SEATTLE – When Tyrone Willingham unveiled his latest recruiting class in February, excitement brimmed over the potential of quarterback Jake Locker, and some of the junior college signings were intriguing.
And then there was the signing of Danny Morovick. Could a program coming off of the worst two-year stretch in the program’s history afford to give a scholarship to a long-snapper who had never played a collegiate game?
For Willingham, the answer was an emphatic “Yes.” Willingham said finding a reliable snapper was as important as any other position, and he’s never hesitated to give a scholarship to anyone he believes can fill a need.
“I’ve awarded scholarships to kickers and punters and long-snappers when you feel like you’re comfortable with their skill level and when (scholarships) are available,” Willingham said.
So the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Morovick comes to camp under scholarship with one task: Get the ball to the punter or the holder, and do it well every time. Morovick said he knows there is some pressure to justify giving a scholarship to someone who will likely never catch a pass, score a touchdown or maybe even make a tackle.
“There’s always pressure,” said Morovick, who transferred to Washington from Saddleback Community College. “But I know my talent. I know what I can do. I don’t think they would have given me a scholarship if they didn’t think I could do it.”
Though Morovick is a transfer, he is a freshman with four years of eligibility remaining. That’s because he didn’t actually play at Saddleback, instead choosing to retain all of his eligibility. He hasn’t played since 2004, when as a senior at Mission Viejo (Calif.) High School, he helped lead his team to a 14-0 record and was rated as one of the top long-snapper prospects in the nation. Several schools offered Morovick a chance to walk-on, including Washington. Huskies special teams coach Bob Simmons saw Morovick at a camp in Las Vegas, but Morovick held out for a scholarship offer.
“I felt like I could get a scholarship from someone,” Morovick said. “I just had to be patient. I was really open to anything, but when Washington came back with an offer, I was really excited because of the reputation (Willingham) has. He makes his players better.”
Willingham said going from a walk-on chance to a scholarship offer for Morovick was a matter of timing and opportunity. Washington needed to replace its snapper after former Snohomish standout Andy Heater who handled the job last season graduated.
“When we initially talked, we didn’t have the availability (of a scholarship) at that time,” Willingham said. “There was still the understanding that his role was extremely important. But it wasn’t there at the time. The next year, scholarships were available. That was an area that I thought he could really benefit our program.”
Morovick said he began long-snapping his junior year of high school because “we had nobody to do it.” He said he initially never expected anything would come from the skill.
“Then I started getting better and word started to come in that there was a possibility I could get a scholarship out of it,” Morovick said. “So I kept working hard at it. It’s not as easy as it looks. It’s a lot of work. You wouldn’t think so, but there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff you have to do.”
Morovick enrolled at Washington during winter quarter so that he would be available when spring practice began. He said he’s been working out with the kickers since he arrived, and is excited about being back on the field for the first time in two years.
“I questioned if sitting out was a good decision,” Morovick said. “There was a chance that I might not get another chance. But it has turned out exactly the way I wanted it to.”