University of Washington

Boyce may get on field as fullback

The University of Washington football team has reached the midway point of its 2010 spring camp, meaning some key position switches are halfway into their development.

It’s no secret Dorson Boyce struggled to find a spot on the field last season. He was the No. 3 tight end behind Kavario Middleton and Chris Izbicki, but arguably the best blocker of the three.

Seemingly every week, UW coach Steve Sarkisian noted the staff was searching for a way to get the New York native, a transfer from a California junior college, more snaps. Opportunities rarely materialized – he played in seven games, mostly on special teams.

Well into this offseason, all parties thought they had discovered a solution – at least for the time being – by moving him to fullback.

“He’s a talented kid, he’s physical and he’s a very good blocker,” Sarkisian said. “Looking at him, I don’t know if it’s going to be a perfect fit or not – that remains to be seen. I think he has the attributes that fit … that position.”

The move made sense from a personnel standpoint. Middleton and Izbicki will be juniors in eligibility, and the offensive coaches are intrigued by the progress redshirt freshman Marlion Barnett has made over the winter.

At fullback, Paul Homer graduated. Austin Sylvester returns as the No. 1 guy, but redshirt freshman Kimo Makaula represents scant experience behind him.

Running backs coach Joel Thomas approached Boyce about the position switch in January.

“I said, ‘Anything to help the team, or to get on the field,’ ” Boyce said.

A quiet criticism of Boyce last season was that he never caught on fully to Sarkisian’s playbook, and that was a hindrance in finding him playing time.

Boyce said there was merit to that view.

“The biggest thing for me was missing spring last year due to some issues with my family and grades,” Boyce said. “When I came in, I was a step behind because … I didn’t get the plays down, and the concepts down with the speed of the game. … When I came back in fall, I was always a step behind the guys who were here.”

Boyce, now a senior-to-be, immediately knew who to consult – and on occasion, hound – about picking up the nuances of being a fullback, especially in an offense that will give the lead blocking back 30 to 40 passes a season.

“Yeah, that first day in (shoulder) pads, I was going up to him, nagging him to give me tips,” Boyce said. “It’s another learning curve I’m going through now.

“I honestly think it fits me well. I’m kind of the H-back. I’m kind of like a hybrid. Now that I know the plays, the coaching staff feels more comfortable with me.”

Todd Milles: 253-597-8442