By Christian Caple The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Having missed every one of Washington’s spring practices while he was suspended, third-year sophomore quarterback Cyler Miles knows fall camp is very much about repetition.
On Wednesday, it was also about contrition.
Speaking briefly with reporters for the first time since the end of the 2013 season, Miles apologized for “my behavior and my actions earlier this winter,” a reference to the Feb. 2 altercation in the University District that prompted an assault investigation and resulted in three misdemeanor charges against former UW receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow.
Miles was with Stringfellow that night, and was also accused of assault. But the prosecutor’s office ultimately declined to file charges against the quarterback, citing lack of evidence. Stringfellow pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth-degree assault and one count of malicious mischief, was sentenced to five days on a work crew and assessed a $693 fine, and eventually decided to transfer to Mississippi.
UW coach Chris Petersen announced at Pac-12 media days in July that Miles, who was suspended from team activities from early February until mid-May, will not play in the Huskies’ Aug. 30 opener at Hawaii.
A contrite Miles deemed that punishment “fair,” saying that he’s sorry for what he did and is willing to accept the consequences.
“A lot of people that represent me are affected by my actions,” Miles said. “Obviously my family, my teammates, my university, and also the city that I live in right now, Seattle. It was an embarrassment to all of those people — me, my family and my last name. So for that, I truly apologize and at the same time I realize that I did mess up.”
Miles and Stringfellow were accused of assaulting a man during a celebration of the Seattle Seahawks’ victory over the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl (in a separate incident, Stringfellow also pleaded guilty to assaulting a female victim earlier that night and damaging her camera. Miles was also present). According to court documents, Miles and Stringfellow approached a man and his girlfriend walking in the 2300 block of N.E. 50th Street and one of the players asked if they were Seahawks fans.
After the man replied yes, Stringfellow and Miles chased him, and Stringfellow began punching the man in the face. According to charging documents, Miles was “backing Stringfellow and acting aggressively,” but neither the man or his girlfriend could say for sure if Miles also struck him.
So he avoided criminal charges. But Miles, a native of Centennial, Colo., seems to understand why his behavior doesn’t sit well with Seahawks fans.
“I have no problem with the Seahawks, man. I respect Russell (Wilson) and what he’s done at that program,” Miles said. “Things happen and I take full responsibility for my actions. I messed up big time, and I’m willing to face the consequences and do everything in my power to gain the respect back of Husky fans, my teammates and Coach Pete.”
It was “difficult” to wake up each day in the spring, Miles said, knowing his teammates were readying for practice while he was sitting at home. He met with coaches a handful of times to discuss “a little overview and what was going on,” and lifted weights and threw passes on his own, but was otherwise on the outside looking in.
That’s behind him now. But respect is earned, and Miles won’t win it back with one apology. He knows that.
“I think just trying to rally guys as best as I can, just giving full effort on every drill, every workout, just try to get to know the incoming freshmen,” Miles said. “I feel like we’re a lot closer as a team this year. All-around, just try to become a better teammate, better leader.”
The rust accumulated during his suspension shows. He threw two interceptions during Wednesday’s first full-squad practice, though one of them was deflected at the line of scrimmage. He’ll need plenty of reps to perfect his timing, too.
Still, he should have every chance to win the starting quarterback job, battling two younger players — Jeff Lindquist and Troy Williams — who haven’t attempted a collegiate pass.
Petersen does like some of what he’s seen.
“I think he’s done a pretty good job mentally,” Petersen said. “He’s worked hard to catch himself back up. He can command things pretty well out there in terms of knowing where guys are going. But in terms of the details, the timing, the accuracy, all those things, the precision — nobody’s there at that position … He’s had the least amount of reps since we’ve been here.”
And Miles knows that’s his own fault.
“I highly regret it,” he said, “and I’m very excited to get back on the team and do my best to put this past me and start working with my guys again.”