By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Jake Locker and Devin Aguilar were up to their old tricks on Saturday afternoon, but it was a trio of premature freshmen who stole the show at the University of Washington’s first football scrimmage of the spring season.
True freshmen Nick Montana, Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier, all of whom enrolled in school early, opened some eyes while playing in front of the largest crowd of the spring season.
About 2,000 people looked on as Montana engineered a scoring drive that culminated in Cooper’s 32-yard touchdown run. Callier, a running back from Southern California, made one of the best moves of the day but had the long run called back due to a holding penalty.
The scrimmage, which was held over the final 30 minutes of Saturday’s two-hour practice session, also saw some veterans make big plays. Locker helped the first-team offense march 80 yards on its opening drive, finishing it off with a nifty 29-yard touchdown pass to Aguilar on a stop-fade pattern down the right sideline.
“That’s something we’ve worked on the whole offseason here,” Locker said. “It was good coverage by (Quinton Richardson), but if you’re on the same page, and you’re able to throw the ball where you want to, and (Aguilar) adjusts to the ball, it’s hard to stop that.”
Locker’s only other series saw him mostly hand the ball off to Callier.
A bulk of the quarterback work went to redshirt freshman Keith Price and Montana, who is the son of Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana. They’re battling for the right to serve as Locker’s primary backup because Ronnie Fouch transferred to Indiana State.
Montana, who started school two weeks ago Monday, completed his first two passes while leading a 70-yard scoring drive. He also badly underthrew a deep pass from the 40-yard line, nearly resulting in a goal-line interception.
On Montana’s next series, he was sacked on back-to-back plays.
While head coach Steve Sarkisian said that Montana’s transition to college has “gone beyond what all of our expectations could be at this point,” he also believes the competition at quarterback will run well into the fall.
“All in all, I’m really impressed with Keith and Nick,” he said. “… Jake was going to get two series (Saturday), and then we wanted to get enough of these two young guys on film to see where they’re at.”
Cooper and Callier both saw plenty of action at the running back position while starter Chris Polk rests a shoulder injury. The freshman running backs have been so impressive that Sarkisian said they would see action if the Huskies’ season started this week.
“We thought they were pretty good players, or we wouldn’t have recruited them, but you just never know from a developmental standpoint,” Sarkisian said. “They’ve come here since Day 1, they’ve had a workmanlike attitude, they’re both very focused young men, and they’re playing hard.”
The scrimmage included seven series, and score was not kept. The offense’s only touchdowns came on Aguilar’s reception and Cooper’s 32-yard scamper, which he broke on fourth-down-and-2.
Several projected starters sat out the scrimmage to rest injuries, including Polk, tackle Cody Habben (shoulder), cornerback Desmond Trufant (groin) and safety Nate Williams (concussion).