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Thursday, April 19, 2007 - Page updated at 09:02 PM

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UW QB job is Locker's to lose

Seattle Times staff reporter

Washington football coach Tyrone Willingham said Thursday that the Huskies' starting quarterback job is Jake Locker's to lose.

And because Locker rarely loses at anything, that was about as good as saying he will be the team's quarterback when the season begins Aug. 31 at Syracuse.

"If we had to play a game today, he would be our quarterback," Willingham said during a luncheon to mark the beginning of spring drills, which get under way Monday.

Willingham said that would be the case even if senior Carl Bonnell — who started the last five games of the 2006 season — were completely healthy, which Bonnell isn't, still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

It was a somewhat surprising admission by Willingham, who in his first two years at UW had tended to be as cautious as possible in declaring starters. And Willingham qualified his statement a few times by saying that "we are still very much in competition."

But a depth chart released on Thursday showed Locker at No. 1, and even Bonnell admitted his goal now is to try to wrest the job from his younger counterpart.

"He deserves the opportunity," Bonnell said. "It's my job to push him and hopefully take the job. ... He has as much potential as anybody I've ever seen at quarterback. So it's going to be experience vs. potential."

Bonnell, however, won't be in optimum condition to compete. He will be limited during spring drills after surgery on his left shoulder to repair an injury suffered last season. Bonnell said the surgery included having a cadaver's tendon installed to "tie my stuff back up."

He hasn't been able to lift weights as much as he'd like and has lost a little weight.

But Willingham's announcement was as much about Locker as it was Bonnell.

Locker, who didn't attend the luncheon due to a class conflict, arrived at UW last fall as one of the most heralded recruits in school history after a stellar career at Ferndale High, regarded as the player who could lead the Huskies back to the promised land.

Willingham resisted the urge to take the redshirt off Locker last season after Isaiah Stanback suffered a foot injury, which allowed Bonnell to take over. UW went 1-4 in Bonnell's starts, winning the final game of the year at Washington State.

But Willingham said Locker has done enough in his one redshirt season, as well as his high-school history — he led Ferndale to the state 3A title as a senior — to deserve the No. 1 nod.

"It's his understanding of how the game is played and executing certain things and putting himself and his team in certain good positions," Willingham said.

Willingham said he's confident Locker will be able to handle the pressure of starting from day one of his college career if that's how it unfolds.

But he also said UW coaches will have to be innovative this spring to speed up the learning curve of Locker and UW's quarterbacks. Other than Bonnell, the only other scholarship QB on the roster is Ronnie Fouch, who graduated from high school early to enroll in time for spring ball.

"We're going to have to create ways this spring to accelerate the growth in all of our quarterbacks," Willingham said, including letting the QBs call their own plays during practices and putting them in more game-type situations.

Names back on jerseys?

Willingham said he is considering returning to having player names on the back of UW's jerseys. Willingham removed the names when he arrived before the 2005 season, saying it was one way to help install more of a team attitude.

But Willingham said as the program "continues to grow and mature," some adjustments can be made and that "we are getting closer" to where he wants the team to be in terms of its overall attitude.

"But also if we do it, it's to help the fans, which is a big part of it," Willingham said, acknowledging he has heard from those who say it's hard to follow the players on the field without names. He also said he initially hoped to eliminate double numbers — two players sharing the same number — which makes it confusing for fans at times without names on the jerseys. "But it's been difficult to eliminate that because we have a lot of kids," he said. "We have 110 kids at times."

NOTES

• Willingham officially announced the hiring of Luke Huard as the team's offensive graduate assistant and Anthony Gabriel, a former linebacker for Willingham at Stanford, as the defensive graduate assistant. Huard will work with the offense (primarily quarterbacks) and Gabriel with the defense (primarily the line).

• Backup DE Anthony Atkins will sit out spring practice to concentrate on his academics, Willingham said.

• Willingham said the team is pretty healthy heading into spring and that everyone on the roster should be able to participate in some capacity. That includes OL Jordan White-Frisbee, who has battled foot injuries the past two years but is listed No. 2 at one guard spot. Also back is strong safety Darin Harris, who sat out last season with a back injury. Willingham said Harris could be limited, but he's listed No. 2 on the depth chart behind Mesphin Forrester.

• Willingham said the key position battle could be at guard, where UW lost both starters. Morgan Rosborough, a 6-6, 375-pound junior, is listed as one starter with Casey Bulyca and Ryan Tolar listed as co-starters on the other side.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com. Read his blogs on Washington football and basketball at www.seattletimes.com/huskies.

