Perhaps Keary Colbert was already being a coach, and he didn't even realize it.
Long regarded as one of the best receivers to come out of the University of Southern California – and at one point, the school’s all-time receptions leader – Colbert bounced around the NFL for five years.
One of the four teams he played for was the Seattle Seahawks – albeit briefly – in 2008.
It was last winter, after Colbert finished up a stint in the United Football League with the Florida Tuskers, that he began his offseason training regimen with former USC teammate Mike Williams.
That’s when he started noticing a startling transformation – not in himself, but the guy with whom he stood side-by-side for hours at a time in the gym.
“I was with him when he first started his road back. We put in a lot of good work together,” Colbert said. “It took a lot of discipline.”
Williams’ remarkable story is now very familiar in Seattle. Contacted by Pete Carroll, his former college coach, he signed with the Seahawks, and has become one of the team’s starting receivers.
“He deserves what he gets right now,” Colbert said.
Colbert is in a good place right now, too – just not where he thought he’d be. Garnering no NFL attention, the 28-year-old instead was hired last March as a graduate assistant by new USC coach Lane Kiffin.
Colbert is coaching tight ends, the same position Kiffin oversaw in his first year at USC in 2001.
“Excellent football player, and part of the reason why was because he had a really high football IQ. He reminds me a lot of Jermaine (Kearse) and Devin (Aguilar) – that style of guy,” said UW coach Steve Sarkisian, who was on the USC staff when Colbert played there.
“The NFL ... sometimes it stands for ‘Not For Long.’ It can go quick. But Keary was a guy who always wanted to be a coach when he was a player. And as soon as he got done, he knew exactly what he wanted to do.”
Colbert knows the passing game, a huge asset to the trio of Rhett Ellison, Jordan Cameron and Blake Ayles, who combined to catch 13 passes last season.
“The skills and attributes receivers use are something I can share in terms of routes and catching the ball,” Colbert said. “But there are things I had to learn in terms of blocking, and rules in the run game.”
So, Colbert went through his own spring camp, studying with Kiffin, offensive line coach James Cregg, offensive coordinator Kennedy Pola and passing game coordinator Johnny Morton.
“Realistically, all the coaches, I’ve been able to lean on their expertise,” Colbert said. “They’ve been with the best.
“It’s been a big learning experience, and things are a lot better now as opposed to last spring when I was just learning, thrown into the fire a little bit.”
UW cornerback Anthony Boyles (sprained ankle), who did not practice Thursday, will also not travel to USC. He was not with the team at Brigham Young to begin the season. ... Safety Victor Aiyewa (fractured finger) was back and practiced fully a day after leaving early with the injury. ...
Running back Johri Fogerson (upper leg) will not play Saturday. ... From Husky Stadium, for a fourth consecutive day, the “Tribute to Troy” fight song could be heard along Montlake Boulevard throughout practice.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 firstname.lastname@example.org