SEATTLE — On Saturday the University of Washington football team played four true freshmen in its 48-13 season-opening win against Rutgers at Husky Stadium. One of those players might be the biggest surprise of this year’s UW recruiting class.
Offensive lineman Nick Harris played a good bit of the second half at right guard for the Huskies, where he is listed as the primary backup to starter Shane Brostek. Not only is it unusual for true freshmen to play on the offensive line, but the 6-foot-1, 270-pound Harris hardly has the typical body of an major-college offensive lineman, at least in terms of height.
In the months leading up to February’s letter-of-intent signing day, the only schools to offer Harris a scholarship other than Washington were New Hampshire and Cal Poly.
“I just kind of chuckle about Nick Harris because we just thought all along that he’s a heck of a football player,” UW head coach Chris Petersen said. “We didn’t think he was going to come here at 17 years old and play on the (offensive) line right away, but we knew he was pretty good.”
Added Petersen with a grin: “So much for all the recruiting experts.”
Other true freshmen playing on Saturday were safety Taylor Rapp, linebacker Brandon Wellington and wide receiver Aaron Fuller.
Rapp, who played at Bellingham’s Sehome High School, graduated from high school at the semester and arrived at Washington in time to participate in spring practices. He played extensively in the second half and on special teams.
“Taylor Rapp has done a great job since he’s been here from the very start of spring ball,” Petersen said.” He’s an extremely smart player and a really good tackler.”
Good to be back
One year after suffering a severe knee injury on the first kickoff of his first game at Husky Stadium, Austin Joyner made his return for the Huskies. Joyner, a Marysville Pilchuck graduate, played on special teams and as a backup cornerback later in the game, and he finished with one solo tackle.
Joyner was not made available to the media after the game.
Also getting in the game was defensive lineman John Clark, a redshirt freshman and Marysville Getchell High School graduate. He saw action in the second half.
Budda gets the ball
As expected from earlier comments by Petersen, the Huskies gave junior All-Pac-12 Conference safety Budda Baker a chance to play on offense against Rutgers.
In the first quarter, Baker came into the backfield and took a handoff around left end. Alas, he got knocked down for a 1-yard loss on his only carry of the game.
That’s a fact
For only the third time in history, the Huskies returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in the same game. Against Rutgers, John Ross took a kickoff to the end zone and Dante Pettis did the same with a punt.
In 2001, Roc Alexander returned a kickoff for a TD and Charles Frederick returned a punt for a TD against Idaho. In 1940, Ernie Steele returned both kicks for touchdowns against Washington State.
Who’s the backup?
K.J. Carta-Samuels and Tony Rodriguez are battling to be the backup quarterback behind Jake Browning. Both played on Saturday, though Carta-Samuels got the first call, coming in late in the third quarter and throwing a 4-yard TD pass to Andre Baccellia on his first snap from scrimmage.
Rodriguez, a community college transfer, played in Washington’s final two offensive possessions of the game.