UW spring depth chart
OFFENSE
Pos No. Name Ht Wt Yr
WR 5 Anthony Russo 5-11 185 Sr.*
# 18 Corey Williams 6-2 195 Sr.*
# 80 Ian McMilan 6-3 190 Jr.
# 84 Sho Yoshinaga 5-9 175 Sr.
LT 79 Ben Ossai 6-6 300 Jr.
# 69 Eric Berglund 6-6 290 Sr.*
# 78 Sir Aaron Mason 6-6 270 Sr.
LG 70 Morgan Rosborough 6-6 375 Jr.
# 76 Jordan White-Frisbee 6-6 320 Sr.
C 58 Juan Garcia 6-3 315 Sr.*
# 64 Matt Sedillo 6-3 300 So.
# 73 Ryan Bush 6-2 305 Sr.
# 61 Gregory Christine 6-3 280 So.
RG 72 Casey Bulyca 6-6 320 Sr.
or 65 Ryan Tolar 6-6 325 So.
RT 75 Chad Macklin 6-8 300 Sr.*
# 71 Cody Habben 6-5 270 So.
TE 86 Michael Gottlieb 6-5 245 Sr.
or 37 Johnnie Kirton 6-3 270 Sr.
or 81 Robert Lewis 6-5 250 Sr.*
QB 10 Jake Locker 6-3 210 So.
# 11 Carl Bonnell 6-3 210 Sr.*
TB 9 Louis Rankin 6-1 205 Sr.*
# 24 J.R. Hasty 5-11 210 Jr.
FB 30 Paul Homer 6-0 225 So.
# 32 Luke Kravitz 6-1 225 Sr.
WR 3 Marcel Reece 6-3 240 Sr.
# 19 Quintin Daniels 6-0 195 Sr.*
# 42 Charles Hawkins 6-2 185 Sr.
WR 29 Cody Ellis 6-0 185 Sr.*
# 16 D'Andre Goodwin 6-0 170 So.
# 28 Tony Chidiac 5-11 190 So.
DEFENSE
DE 66 Daniel Te'o-Nesheim 6-4 245 Jr.
# 59 Darrion Jones 6-3 245 Jr.
# 96 De'Shon Matthews 6-3 245 So.
DT 95 Jordan Reffett 6-6 295 Sr.*
# 56 Jovon O'Connor 6-5 290 Sr.
or 93 Derek Kosub 6-4 270 So.
DT 74 Wilson Afoa 6-3 290 Sr.*
# 99 Cameron Elisara 6-2 275 So.
# 77 Erick Lobos 6-3 285 Sr.
DE 7 Greyson Gunheim 6-5 265 Sr.
# 85 Caesar Rayford 6-7 242 Sr.
# 97 Fred Wiggs 6-1 225 So.
OLB 34 Dan Howell 6-1 225 Sr.
# 51 Linus Chou 6-4 215 Jr.
# 36 Matt Houston 6-1 215 So.
ILB 35 Donald Butler 6-1 240 So.
# 57 Trenton Tuiasosopo 6-2 240 Sr.
# 43 T.J. Poe 6-1 205 Jr.
# 48 Mark Farney 6-2 202 Jr.
# # Austin Sylvester 6-1 245 Fr.
OLB 29 Chris Stevens 6-0 215 Jr.
# 22 E.J. Savannah 6-2 222 Jr.
# 20 Kyle Trew 6-2 235 Sr.
# 24 Joshua Gage 6-2 215 Jr.
# # Brandon Huppert 6-1 230 So.
FS 26 Jason Wells 6-2 210 Jr.
# 27 Jay Angotti 5-10 180 So.
SS 23 Mesphin Forrester 6-2 205 Sr.
# 15 Darin Harris 5-11 200 Sr.
CB 16 Jordan Murchison 6-0 184 Sr.*
or 19 Matt Mosley 5-11 190 So.
CB 28 Roy Lewis 5-11 187 Sr.*
# 21 Desmond Davis 5-11 190 Sr.
SPECIAL TEAMS
P Jared Ballman 5-11 175 Jr.
# 13 Ryan Perkins 6-0 185 Jr.
K 13 Ryan Perkins 6-0 185 Jr.
# Zach Gerasin 5-11 155 So.
HLD 11 Carl Bonnell 6-3 210 Sr.*
SNP 49 Danny Morovick 6-3 230 Jr.
KOR 28 Roy Lewis 5-11 187 Sr.*
# 5 Anthony Russo 5-11 185 Sr.*
PR 5 Anthony Russo 5-11 185 Sr.*
# 16 D'Andre Goodwin 6-0 170 So.
Notes: Offense lists 12 positions. At times, UW will use a three-wide receiver, one-back set; at other times a two-receiver, two-back set. *Other than fifth-year seniors, players are listed by academic year.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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