SEATTLE — Following Washington’s first fall practice on Friday, head coach Jimmy Lake was asked when he’d like to decide on a starting quarterback.
But for the most part, it sounds like he already has.
“Well Dylan Morris is our starter. Dylan Morris is our starter, so it sounds solidified to me,” Lake said. “Like I told you guys down in Los Angeles (for Pac-12 Media Days last week), everybody on our team who is a starter or a returning starter, if they decide to slip and not play as well and someone plays better than them — at corner, at left tackle, at center, at quarterback, at wide receiver, at linebacker, punter, kicker, every single position — if someone eventually plays better than them during training camp then they all have a chance to be replaced.
“But I feel very confident in our quarterback position right now, and Dylan Morris is our starter. We have two guys behind him who are very, very talented, and I’m excited to see what they do.”
Lake certainly provided more clarity on Friday than he did the previous fall, when the Huskies’ first-year head coach declined to name a starter before Morris took the opening snap against Oregon State on Nov. 14. In an abbreviated four-game sprint, Morris — a 6-foot, 200-pounder from Puyallup — threw for 897 yards with six total touchdowns and three interceptions, leading UW to a 3-1 record and a Pac-12 North crown.
Last spring, Morris took the vast majority of first-team reps, with graduate transfer Patrick O’Brien and five-star freshman Sam Huard working in behind him. O’Brien — a 6-5, 230-pound sixth-year senior — joined the program this offseason after throwing for 3,394 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions in the last two seasons at Colorado State.
Huard, meanwhile, enrolled early last spring after setting the state record for career passing yards (13,214 yards) in three-plus seasons at Kennedy Catholic. The 6-2, 190-pound UW legacy was ranked as a five-star recruit and the No. 3 quarterback nationally in the 2021 class by 247Sports.
But unless O’Brien or Huard make significant strides in the next four weeks, expect Morris — a former Graham-Kapowsin High School standout — to line up under center against Montana on Sept. 4.
“I’m expecting (Morris) to play better than he did in 2020, because he’s a year older, a year wiser, and he’s heard the plays and heard the calls,” Lake said. “We’re expecting him to do that.”
Ah You and Latu leave team
A pair of UW inside linebackers — redshirt freshman Miki Ah You and true freshman Will Latu — have left the program, Lake announced Friday.
“Unfortunately Miki Ah You and Will Latu have both had some personal and family issues that they’re dealing with,” Lake said. “They’re no longer going to be part of our football team. We wish both of them the best.”
When asked if either player could conceivably rejoin the program in the future, Lake added: “I wouldn’t say the door is closed at all (on their return), but we’re really respectful of what they’re dealing with. We pray for them to get themselves better and their family better. The door is definitely not closed, but we don’t think they’ll be a part of their team this fall for sure.”
A 6-0, 210-pound redshirt freshman from Kahuku, Hawaii, Ah You arrived in 2019 and did not play in his first two seasons in Seattle. Latu — a 6-0, 260-pounder from Bethel High School — was ranked as a four-star recruit and the No. 11 player in the state of Washington when he signed with UW last December.
At inside linebacker, UW returns a pair of sophomore starters in Edefuan Ulofoshio and Jackson Sirmon, as well as sophomore M.J. Tafisi, redshirt freshmen Alphonzo Tuputala and Daniel Hemuli and second-year freshman Carson Bruener. Lake said “we’re still in a good spot depth-wise.”
The 6-2, 230-pound Bruener signed in 2020 as an inside linebacker, before shifting outside last spring. Now it certainly appears he’ll resurface at his original position.
“There’s a guy that can swing back and forth. But Carson Bruener will play more inside linebacker for us,” Lake said. “But we’ll still be able to put him at outside linebacker. On both sides of the ball, I like guys to be able to play different positions to help out for injuries. The more things you can do, we can get you on the football field. Carson’s one of those players. He’s extremely smart. He’s athletic. He can rush the passer. He can play inside linebacker for us. So right now you’re going to see him playing way more inside.”