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Originally published Sunday, August 17, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Sizing up the Huskies football team at camp's midpoint

Saturday marked the halfway point of Washington's fall training camp — 13 days down, 13 days to go until the Aug. 30 opener at Oregon...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Saturday marked the halfway point of Washington's fall training camp — 13 days down, 13 days to go until the Aug. 30 opener at Oregon.

So a progress report by position seems in order:

Quarterback

No question here as to who the starter will be, only how healthy Jake Locker will be come Aug. 30. UW coach Tyrone Willingham said Saturday there is no doubt Locker will be ready to play against Oregon, saying he expects every player currently injured except one — walk-on linebacker T.J. Poe, who broke a clavicle — to face the Ducks. Locker sat out again Saturday, his ninth day on the sideline since straining his left hamstring Aug. 7.

In Locker's absence, redshirt freshman Ronnie Fouch has run the first-team offense, impressing coaches and teammates with his play and solidifying himself as the QB of the distant future.

Running back

Sophomore Brandon Johnson entered camp as the projected starter but has rarely practiced, limited of late by a lower-leg injury while also recovering from offseason knee surgery. That has opened the door for the team's Mr. Versatility, Chris Polk, to apparently move to the top of the depth chart at tailback. Polk, a true freshman who arrived last winter, was a slotback in the spring but has been largely a tailback this fall. Redshirt freshman Willie Griffin and true freshmen David Freeman and Johri Fogerson are also competing for time.

Fullback is one of the most concrete positions on the team with junior Paul Homer, the starter, backed up by senior Luke Kravitz.

Wide receiver

Coaches say a lot of the receiving spots remain wide open. Sophomore D'Andre Goodwin, the only player on the roster with a catch for the Huskies (six last year for 29 yards), appears set as one starter. Redshirt freshman Alvin Logan appears ahead for the other spot. UW coaches have been impressed by the play of all the true freshmen — Cody Bruns, Jermaine Kearse and Jordan Polk — and all figure to play this season. Anthony Boyles, one of the gems of the Class of 2007, is also in the mix, as is Devin Aguilar.

Tight end

Another position muddled somewhat by injury with starter Michael Gottlieb on the sideline with a hamstring injury. Fifth-year senior Walt Winter is the starter in his absence. The real story here may be the quick progression of true freshman Kavario Middleton, who is No. 3 at the spot and certain to see the field this season.

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Offensive line

One of the happy surprises of camp has been the quicker-than-expected recovery of center Juan Garcia, thought possibly lost for the season when he suffered a Lisfranc injury to his foot last spring. Now, Garcia may be back for the Oregon game, joining an inside rotation that could be the strength of the team along with senior guards Jordan White-Frisbee and Casey Bulyca and sophomore guard-center Ryan Tolar. Also in the mix is sophomore Matt Sedillo, who had been working as the No. 1 center before suffering a concussion last week. Those five will give UW plenty of options in the middle. Junior Ben Ossai is set at left tackle and sophomore Cody Habben at right tackle.

Defensive line

Still a big question mark, with only junior defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim returning. UW coaches like the play of many of the youngsters, but are still sorting out some roles, particularly in the middle — junior Darrion Jones seems pretty solid as the other end. But UW coaches also say starting designations here will be relatively meaningless as new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell envisions rotating liberally. The three true freshmen — end Everrette Thompson and tackles Alameda Ta'amu and the recently arrived Senio Kelemete — have a chance to play this season.

Linebackers

This spot took a hit before camp began with the news that E.J. Savannah is no longer on the roster. The Huskies appear set at the starting spots — former walk-on Josh Gage on the strong side, Mason Foster on the weak side, and Donald Butler in the middle. Senior Trenton Tuiasosopo and senior Chris Stevens should also see action.

Secondary

The moves made late in the spring appear to have stuck as former safeties Mesphin Forrester and Quinton Richardson look to have the upper hand at the cornerback spots, with sophomores Nate Williams and Victor Aiyewa manning the two safety positions. Cornerback looms as a much deeper position than in past years with experienced guys like Byron Davenport, Matt Mosley and Vonzell McDowell also in the mix. Darin Harris and former baseball player turned college football walk-on Tripper Johnson add to the depth at safety.

Special teams

The placekicking job is a three-man race between incumbent Ryan Perkins, redshirt freshman Erik Folk and Jared Ballman, who will be the team's punter. Goodwin appears to have the upper hand for the punt-returning job. Chris Polk and Jordan Polk are possible kick returners.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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