Practice report - 4/14 PM

Reggie amazes (AP/John Froschauer)

The Huskies put their uniforms back on and continued spring practice this afternoon, two days after their first spring scrimmage. They worked out in shells for the first time in a week, but the limited-contact drills didn't end without several eye-popping plays.

Reggie Williams made, bar none, the best catch I've ever seen in person. It came from the right arm of Cody Pickett on a bomb thrown down the right sideline. Pickett dropped back, heaved up the pass, which appeared to be significantly overthrown, but the speedy Williams tracked it down, diving forward, and reeled it in with a one-handed catch.

Defenders Derrick Johnson, who was at full speed after spraining an ankle on Saturday, and B.J. Newberry couldn't have defended the play much better. They just had to shake their heads after watching No. 1 come down with the pigskin.

Williams just continued to impress, and is as unstoppable of force as the Washington passing game has ever had.

Not to be outdone was Charles Frederick, who turned in one highlight play after another to the delight of the coaches and few fans in the stands. He had a great snag of a deep ball thrown perfectly from Pickett, coming down beautifully into his outstretched hands.

Other times throughout the day, it was his YAC (Yards After Catch) that were even more impressive. His best play came in a one-on-one passing drill. Frederick was covered by Johnson, and after catching the pass on a comeback route from Casey Paus, the junior shook No. 21 out of his shoes. Later, Frederick did the same thing to Roc Alexander on a pass from Pickett.

For as much of a depth problem as the Huskies have at receiver, the two they have in the fold are a tough duo to beat.

The kickoff team got a new look as the first-team kickoff returners were Johnson and Alexander, two guys who came in together in 2000. Frederick, one of last year's starters along with the now-departed Nate Robinson, worked on the second-team with Matt Fountaine.

At tailback, the loss of Kenny James left the duties to junior Chris Singleton and redshirt freshman Shelton Sampson. Singleton had a terrible time catching the ball, dropping two passes. But he also managed the best run of the day, sprinting through the right side of the line untouched for a long run. He had the better day of the two backs, as Sampson struggled hanging on to the football out of the backfield.

On the offensive line, Francisco Tipoti continued to impress with his slimmed down frame and new-found athleticism. He's working as the back-up strong tackle behind Nick Newton.

Along with Todd Bachert, who is unable to participate in contact drills this spring while recovering from shoulder surgery, four others worked out at center: Rob Kezirian, Brad Vanneman, Clay Walker, and Dan Dicks. Vanneman, who had been wearing a red jersey during the first week and a half of spring, was at full speed for the first time. Dicks, who figures to play guard, spent time practicing snapping the ball.

Of the quarterback trio, all three had a pretty good day passing the ball. Pickett was on target about as well as we've seen him, throwing one arrow into a receivers hands after another. He was especially impressive on the deep passes today. Paus and Stanback each battled inconsistency, but had some impressive passes. They each have a hard time on flare pass out of the backfield.

Jimmy Newell had the play of the day on the defensive side of the ball. Late in practice in the 11 on 11's, he leaped in front of a poorly-read pass from Pickett for an interception. Healthier now than at any time in recent years, Newell has impressed head coach Rick Neuheisel and has a strong hold on the starting free safety position.

On the defensive line Junior Coffin continues to immerge, Terry Johnson is too fast too handle, and Stanley Daniels is starting to make some noise. Seemingly lost in the shuffle in his first three years with the team, Coffin appears to be a new player. He's battled back from a 2002 shoulder injury, and with Josh Miller out for the spring, has stepped up his game. Johnson has nearly become an unstoppable force in one-on-one drills, using his quickness and strength to get around those who stand in his way. Daniels had a break-out play today midway through practice. Big No. 74 busted through the line to get to Stanback before the quarterback could react.

In other news, Tui Alailefaleula was back on the defensive side of the ball today. Neuheisel had contemplated moving the junior defensive lineman from Anchorage to offense. The head coach said Alailefaluela showed enough in Saturday's scrimmage to merit further play on the defensive side of the ball.

Cornerbacks Chris Massey and Kim Taylor each put in solid performances Monday. Taylor lined up against the scout team receivers and made the most of it. He intercepted two passes, and nearly came down with a third on a diving deflection in the middle of the field. Massey had to match up with Reggie Williams several times, and stayed as close to the him as any cornerback has all spring. As a fifth-year senior, Massey has the knowledge of the system and speed necessary for a strong final season.

Notes:
Familiar Visitor: Former Husky linebacker, No. 31, Sam Blanche was down on the sidelines chatting with his old teammates during practice.

A Glimpse to the Future: Husky signees Taj Bomar and Carl Bonnell, both Kentwood graduates, attended practice today. Bomar wore his Conquerors letterman's jacket, and was easily recognizable.

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