SEATTLE – If Cort Dennison or Jermaine Kearse are beginning to feel nostalgic, they won’t admit it.
The Huskies seniors’ practice days – at least at Washington – are quickly coming to an end. The Huskies have just two more workouts – today and Monday – at Montlake followed by a few days off before flying to San Antonio on Dec. 23.
Dennison gave a funny look and shook his head when asked about it. For him, there is no time to reminisce. He’s trying to help prepare the defense for perhaps its biggest test of the season.
“Their numbers don’t lie, they do so many things well,” he said of Baylor, the Huskies’ oppenent in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29. “They pick you apart on the run game and then you bite on the run and there’s play-action passes over the top. They’ve got one of the best players in the country at quarterback (Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III) and he can do so many things, running and passing the ball. I think the thing that gets misconstrued about them is that they’re not just a one-man offense. They got plenty of good players and it’s going to be a real challenge for us.”
Dennison and the Huskies have practiced as if that was the case the past two days. They were in full gear and getting after it at a high level.
“I thought today was good intensity,’’ coach Steve Sarkisian said. “It was our second straight day in full pads. I thought the guys really brought a lot of energy, I think they enjoy this time of year – school’s over, we’re practicing in the morning, we get inside. A lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm and they’re playing hard.”
In a sign of how tough and physical the practices have been, Dennison was headed to his favorite post-practice routine, which consists of sitting in a tub of ice water.
“These practices are going to be tough,” he said. “We had a great practice, a really up-tempo, physical practice so I’m going to go sit in the ice bath again.”
The little bit of time off has allowed Dennison, who was as beat up as any player, to get healthy. He was moving considerably better this week.
“I’m a lot healthier than I was at the beginning of the year,” he said.
Kearse is taking a similar approach to his remaining practices. It might hit him more a little later, he said.
“I’m really just trying to focus on each practice,” he said. “We have a lot left to do. But the days are winding down.”
While the defense has the monumental task of trying to slow Griffin and the Baylor attack, the Huskies offense needs to find a way to keep up with the Bears.
Sarkisian has liked what he’s seen from his seniors in terms of focus and purpose in their final practices.
“I think they’re handling it really well,’’ he said. “They’re having fun with it. I think the rest of the team is having fun with them. I just brought them out for a little talk there, but we’ll embrace them at the right times and right opportunities on the last day we leave here and ultimately our last practice when we get down to San Antonio.”
VISITORS TO UW
A youth football team from Edmonds took in Saturday’s practice at the Dempsey Indoor practice facility. The young players were clad in their jerseys and watched intently, particularly during the full-team scrimmages. A few hard hits drew oohs and aahs, as did a fantastic catch by Jesse Callier.
Sarkisian talked to the kids after practice, posed for pictures and signed autographs.
But did he offer any words of wisdom?
“The words of advice are watching our guys practice,” he said. “So many of them know these kids just from the community and whatnot so it’s pretty cool that they are out here.”
Kasen Williams signed autographs and posed for pictures as well.
“This is great for them,” he said. “We were all like them once.”
JUCO DT COMMITS
The Huskies got another addition to their upcoming recruiting class by way of verbal commitment from junior college defensive tackle Josh Banks. The native of Stockton, Calif., confirmed his decision to his hometown paper, the Stockton Record.
“When I went there I just really liked it,” Banks told the newspaper. “Then the coaches came here and talked with my family, and I decided it was time to be done with the process.”
At 6-3, 270 pounds, Stockton was named a standout at Delta College, a junior college in the San Joaquin Valley. He racked up 32 tackles with 151/2 tackles for losses and 71/2 sacks.
Banks originally committed to Nevada as a senior at St. Mary’s High, but he never suited up for the Wolf Pack and enrolled at Delta instead. He had offers from Nevada, Oregon State, Iowa State, Fresno State, Washington State and Boise State as well, but he told the paper his decision came down to Washington and Oregon State. He made official visits to both schools. He decided after meeting with Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Nick Holt on Monday.
Safety Will Shamburger continued to wear the red no-contact jersey in practice. He has been bothered by a stinger. … Fellow free safety Greg Walker was not at practice and was tending to an academic commitment. The senior is an outstanding student with a goal of being a physician. … Washington has just over 500 tickets remaining of its 9,500 distributed for the Alamo Bowl. … It won’t be all work in San Antonio. The team will visit SeaWorld and attend a bowl-sponsored barbecue. … The Alamo Bowl will be officiated by a crew from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The NCAA does not permit officiating crews from the conferences of either bowl participant.