By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — The knocks of opportunity have been rather quiet for offensive players on the University of Washington football team this spring.
And yet Dorson Boyce and Demitrius Bronson have found a way to push their way into the mix.
Boyce, a senior-to-be who has played tight end since the eighth grade, and Bronson, a former tailback, have been working out at fullback this month because it’s the only skill position that doesn’t have a returning starter.
“There’s playing time there, so I thought that was a better move,” said Boyce, who is battling Bronson and senior Austin Sylvester for the right to replace Paul Homer as starting fullback.
Boyce and Bronson are among several Huskies who are adjusting to new positions this time of year. Defensive tackles Cameron Elisara and De’Shon Matthews are among the players being used at defensive end, former safety Alvin Logan is working at linebacker, and the offensive line has been shuffled at several positions.
In addition, former wide receiver Anthony Boyles is in his first full camp since moving to cornerback, and defensive tackle-turned-offensive guard Nick Wood is also settling in after switching sides last fall.
“The biggest part of it is there’s an attitude about helping the team and doing what’s best for the football team,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said, “and also giving yourself the best opportunity to get on the field.”
For most of the players who have changed positions, the key element has been opportunity. Logan, Bronson and Boyce are battling for starting jobs that wouldn’t have been possible at other positions.
Boyce, a junior-college transfer who was behind Kavario Middleton and Chris Izbicki at tight end, said he talked to coaches about making the move shortly after the conclusion of the 2009 season.
“I just told (the coaches): ‘Anything that will help the team and get me on the field,’” he said Tuesday. “I think it was a good move.”
Sarkisian has been encouraged by what he’s seen from Boyce this spring.
“I like what Dorson Boyce is bringing,” he said. “He brings the ability to play on the line of scrimmage because of his history at tight end, but he’s shown some nice hands out of the backfield. From a conversion standpoint, that’s encouraging.”
Another player who is starting to adjust to his new position is Boyles, a 6-foot-3 sophomore who moved to cornerback late last fall after getting buried on the depth chart at receiver. His size could be a real advantage if he masters the position.
“In our conference, we’ve got some big receivers,” Sarkisian said. “They’re tough matchups if you don’t have a tall, long-armed guy. I think he’s come a really long way. The challenge for Anthony is to stay consistent.”
Among the three offensive linemen who have changed positions, Senio Kelemete has made the biggest impact thus far. A starter at right guard last season, Kelemete was moved to left tackle in the spring to help shore up a position that was in flux at times in the fall.
Sarkisian hasn’t second-guessed the move at all, going as far as to pronounce last week that “we’ll have a left tackle for the next two years that’s a premier guy.”
He went one step further than that Tuesday.
“I love him,” Sarkisian said of the 6-4, 281-pound Kelemete. “He’s an all-Pac-10 player.”
For UW’s converted fullbacks, the only goal is to get on the field. And after losing Homer to graduation, the Huskies certainly have a need.
As Sarkisian said Tuesday of the fullback position: “There is no depth chart there.”
Saturday’s practice, which will probably conclude with an 11-on-11 scrimmage, has been moved back two hours to 11 a.m. The session is open to the public. … Former Huskies quarterback Damon Huard has returned to the school as major gifts officer for the Tyee Club. … Receiver Cody Bruns (concussion) has returned to practice, while linebacker Brandon Huppert (knee surgery), linebacker Victor Aiyewa (shoulder) and cornerback Desmond Trufant (pulled quadriceps) are getting closer to full participation. Defensive end Everette Thompson (Achilles) is no longer wearing a protective boot. … Safeties Greg Walker (elbow) and Nathan Fellner did not participate in Tuesday’s practice. … Frustrated with the lack of physicality from that unit this spring, Sarkisian shuffled offensive linemen Wood, Gregory Christine and Edmonds native Daniel Kanczugowski in and out of the starting lineup throughout Tuesday’s practice. Ryan Tolar and Skyler Fancher were the odd men out.