Randy Jones so impressed University of Washington coaches that he became only the second placekicker in school history to be given a scholarship as an incoming freshman.
But it’s been a struggle ever since for Jones - a Parade All-American in 1994 at Spokane’s Ferris High School. He red-shirted his first season, then made token appearances last year, making six extra points.
Now he’s locked in a three-way battle for the UW placekicking job with invited walk-ons Nick Lentz of Tacoma’s Curtis High and Jim Skurski of O’Dea.
Jones wasn’t helped Tuesday when he jammed his foot in the turf, forcing him to miss Wednesday’s first day of full-pad workouts, and probably several more practices.
“He can’t afford to lose the time because the other two guys are looking real good,” UW coach Jim Lambright said.
There’s still time, though, since Lambright said the job will be largely decided by performances in scrimmages - the first is Saturday - and other competitive situations.
Much like the punting, placekicking has been a problem the past few years as John Wales suffered through bouts of inconsistency last season, making only 8 of 16 kicks.
Lambright felt, though, that Jones was finally beginning to show the potential that made him so coveted in high school before he was injured.
“He was doing fine,” Lambright said. “I liked the strength of his leg.”
Lambright said he felt Jones was finally beginning to learn how to kick off the ground, as opposed to off a tee.
“He had a hard time adjusting to the AstroTurf and kicking without a tee,” Lambright said.
Skurski and Lentz each kicked for state champion teams during their careers - Skurski kicked field goals of 53 and 54 yards at O’Dea, and Lentz was 9 for 10 at Curtis last year.
Olson doing well
It rained so hard on the Huskies during their afternoon practice Wednesday that quarterback Brock Huard was led to ask if it was August or October.
But the wet weather didn’t cause any injuries, and Lambright was heartened by the way All-American guard Benji Olson - who had off-season back surgery - made it through the workout. Olson still is limited in his work, but Lambright said that Olson could be back to full two-a-days by next week.
Backup rover Alex Hollowell continues to sit out practices while the team waits to find out exactly what is wrong with his knee… . Sophomore nose tackle Kurth Connell has been limited lately by a slightly pulled hamstring.