Huskies have early start to spring practice

SEATTLE — The spring practice schedule has a decidedly different look for the University of Washington football team this year.

For starters, the Huskies are beginning much earlier than usual. Spring practices have historically been held mostly in April, but this year they will commence the first week of March.

The team is also practicing three days a week on alternating days — Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday — for five weeks to reach the allowable 15 days of practice.

In another twist, the Huskies will practice for two weeks in early March, then take two weeks off for winter quarter finals and spring break, then return for the final three weeks in April, culminating with the annual Spring Game at 4 p.m. on April 20 at Seattle Memorial Stadium.

Lastly, the Huskies will have 8:30 p.m. practices on Tuesday and Thursday of the first two weeks, and 8:30 a.m. practices on the same days of the last three weeks. The four Saturday practices (excluding the Spring Game) will be at 11:30 a.m.

Though spring practices have sometimes be open to the public, that will not be true this year. The reason is the reconstruction project at Husky Stadium, which has moved practices to the adjoining practice field on the east end of the stadium, where spectator space is limited. Only the Spring Game will be open to the public.

Injuries, personnel moves

A handful of players will sit out spring practices, most because of serious season-ending injuries in 2012.

They are defensive end Hau’oli Jamora, offensive lineman Colin Tanigawa, running back Deontae Cooper, running back Jesse Callier, defensive end Pio Vatuvei, linebacker Travis Feeney and defensive tackle Lawrence Lagafuaina.

Two players who will be limited early in the spring, but might get more practice time later are defensive back Brandon Beaver and offensive lineman Erik Kohler.

Lastly, defensive back Darien Washington will participate in most workouts, but will not have any contact.

“Getting these guys healthy (for the fall) is big for us,” UW head coach Steve Sarkisian said.

Other personnel moves

Two players will be in new positions for the spring. Taz Stevenson will move from tailback to safety, while Thomas Vincent will go from quarterback to safety.

Backup linebacker Corey Waller has decided to transfer.

Incoming freshmen Troy Williams, a quarterback, and Trevor Walker, a safety, are already on campus and will participate in spring practices. A third, place-kicker Cameron Van Winkle, will arrive for the second half of spring practices.

Thompson still impresses

True freshman Shaq Thompson made an impact last season, earning a starting spot early in the year. And based on “a tremendous offseason,” Sarkisian said, Thompson should be even better this coming season.

“He looks great,” Sarkisian added. “For as talented as he is physically, his work ethic is in the top 5 percent on our roster. He’s just a guy who prepares himself mentally and physically, and I’m excited to see him (on the field).”

Thompson might be the team’s best kick returner, though that role might not be compatible with his role as a starting linebacker. But given the choice, Thompson would probably return punts and kickoffs.

“He’d play quarterback if I’d let him,” Sarkisian said with a laugh.

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