SEATTLE – In any fall football camp, there is level of attrition to the roster – be it from injuries, players leaving the program or players being asked to the leave the program.
The Washington Huskies hit the trifecta this year.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian announced Thursday morning that running back Willis Wilson and tight end Joshua Perkins have been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.
Sarkisian would not go into details.
Wilson, a Lakes High grad, was a sophomore walk-on pushing for playing time. With Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey vying for the spot vacated by Chris Polk, Wilson was making a positive impression at practice and getting carries with the second-team offense.
With Wilson’s dismissal and the season-ending injury to Deontae Cooper, it leaves redshirt freshman Dezden Petty, walk-on redshirt freshman Cole Sager and true freshman Erich Wilson II as the remaining depth at the position.
“We know who our primary backs are,” Sarkisian said. “We have to be smart in how we practice. I think we know how to do that. Obviously, there are opportunities for guys to emerge and do things. I think Dezden Petty has come on the last week. I talked about Erich Wilson at length about what he’s done so far in camp.
“It’s not ideal like a couple of other positions we have on our roster, but something that we just have to monitor. But I feel good about the guys that we have.”
Perkins was a receiver who redshirted last season. Before fall camp, coaches moved him to tight end/H-back. And while he struggled with blocking on the line of scrimmage, he had been productive catching passes from the slot.
To offset his departure, sophomore walk-on defensive end Alec Kimble has been converted to tight end. The Eastside Catholic grad was a receiver in high school.
“I think he can compete there,” Sarkisian said. “In high school, he caught a lot of balls as a wide receiver type. He’s a great body type.
“He’s in a little bit of a logjam on the defensive side of the ball, and we feel like he can help us on offense.”
But the dismissals weren’t the only issue at Thursday’s sun-drenched and steamy practice.
Starting wide receiver James Johnson and sophomore linebacker Jamaal Kearse, a major contributor last season, were not dressed for practice because of injuries.
Johnson had a splint on his wrist that was heavily wrapped, and Kearse was wearing a walking boot and using crutches.
Sarkisian said Johnson had suffered a dislocated wrist, while Kearse had a stress fracture in the tibia of his left leg.
It was stunning turn because Johnson and Kearse both practiced fully Wednesday, and practiced well.
Johnson had been limited for the past four or five practices with a sprained foot. But he seemed excited to be back on the field and made several nice catches.
“It’s really nice to be back out there with my teammates,” Johnson said Wednesday after practice. “What I’ve learned is just to stay positive and focus on getting healthy. That’s what I did, and I think that’s why I got back out here a lot quicker.”
Kearse saw plenty of reps, even playing some middle linebacker with the second-team defense as a replacement for injured Thomas Tutogi.
Sarkisian said there wasn’t an immediate timetable for their return.
“I don’t know enough right now, it happened in last night’s practices pretty late,” he said. “So it’s hard to get everything done by now, so hopefully I have more information … (today).”
The loss of Johnson is a bit of a concern. He is one of the most experienced receivers and a top playmaker. With Sarkisian choosing to give Kasen Williams a day off Thursday, redshirt senior Cody Bruns, sophomore DiAndre Campbell and true freshmen Kendyl Taylor and Jaydon Mickens got most of the reps with the first-team offense.
“We’ve got some pretty quality guys,” Sarkisian said of his depth at receiver. “It’s a deep group and it’s a talented group so I’m not nearly as concerned at that spot as maybe some of the other ones.”
Sarkisian decided to make players unavailable to the media after the short, 1-hour, 45-minute practice. Instead, coaches and players went for a dip in Lake Washington to cool down from temperatures that were well over 90 degrees on the turf surface of the East Practice Field. ... Freshman safety Shaq Thompson returned to practice wearing a yellow non-contact jersey after missing the past few workouts with a concussion. He made his presence felt early in the 11-on-11 drill, jumping a swing pass from quarterback Keith Price for an interception and returning it 70 yards for a touchdown. Thompson was at the first-team safety spot of Justin Glenn, who missed this fourth day of practice because of a concussion. ... Walk-on freshman Michael Kneip has worked his way into the second-team offensive line, seeing plenty of snaps at firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8483 blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @RyanDivish