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Originally published August 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 23, 2008 at 12:37 AM

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UW Football | Center Juan Garcia's foot holds up during scrimmage

Huskies center Juan Garcia's unbelievable recovery continues, and he is in position to play in Washington's football opener against Oregon.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Washington center Juan Garcia once hoped his injured left foot would leave him time for one last play, just one down this season so he could finish his Huskies career.

Now, it appears, he could be ready to line up for Washington's first play, when the Huskies open the season next Saturday against Oregon.

"I'm sure he's going to play," offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said. "I see him playing. I think he'll get on that field, definitely. We just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope it holds up."

His left foot, recovering from a Lisfranc fracture, held up Thursday in one of the most promising developments yet. Garcia estimated he took part in 80 percent of Thursday's scrimmage, the most involved he has been in all of preseason camp.

"Juan grinded away, and he did a good job," Lappano said.

Garcia woke up Friday morning without feeling any pain, and the soreness that plagued him at the beginning of camp has receded. He took part in both practices.

"The whole camp's been like that: hurdle after hurdle, to see if I can keep my mind right," Garcia said.

As with just about every position, UW has not cemented Garcia as the starter, and a depth chart won't be released until Monday. But four months ago, the thought of being ready for this game seemed ridiculous.

Before the Huskies' spring game April 24, Garcia was in front of five doctors with his foot in an ice bath. One after another, the medical experts stepped forward to tell him he should have surgery. That would have erased just about any chance of his playing this season. The thought made him angry. Garcia needed to keep that chance alive.

"I said, 'I believe in God and I'm not doing surgery,' " Garcia said.

This summer, he had his doubts. Occasionally, when it appeared his foot was making little progress, he wished he had had the surgery and moved on. But then August came around, and he was in camp.

"The whole time in camp, every day I'm thinking I'm not even supposed to be doing this," he said. "Just to be able to show up in camp and do the stuff I've done, it's pretty good."

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Garcia keeps pushing his recovery. Even though the coaches told him to not run outside of practice, that hasn't stopped him from trying. He tried running home from football meetings, but the coaches caught him and told him to stop. So then he tried to sneak in runs an hour before practice, but he got caught again.

So he decided he would run on campus — where coaches rarely roam — but the next day, coach Tyrone Willingham put his arm around Garcia and told him, "I don't want you running, period."

"I think they've got spies," Garcia said.

Notes

• QB Jake Locker sat out the Huskies' crimmage Thursday, the last of camp before the team begins to prepare for Oregon on Monday. "He took all the reps today in practice," Lappano said. "But there's no need to scrimmage him."

• Lappano said he expects six receivers to play regularly this season, and he singled out De'Andre Goodwin as the sure starter.

Tom Wyrwich: 206-515-5653 or twyrwich@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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