A year ago, new University of Washington freshmen football players arrived at school at the height of a pandemic, masked up, uncertain how many practices or games they would get in. Or if they could stay healthy.
Certainly, there was no celebration of their arrival, no group photo ops, no crewhouse festivities. Rather they were introduced to strict COVID-19 testing and other athletic-department protocols.
This weekend, there were signs that the virus apocalypse is fast moving behind everyone pulling on shoulder pads and a helmet.
The Huskies welcomed 10 freshmen football players from their class of 2021 on campus, plus a graduate transfer, and everyone went through all rituals in making these newcomers feel at home.
Checking in were first-year players Dyson McCutcheon, Vince Nunley, Zakhari Spears and Davon Banks, all defensive backs; Maurice Heims and Siosi Finau, defensive linemen; offensive linemen Robert Wyrsch and Owen Prentice; inside linebacker Will Latu; and wide receiver Jabez Tinae, plus Michigan transfer Giles Jackson, a kick returner and another wide receiver.
Newcomers already in the fold who took part in spring football practice were quarterback Sam Huard, tight end Caden Jumper and defensive linemen Kuao Peihopa and Voi Tunuufi, plus junior-college tight end Quentin Moore.
There was music, food and frivolity alongside the Lake Washington shoreline, with the UW band and cheerleaders taking part.
Secondary coach Will Harris greeted four new defensive backs into the Huskies' most nationally reputable and competitive position area. Harris no doubt will encourage each and every one of them to become an NFL prospect.
Continually restocking the offensive line, the Huskies added a Californian and a Seattleite in Wyrsch and Prentice. One's a late bloomer, the other a highly sought- after prospect.
A late addition to the 2021 class was Davon Banks, a California defensive back who got lost in the recruiting shuffle because of two knee injuries and the pandemic piling on. He appears to be physically sound, if not extremely fast now, hence an urgent scholarship offer.
Wyrsch arrived from Capitola, California, considered someone just growing into his body. He still showed up packing a 6-foot-7, 285-pound frame. He easily should become a 300-pounder when he's ready to go.
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