LB Savannah back in starting role

SEATTLE – Whatever issues have been holding E.J. Savannah back seem to be over.

Washington coach Tyrone Willingham has been vague throughout fall camp on Savannah’s situation, but the linebacker from Bellevue seemed to be having some sort of academic issues that led to a demotion to the second team.

On Wednesday, Willingham indicated that Savannah was back on track.

“He should be fine,” Willingham said. “There are no issues involving him as of now.”

Savannah is back to working with the first team at weakside linebacker, Willingham said. The other starting linebackers are Dan Howell and Donald Butler. Chris Stevens had been with the first team prior to Savannah’s apparent reclaiming of the job.

Butler remains something of a mystery, however, as he has been held out of several practices due to swelling in a surgically repaired knee. The sophomore had surgery following spring practice to repair a torn meniscus.

Projected as a starting linebacker, Savannah had been with the second team since the start of practice. When asked about Savannah two weeks ago, Willingham only said that the demotion had “something to do with school.”

Position updates: The team will hold its last scrimmage today, which should help clarify some of the position battles heading into next week’s opener at Syracuse.

Willingham indicated that the special teams roles are starting to take shape, but that there are still jobs to be won and lost. Anthony Russo, who is making a quick recovery from surgery on a broken pinky, is the “odds-on favorite” to win the punt return job. Freshman running back Brandon Johnson was one of the main kick returners in last weekend’s scrimmage, and could end up with that job.

Cornerback Roy Lewis, a regular on kick returns last year, will likely not have that duty this year.

“I haven’t spoken with Roy yet about this, but it would probably be my opinion to not have him do it,” said Willingham.

As has been mentioned before, the Huskies are thin at cornerback, and risking Lewis on special teams is apparently something Willingham wants to avoid.

Ryan Perkins and Jared Ballman are in competition for the field goal/extra point and punting jobs, while Ballman and freshman Erik Folk are battling for the kickoff duties, Willingham said.

Starting jobs on the offensive line and at cornerback are also still being sorted out.

Injury update: Cornerback Byron Davenport continues to be limited by a hamstring injury, while receiver Cody Ellis was again limited by an undisclosed injury.

Willingham said earlier in the week that he is no longer going to give specifics on his players’ injuries. A small number of players on the team have not signed waivers allowing the team to disclose their injuries under HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) rules. So to avoid risking disclosing information on one of those athletes, Willingham said he is not going to give injury information for all players.

“I don’t want to make a mistake,” he said. “So it’s better if I don’t talk about any of them.”

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