April 2, 2012

Huskies' Price has spring in his step

With the tearing down of Husky Stadium serving as the backdrop, Keith Price had a brace on his left knee at the beginning of practice.

Part way through practice, it was gone.

On Monday morning, the Washington Huskies football team started spring football camp. The energy and enthusiasm of the team, and the coaches, was obvious.

"I thought, overall first impression, first practice, and not just comparing it to a first practice, but I thought the energy was really good," UW coach Steve Sarkisian said. "I thought the guys practiced efficiently, they were running the football, the effort was good, the enthusiasm was good."

Even the new coaching staff, especially Tosh Lupoi, was running around and yelling, almost doing the drills with the players.

After an offseason of rehab and rest, Price said he probably hasn't felt this good since his freshman year.

Price puts some of the blame for his knee injuries last season on himself.

"A lot of those things were on me," Price said. "Taking ill-advised sacks and not getting rid of the ball, and that's what happens when you don't get rid of the ball in this."

At the UW spring press conference last Friday, Sarkisian said this will be a focus for Price this season: coaching him to get rid of the ball so unnecessary sacks just don't happen.

But Sarkisian is happy to have his starting quarterback back and said he thinks Price looks great.

"Typical Keith in the sense obviously upbeat, very spirited, has a great deal of fun at practice," Sarkisian said. "I think he's one of the keys to the way we practice, quite honestly. I think part of it for Keith is he did some really, really good stuff, and maybe forced a couple balls here and there, but that's part of kind of figuring out what are your limits now. How far can I take this thing?"

Without key players such as Chris Polk, Devin Aguilar and Jermaine Kearse to look to, Price is already starting to strengthen his connection with players such as Jesse Callier, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Kasen Williams. And let's not forget Bishop Sankey, who will be battling it out with Callier for that tailback spot all season.

"(Williams) looks good out there. Jumping over guys, using his strength, and you can tell he's been in the weight room, so he's going to be a beast this year," Price said.

Williams, who said he put on 15 pounds since last season and feels stronger and faster, already feels a positive connection with Price.

"That's definitely a connection you're going to see a lot of this year," Williams said. "We got to make sure we're 100 percent with our steps and our routes and all that stuff. Timing's got to be perfect for us to be on the next level, and that's what we're going for."

As far Callier and Seferian-Jenkins, Price likes what he sees.

During practice, Callier looked fast and ready to be out there to take over Polk's spot. He even scored a touchdown.

"I think Jesse (Callier) looks real good," Price said. "Being patient, finding the holes. 88 (Seferian-Jenkins) even looked good coming off the basketball season, so I think we're going to be real fun this year."
The feeling is mutual, and these guys see Price's injuries as in the past.

"Keith looked better," Callier said. "He definitely looked better. He looks healthier. And that's just from training and our training staff. They helped him out a lot."

Seferian-Jenkins never seemed to have lost confidence in Price despite his injuries.

"Even with the knee problems, he's better than almost all the Pac-12 quarterbacks, so he's just going to be even better with no knee problems," Seferian-Jenkins said. "So watch out, he's going to be running all over the place and it's going to be fun and interesting to watch."

So although there is some worry about how this rebounded quarterback is going to make it work without Polk, Aguilar and Kearse, Price doesn't seem to let it bother him.

"It's definitely different … we moved on without Jake (Locker), so we got to move on without Chris (Polk)," Price said. "We'll find ways to make this thing successful…There's more coaching by me, getting the young guys up to speed, but these guys are just as athletic as those guys."

Overall, Sarkisian seemed happy with the first spring practice of 2012. Overall, the team seemed happy, too.

Price has confidence in his younger teammates and they have confidence in him.
Sarkisian said he thought Price looked explosive and strong. It's pretty safe to say Price would agree with that.

"I feel good. I'm ready to go," Price said.

Quick Hits:

-- The team will practice in full pads for the first time next Monday. …

-- These players made an impression Monday, and Sarkisian said they all looked good: Marvin Hall, Desmond Trufant, Greg Ducre, Marcus Peters, Sean Parker, John Timu, Bishop Sankey and Jesse Callier. He also said that although it was Antavius Sims's first day at running back and he is still trying to find his way, he looked good.

-- Austin Seferian-Jenkins didn't even miss a beat coming into spring football after playing basketball this winter, according to Sarkisian. ...

-- There is no depth chart as of now. "We're just playing ball," Sarkisian said.

-- Monday, No. 2 quarterback Derrick Brown got the most extensive reps since he's been on the team. Sarkisian said he looked good and that he made some good plays, and some bad ones, so it's just about growing up.

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