Sims getting his Junior college swag on.
Welcome to Spring football – The most exciting post-recruiting time of the year for college football fans. What exactly do we get out of this? Pre-position battles that will set up and supplement what happens in the fall, and my favorite thing, tinkering and experimentation.
For the Huskies the spring of 2012 is going to be a crucial one, since every defensive coach and their mom has been replaced with new, improved and much richer alternatives. Justin Wilcox, Peter Sirmon, Keith Heyward and Tosh Lupoi will now all get an opportunity to meet their veteran returners and get the schemes in place by the time the hot shot freshman arrive in the fall to put on the finishing touches.
But while all of you out there are fiending for information on the thrilling battles at Runningback, linebacker, defensive end and the defense in general, I am going to nitpick on what I find is one of the more interesting and odd tidbits of Steve Sarkisian’s opening press conference of the spring.
Defensive back Antavius Sims will be tried out at runningback/slotback.
For those who need a memory refresh, Sims was a commit to the class of 2011 from Ventura Junior College in California as an emergency quarterback, essentially, as Sark and co. were searching far and wide for a fourth scholarship quarterback. Sims was recruited as an “Athlete”, meaning the staff also had plans for him at other positions, mainly the defensive back field which was dangerously thin at the time. (Did you watch the Alamo Bowl? Yeah.)
Sims is an athlete in every sense of the word. He is 6’2″ and around 205 pounds, and is reported to have run around a 4.3 to 4.4 40-time. That is no joke, especially at the Pac-12 level.
At one point UW coaches touted that Sims was probably the second or third best corner on the team. Of course, that was also a time in which your other options were Gregory Ducre and Quinton Richardson.
Since then, the Dawgs have garnered commitments from highly touted west coast prep athletes Brandon Beaver and Cleveland Wallace.
But if Sims were in such a prime position to compete at a high level for a spot in a secondary that was God awful last season, why the haste to make the change to offense?
Here are some reasons we could look out for:
Will Jaydon Mickens qualify? – Mickens, who committed to Washington over Oklahoma State the night before signing day, projects to be a speedster slot receiver/scat back type player for the Husky offense, and would presumably be in the mix for early playing time even as a freshman. Rumblings are that academics could be an issue, which is why the Oregon Ducks backed off their recruitment of him even though Mickens was high on the Ducks. Sims could replace that role on offense if Mickens is not present.
Health of Dontae Cooper – Cooper has been a workout warrior for the Huskies, and even two seasons ago was primed to at the very least take over the back up role from Chris Polk in the husky backfield. Fans and coaches alike lauded both the physical inside the tackles running ability paired with the burst he showed out of the hole. But two ACL injuries later and Cooper is hoping to just be in the mix at all by the time fall comes around. The Huskies are really only two deep at back with Callier and Sankey in terms of veterans for the spring. Sims could provide a very real alternative as insurance for an absence from Cooper.
The kids in the secondary will play – It is no secret as to why the Huskies attacked the secondary hard in recruiting. The unit was awful. The class recruited in 2012 to replace the awful incumbents? Not so much. The only two players who should be feeling any kind of comfortableness in that unit are Senior Desmond Trufant and returning starter at Strong safety Sean Parker. Shaq Thompson will very much be in the mix in the fall, most likely at strong safety, while Brandon Beaver and Cleveland Wallace both project to be in play at the corner spots. Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox mentioned using nickel and dime defenses as much as possible in order to get his best athletes on the field as much as possible.
Also keep in mind redshirt freshman safety James Sample, an Army All-American out of high school. Ironically enough, Sample is Shaq Thompson’s best friend, but Shaq’s commitment may have prevented Sample from much playing time at the safety spot. Instead, keep an eye out for Sample to be tried out at one of those slot corner positions. Or, keep an eye out for him, or veteran players such as Will Shamburger or Nate Fellner to get some tinkering with at outside linebacker type positions in said Nickel and Dime packages.
Either way, the secondary is going to be an extremely exciting part of the defense to watch this Spring and fall, and the movement of Sims to offense can only tell us that the coaches are excited about the depth they have at those positions.