Marcus Peters and Sean Parker anchor a UW secondary in transition
With Desmond Trufant gone, a Washington secondary is looking for the next dominant playmaker in a group that ranked 16th nationally and second in the Pac-12 last season allowing 188.9 passing yards per game.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The text from Atlanta hit Marcus Peters’ cellphone early Monday morning before the start of Washington’s training camp.
It read: “Time to get back to business.”
The author – Desmond Trufant – sent similar motivational messages to almost everyone in the Husky defensive backfield.
“That’s my older brother, so we have to keep in touch,” Peters said. “He was telling me you guys have a goal that you need to meet and just go out there and work as hard as you can.”
Trufant, who was taken 22nd overall in the first round by the Falcons in the NFL draft, is a role model for a Washington secondary looking for the next dominant playmaker in a group that ranked 16th nationally and second in the Pac-12 last season, allowing 188.9 passing yards per game.
“The biggest thing Desmond left with us is work ethic and preparation,” coach Steve Sarkisian said. “He was a tremendous worker. He really wanted to master his trade. He prepared mentally, physically and emotionally. He left that blueprint for younger players to say, hey, if you want to be good, if you want to be an all-conference performer and if you want to be a first-round draft pick here’s the blueprint.
“You work really hard in the offseason. You study film. You work at your craft. You study technique. You work on your technique. You stay after practice and work ball drills. All of those little things add up to being a really good player.”
Early this week, Sarkisian said the position battles in the secondary were the most intriguing questions in camp.
By all accounts, Sean Parker, a captain last season who started every game at strong safety, will return to the starting lineup. Meanwhile Will Shamburger, who started two games last season, is the favorite to win the free-safety spot.
Redshirt freshman Brandon Beaver, who moved from cornerback to safety, and freshman Trevor Walker are also in contention.
Peters, who started the final eight games last season, is a virtual shoo-in to regain his old cornerback spot, leaving senior Greg Ducre in a tight battle with junior Travell Dixon for other cornerback position.
Redshirt freshman Cleveland Wallace is another option.
Ducre was saddled with high expectations after playing in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2010. He started six games as a sophomore, but came off the bench in every game last season.
“I’m more strong-minded this year,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t have the season you dreamed to have. I would say now I’m just focusing on the task at hand. Whatever comes my way, I’m going to deal with it.”
Sensing his confidence wavering, Trufant told Ducre to never doubt himself.
“I used to be a guy who didn’t really know myself,” Ducre said. “But now I’m building my confidence. It’s getting there.”
Dixon, who had a brief stint with Alabama in 2012 after two years at Eastern Arizona College, chose Washington in part because of Trufant.
“I knew about him since his sophomore year when he played against Notre Dame and Michael Floyd,” Dixon said. “Me and Tru we came out of high school the same year. I know a lot about him.
“He tells me to stay humble and work hard and to play to the best of my abilities and believe in myself. Study my playbook and do the extra things.”
At 6-1 and 196 pounds, Dixon thrives in press coverage and is learning to play in space. Meanwhile, Ducre, 5-11 and 178 pounds, said he’s intent on finishing plays.
“I focus on doing what I can do to the best of my abilities,” Dixon said. “You can’t worry about nothing you can’t control.”
Said Ducre: “I really don’t think about the competition. I just want to work on myself because I feel like everyone should play. And everyone probably will play at some point in time.”
• Washington will practice Thursday at the Seahawks’ training facility in Renton. The workout is closed to the media. Four of UW’s five road games are on grass, and Sarkisian said the team may return to the Virginia Mason Athletic Center during the season.
• Redshirt freshman Cyler Miles has a stronghold on the backup quarterback spot. Sarkisian said: “It’s almost like the light has turned on for him. He’s got a great feel for the offense. He’s anticipating throws. He’s throwing the ball accurately. He appears to be in really good command and control on the field. I’ve been impressed.”
• Receiver Jaydon Mickens was the only non-quarterback in a yellow, no-contact jersey. That allowed freshman John Ross to work with the No. 1 offense for a few series as the slot receiver.
• Running back Bishop Sankey received the bulk of the reps with the starters, but Deontae Cooper, who is returning from three ACL injuries, also ran with the first unit.
• Offensive lineman Shane Brostek was out of the boot he wore Tuesday, but did not practice. There was again no sign of offensive lineman Erik Kohler (foot), who is limited in workouts.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @percyallen