SEATTLE — When Steve Sarkisian was hired as Washington’s football coach in December, he offered his players a chance to start new with him.
As the Huskies began their second week of spring practice Monday, it seemed that no one is taking advantage of that clean slate better than tight end Chris Izbicki.
Izbicki came to Washington as one of the top recruits in the 2007 recruiting class. He redshirted that fall, and was expected to compete for the backup tight end job last season. But just before the start of fall camp, he was arrested at a concert and later charged with a pair of misdemeanors. He practiced with the team last season, but never made it onto the field. Izbicki feels that he was never really given a chance to earn playing time after his arrest.
“That was definitely a large part of it,” he said.
But on Monday, Izbicki was on the field making plays as he split first-team reps with Kavario Middleton. Coaches have praised Izbicki for his play in the early stages of spring football.
“I always knew I could play football, I just needed an opportunity to do it and I feel like I’m finally showing what I can do football wise,” he said. “I’m super excited for the opportunity … It was the best case scenario for me to have new coaches coming in. They told me I’d make a fresh start and to make the best of it, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Izbicki knows he made a mistake last year, but said he’s learned from it is trying to move on.
“It was a mistake I made that I have to live with,” he said. “It was definitely one of the hardest times in my life. I’ve been through some adversity, but I’ve battled through it and I’m back playing football again and that’s all that really matters now.”
And as for that clean slate offer from Sarkisian?
“It just put a smile on my face,” Izbicki said. “I worked real hard this offseason just knowing that this was my opportunity to do something big.”
So far, Izbicki is taking advantage of that opportunity.
Monday’s practice was the first in full pads for the Huskies this spring, which was good news according to the defensive players.
“Guys get taken to the ground more, and that’s a lot of fun for us,” said defensive lineman Daniel Te’o-Nesheim. “The other stuff is kind of just footwork, it’s not very fun. This is where the real fun starts.”
One of the biggest hits of the day came from safety Victor Aiyewa, who got a big reaction from the crowd when he put a good shot on receiver Cody Bruns.
Tailback Chris Polk was held out of practice, the result of a shot he took to the lower leg Saturday. Sarkisian said Polk’s leg is swollen, but that it isn’t a long-term injury and he could be back later this week.
Receiver D’Andre Goodwin experienced hamstring tightness after a long catch and run midway through practice, and was held out the rest of the day as a precaution.
Cornerback Matt Mosley was also limited Monday after getting, in Sarkisian’s words, dinged up in Saturday’s practice.
Linebacker E.J. Savannah, who sat out Saturday’s practice with a minor ankle injury, was back on the field Monday.
Herald Writer John Boyle: email@example.com. For more on UW sports, check out the Huskies blog at heraldnet.com/huskiesblog