on in the spring and was moving around pretty good and now I'm playing at it and I still feel good," Barnes said.
The key, Barnes said, was how he added the weight.
Asked jokingly if he simply ate more, Barnes replied, "But I ate good. Not a lot of junk. I increased my portions of eating and I eat more times a day, but it's mostly white rice and baked chicken and fish and steak. It's pretty good weight."
In fact, he said his body fat is still about 11 percent.
Offensive line coach Charlie Dickey, who took over in January, says the added weight hasn't affected Barnes' quickness and points to his 4.85-second time in the 40-yard dash.
""That's really moving for a guy that size," Dickey said. "He's quick and physical."
Barnes is a critical piece of a Washington offensive line that could hold the key to a successful season.
He has 37 starts in his Huskies career, more than any other player on the roster.
In fact, it's more than double the 17 combined starts for the rest of the offensive line.
That inexperience, coupled with a relative lack of seasoned depth, is the main reason outsiders have pegged the line as a potential problem spot.
But Washington coaches sound increasingly optimistic about the line. Barnes and senior Ryan Brooks or junior Rob Meadow are projected to start at the tackles, and sophomore Brad Vanneman is solid at center. Junior Tusi Sa'au and sophomores Stanley Daniels and Clay Walker are competing at guard.
"It's not where it needs to be," Dickey said. "But they are showing a desire to want to be good. ... If Tusi and Rob (who each missed substantial parts of last season with injuries) can stay healthy, we should have some good depth there."
Defending the line
The brawls that marked Washington's first full-scale scrimmage Wednesday were still a topic of conversation a day later. Most were written off as part of a long, hard training camp.
But one of the fights which featured defensive tackle Manase Hopoi going toe-to-toe with Walker for several seconds before Barnes stepped in to break it up also apparently came with a purpose.
Hopoi remembered sitting out the spring game last April and seeing the UW offensive line push around the defense at times. He said he felt the offense was beginning to push the defense around again and wanted to make a point to his defensive teammates.
"I was just setting the tempo for the defensive line," Hopoi said.
Then, with a smile, Hopoi said, "If it wasn't for Khalif, we'd probably still be fighting out there."
Former coach Jim Lambright, who had two surgeries to treat bladder cancer in April and May, attended both practices yesterday at Evergreen State College and said he has been given a clean bill of health.
Lambright said he had a "racquetball-sized" tumor removed from his bladder in the first surgery and had the bladder reconstructed in a second surgery.
He said he lost about 20 pounds during a six-week rehabilitation but "feels great."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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