Jimmy Lake: 'We're Going to Have a Season -- and a Memorable One'
University of Washington spring football was supposed to begin this week. A month of practices, capped off with a festive, well-attended spring game on April 25. A huge event.
Instead, Huskies coach Jimmy Lake is confined to his Seattle-area home with his family, conducting team business virtually, hoping for a resolution to the pandemic that has brought the world to an utter standstill.
While speaking with local reporters by conference call on Tuesday, Lake spoke wistfully of having his team together in 45 to 60 days to resume normal operations.
With so much unknown for the coming months because of global health concerns, Lake was asked whether he had considered the possibility of no football season being played at all this fall. The Huskies are scheduled to open against Michigan at home on Sept. 5.
"I have not," he said. "I'm the ultimate optimist. I'm always keeping things on the positive side. The way I look at it, in my mind, in some time in early June or the middle of June, we're going to get back together here.
"At this point, I think we're going to have a season and it's going to be a memorable one."
Meantime, Lake and his staff are encouraging UW players to diligently work out and stay in shape on their own in the mornings and handle their Spring Quarter classwork online in the afternoons.
This includes four early freshman enrollees, all offensive players, in quarterback Ethan Garbers, offensive guard Geirean Hatchett and tight ends Mark Redman and Mason West, who remain at home in California and Washington.
"We're not going to make any excuses for any adversity we have to go through," Lake said. "The whole team is going to come out a lot stronger because we're going to make it through an extreme amount of accountability."
Lake said he had personally called and spoken to nearly every one of the 106 players on the Huskies roster.
He spoke about the leadership roles assumed by senior cornerback Elijah Molden and senior defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike, both returning first-team All-Pac-12 selections, before everything shut down.
Lake addressed the quarterback competition that will involve returning backup and sophomore Jacob Sirmon, redshirt freshman Dylan Morris and Garbers. The coach said the newcomer is learning the position through Zoom meetings with his coaches.
"It's going to be exciting to watch guys compete," he said. "The quarterback competition is going to be a highly attractive competition."
While the secondary is one of the team strengths, Lake said the four incoming freshmen defensive backs -- safeties Jacobe Covington and Makell Esteen, and corners Elijah Jackson and James Smith -- should challenge for jobs when fall camp begins.
"The competition is going to keep everyone on their toes," he said. "The four signees could play on day one. They're going to come in and push those guys."
Recruiting continues through the practice impasse, and Lake shared how he's called or texted far more prospective recruits than usual since his team isn't in formal spring workouts.
He said the campus shutdowns nationwide have forced the prospects themselves to do more research on their prospective schools, which will make for more informed decisions.
A few months back, as shown in the video, Lake spoke to a UW basketball crowd about Husky football momentum, an enhanced spring game and Michigan. He had no idea what was coming to slow it all down.
"My first thought is just the safety of the team and our staff and doing what's right to get this pandemic under control," Lake said. "We have no idea what's going to happen in the next month or next two months. Hopefully we will get back to some normalcy."