Asa Turner and Alex Cook were last year's starting safeties for the University of Washington for three games before all-purpose defensive back Elijah Molden replaced Cook in the season-ender.
While Molden awaits his name to be called in the NFL draft, which begins tonight, Turner and Cook have missed most of the Huskies' spring football practice with undisclosed injuries as everything builds to a conclusion on Saturday.
So where does the UW stand at safety, easily the team's most compelling competition right now?
At this point, it's a complete position makeover.
Pencil former starter Williams in at strong safety. A seven-game starter in 2019 before Turner took the job from him, the junior from Bakersfield, California, looks renewed, experienced and opportunistic to reclaim his spot.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Williams has pulled more snaps on the back row than anyone else through 13 spring practices.
It's the free safety spot opposite him where things get really interesting. Let us count the guys who have been screen-tested and had serious auditions as a first-unit safety so far.
Hampton, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior from Glendale, Arizona, made an immediate move for the job, by radically changing his physique to something a lot larger and transitioning over from cornerback. He's still pulling a lot of No. 1 reps, but he's not prevented the coaching staff from looking at others.
The son of a superb NFL cornerback, Leroy Irvin's son is a safety through and through. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior from Anaheim, California, is making a strong pitch for the job as the spring game approaches. He's apparently overcome multiple injuries that earlier slowed his progress. Coach Jimmy Lake says he's playing his best now.
This highly regarded defensive back received a lot of reps early on at free safety, but he's moved back to cornerback, where the redshirt freshman from Chandler, Arizona, has flourished by coming up with an interception nearly every practice. While he's still got safety size at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Covington's future appears to be at corner.
He's drawn the least amount of reps as a safety candidate with the No. 1 unit, but Esteen is still young. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound redshirt freshman from Hawthorne, California, is one of those guys honing technique. At the UW, it's either learn it or sit on game day until you do.
Outside of one Saturday scrimmage, the nine-game starting strong safety over two seasons has been a spring no-show. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior from Carlsbad, California, has some sort of foot injury. Turner has just not been involved much over the past month. It's not clear how his spring absence will hurt him going forward. He'll have to earn the spot again.
An exceptional athlete, Cook made the switch from wide receiver to free safety last season and started three games. However, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior from Sacramento wasn't a finished product and badly needed a spring to hone his skills. It didn't happen. He might stand to lose the most with the others pulling all the reps.
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