The University of Washington football coach's first phone conversation with Joe Montana was pretty cool -- even if it was essentially a business call.
"I never really told him that I had his poster up on my wall when I was a kid," Sarkisian said Monday of the father of UW freshman Nick Montana, whom the Huskies recruited in 2009. "But once you get into (the recruiting process) and once we got to know the family -- not only Joe but (wife) Jennifer and the other siblings -- they are a normal family."
In the end, it was a pretty rewarding experience too. Now Nick Montana is a freshman at UW and battling for the job as Jake Locker's primary backup at quarterback.
"It was just the best place for me," the younger Montana said of UW. "Coach Sark, you couldn't ask for a better coach, and the coaching staff all the way through. Right when they started recruiting me, the whole coaching staff, they said they were going to do good things. And that's the kind of program I want to be in."
Montana was so excited about becoming a Husky that he enrolled early and began taking classes in the spring. Because he practiced with the football team in the spring, Sarkisian waved his no-newcomer rule in terms of interviews and allowed Montana to talk to the press Monday.
The freshman from Thousand Oaks, Calif., said being the son of a famous quarterback has plenty of benefits and not a single disadvantage.
"I don't see it as a negative," he said of his father, who played at Notre Dame and went on to become an NFL Hall of Famer. "It's an honor to have him as my dad; I love him. I'm just trying to make a name for myself."
Montana, who led a game-winning drive in the Huskies' spring game, is battling redshirt freshman Keith Price for the right to be No. 2 quarterback this season.
Secondary gets nicked up
The Huskies' two most experienced cornerbacks went down with minor injuries Monday.
Junior Quinton Richardson came out of practice due to back spasms that were so strong that he had to be helped to the locker room by a team trainer after the session was over.
Senior Vonzell McDowell Jr. came out with a turf toe.
Richardson was working with the No. 1 defense at the start of practice, opposite sophomore Desmond Trufant. McDowell is battling Adam Long, Anthony Boyles and true freshman Gregory Ducre for playing time in the nickel defense.
The battle is on
Several position battles were waged Monday, with the most interesting one being at outside linebacker.
Seniors Victor Aiyewa, Matt Houston and Brandon Huppert and freshman Jamaal Kearse all saw time with the starting defense while battling for the job that E.J. Savannah held last year.
"We've got a lot of young, talented kids that could go in there and play, and some returners that could play that spot as well," Sarkisian said. "So we don't need to rush that decision. We're going to go in and play guys and roll them through and see what the right combination is and make it work."
Senior Mason Foster will man the other outside linebacker position, while junior Cort Dennison is slated to replace NFL draft pick Donald Butler at middle linebacker.
The other interesting battles are at free safety (Nate Fellner, Will Shamburger and Glenn) and fullback (Austin Sylvester and Dorson Boyce).
Glenn, Huppert practice
Snohomish County products Justin Glenn and Huppert were back on the field after spending much of the offseason recovering from injuries.
Glenn, a cornerback from Kamiak High School, is still trying to come back from a broken leg he suffered in last season's loss to Notre Dame. Huppert, a senior linebacker from Edmonds-Woodway, had knee surgery and was practicing with a brace Monday.
Several other Huskies are also coming back from injuries, including starting right tackle Cody Habben (shoulder) and reserve defensive linemen Kalani Aldrich and Everette Thompson, the latter two of whom sat out the 11-on-11 drills.
Defensive end Josh Shirley, a true freshman who got kicked out of UCLA because of an on-campus incident over the summer, was among the players who participated in Monday's practice. … The Huskies have five quarterbacks at camp: Locker, Price, Montana and walk-ons Erik Wilson and Mike King.
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