Washington has four more spring football practices remaining before the Spring Preview on April 27 at Husky Stadium.
Several players have stood out for the Huskies over the past month, some surprising and others not so much. Here is a look at four of them.
This one isn’t much of a shock.
Bryant was an ESPN Freshman All-American in 2017 as a tight end before a knee injury kept him out of all but five games last season. But even though he missed more than half of the year, Bryant still finished the 2018 season with 11 receptions for 238 yards, an average of 21.6 yards per catch. In 14 career games, Bryant has caught 33 passes for 569 yards and two touchdowns.
He’s been a favorite target for UW’s quarterbacks throughout spring practice. Now completely healthy, Bryant has been showing off his athleticism and ability to stretch the field. Unsurprisingly, he’ll be an important piece of the Huskies’ passing game this season.
“(Bryant’s) just a completely different weapon,” wide receiver Andre Baccellia said after Bryant had three catches for 108 yards and a touchdown in last season’s win over Washington State. “With his size and speed and just having him back and having him healthy, he’s just another weapon for our offense.”
Speaking of weapon’s for UW’s offense, sophomore receiverTerrell Bynum looks ready to become one.
Bynum was just a few months removed from a thumb surgery during spring practice last season and spent most of the year just getting healthy. That’s no longer the case . Bynum entered spring ready to make an impact and he’s shown flashes of his play-making ability already.
His most impressive play came during the Huskies’ first week of spring practice. During a team period, Jacob Sirmon launched a deep ball to Bynum along the right sideline. Both Bynum and redshirt freshman Kyler Gordon leapt for the ball, but it was Bynum who wrestled it away and held on as they crashed to the field.
“I’ve really been grinding day in and day out,” Bynum said. “So for me to finally see some progress, it’s a little bit of a relief.”
WIth wide receivers Ty Jones, Aaron Fuller and Quinten Pounds all missing from spring practice due to injury, Bynum has gotten more opportunities to perform this spring. Offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan said he’s seen more consistency from Bynum, and that comes from not thinking too much.
“That mental image comes to mind and then you just go play,” Hamdan said, “as opposed to thinking, ‘OK, what am I doing here? What’s the the defense?’ and before you know it, the ball is snapped the play is already over.”
The Huskies lost starting cornerbacks in Byron Murphy and Jordan Miller and starting safeties JoJo McIntosh and Taylor Rapp. The battle to fill those roles had Myles Bryant, who has played both nickelback and safety during spring practice, calling this group of defensive backs the most competitive he’s played with.
But at least one of those starting roles seemed wrapped up before spring even opened. While several defensive backs have played multiple positions this spring, Keith Taylor has been a staple with the No. 1 defense at cornerback. And for good reason.
Last season, defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said Taylor, along with Brandon McKinney and Elijah Molden, could have easily started for most teams in the country. Taylor played in all 14 games last season, starting against Cal and Stanford.
Taylor, who finished last season with 15 tackles and three passes defensed, has been a consistently high-level performer for the Huskies throughout spring practice. He looks primed to take a step forward and become a full-time starter this fall.
Early enrollee Cameron Williams has earned plenty of praise from Lake and head coach Chris Petersen. The freshman safety has worked mostly with the second-team defense, and he hasn’t looked much like a freshman.
Petersen said last week that Williams, who has at least a pair of interceptions this spring, has impressed him the most over the past few weeks. That’s mostly because of Williams’ mindset.
“He’s not overwhelmed,” Petersen said. “There’s a lot of new things coming at him and he’s just walked in, getting extra work when he can in between class, extra tape time and all that. He just keeps battling. To me, that’s just one of the keys to success in general when you can bring it like that. You can see it a mile away.”
While Williams will have a difficult time winning a starting job with McKinney and Bryant working as the No. 1 safeties, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him earn consistent playing time come fall.