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Originally published Thursday, December 11, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Steve Sarkisian says E.J. Savannah can rejoin Huskies

New UW coach Steve Sarkisian told his players that they all had "a clean slate." Just how clean became apparent when he said linebacker E.J. Savannah will be welcomed back to the team in January.

Seattle Times staff reporter

When he met with his team for the first time Monday, new Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian told his players that they all had "a clean slate."

Just how clean became apparent Wednesday when Sarkisian said that linebacker E.J. Savannah will be welcomed back to the team in January.

"We'll give him another opportunity," Sarkisian said.

Savannah, a linebacker, announced in September he was transferring after having not been with the team all season while under an indefinite suspension for academic and other issues.

Sarkisian said he was aware of Savannah's situation but said he had talked with him earlier in the week and told him he could come back.

"Oh man, it feels so good [to be back]," said Savannah, who said he never really wanted to leave UW but did so only as "a last resort" because he wasn't sure if he would be allowed back on the team.

He said he never really considered transferring to any other schools, deciding to wait it out and see what would happen with the coaching situation at UW. When Tyrone Willingham was let go in October, Savannah said he decided to wait and see who the new coach would be.

"I never wanted to leave UW," he said.

Savannah said he was eligible to return this season, even though Willingham intimated otherwise to reporters without saying so specifically. He has not been in school this fall but said he is already enrolled for 16 credits in January.

He said he spent the fall working and working out, saying he has added "16 pounds of muscle" and is at 240 pounds.

The return of Savannah could help a UW defense that was the worst in school history in both points allowed (38.6 per game) and yards allowed (451.8).

Savannah had 111 tackles in 2007 to rank sixth in the Pac-10 and was named the team's defensive player of the year. He will have one season of eligibility remaining.


Coaching carousel

Sarkisian said he wasn't yet ready to announce any additions to his coaching staff. However, several sources said that a couple appeared to be done deals.

According to sources, Johnny Nansen, a former WSU linebacker and current Idaho assistant, is in line to be the defensive-line coach. Charlie Camp, most recently an assistant at Nevada and San Jose State, is in line to be the linebackers coach. And Demetrice Martin, a former graduate assistant at USC and most recently in the JC ranks in California, may take over the secondary.

There were also varying reports that USC secondary coach Rocky Seto could be coming to UW as defensive coordinator, even though he had told The Los Angeles Daily News on Tuesday he didn't expect to move. There were also reports that Ron English, the defensive coordinator at Louisville, could be in the mix for the job.

A source also said that Ivan Lewis, an assistant in the strength and conditioning department at USC, could be the new strength coach at UW.

Bronson, Blackman

say they expect to be back

Two members of the Class of 2008 who didn't qualify academically — running back Demetrius Bronson of Kentwood and quarterback Dominique Blackman of Carson, Calif. — each said Wednesday they expect to enroll at UW in January.

Each said he has done what was needed to get qualified — Blackman said he had to raise his standardized test score, Bronson said he needed to pass two online classes. But each said he is still waiting to hear if he will be approved for enrollment.

Bronson said he has already spoken with Sarkisian and said he is excited to join the Huskies.

Bronson said some people told him he should look around after he was declared ineligible but that he had his heart set on UW.

"I'll be another helper back there for Jake [Locker] in the backfield," he said.

Heaps on campus

Sarkisian welcomed Skyline quarterback Jake Heaps and his family, their first meeting since Sarkisian took the job. Heaps, a junior, is regarded by some as the nation's top recruit for the Class of 2010.


• Sarkisian said that running back Brandon Johnson, who skipped a few practices last week and was suspended for the season finale at California, is back in good standing with the team.

• Rumors floated that the new strength and conditioning coach could be Ivan Lewis, an assistant in the strength and conditioning department at USC.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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