August 13, 2011 in Sports

Huskies depending on linebackers to fill need at fullback

Scott M. Johnson Everett Herald
 
Associated Press photo

When QB Nick Montana looks for a fullback to throw to, that back will likely be a converted linebacker.
(Full-size photo)

SEATTLE – In the latter stages of the University of Washington’s first football practice in full pads Friday evening, backup quarterback Nick Montana rolled to his left and delivered a perfect strike into the end zone, giving a guy wearing No. 50 his first touchdown of fall camp.

That a UW quarterback was throwing to a No. 50 – freshman Nick Holt, who opened camp as a linebacker – was only slightly more surprising than the fact that one was throwing to a Husky fullback.

The fullback position that has been phased out of offenses throughout the country may be making a similar disappearing act at UW this year. Injuries, graduation and youth have left the Huskies with very few options at the position, meaning more two-tight-end and dual-tailback sets this season.

“You adapt to your strengths as an offense,” running backs coach Joel Thomas said earlier this week.

The past two years have seen the Huskies get spot contributions out of Paul Homer (in 2009) and Austin Sylvester and Dorson Boyce (in 2010), but all three players have since graduated. Projected starter Zach Fogerson effectively retired in the spring because of concussions, leaving UW with a stable of untested players at the position.

The Huskies are so thin at fullback that their top two options at fall camp have been converted linebackers. Junior Jonathan Amosa was a walk-on linebacker until he saw an opportunity and offered to change positions in the spring. Holt, a true freshman who played quarterback, tailback and linebacker at Seattle Prep High School, moved from linebacker to fullback on the second day of training camp.

If his name sounds familiar, it’s because Holt is the son of UW’s defensive coordinator, who shares the same name. The elder Holt quipped that his son is “a little faster than I was; I’m better-looking, though.”

The younger Holt is one of three true freshmen – Dezden Petty and walk-on Travon Brooks are the others – vying for playing time at fullback, and it seems safe to assume that the Huskies wouldn’t mind redshirting all three of them if the circumstances allowed.

That leaves Amosa, who, like the freshmen, has yet to play in a college game.

Notes

Punter Will Mahan had one of his best days of camp Friday, but it still looks like his battle with Kiel Rasp is a dead heat. … Freshmen Danny Shelton, a defensive tackle, and Bishop Sankey, a freshman halfback from Gonzaga Prep, saw extensive time with the first team Friday. Shelton played alongside senior Alameda Ta’amu, giving the Huskies a chance to move Everette Thompson outside. Sankey got the bulk of the carries so junior Chris Polk could get some rest.


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