Clarence Trent makes quick switch from UW basketball court to football field
Trent, a backup forward on the Husky basketball team, participates in spring football as a defensive end. He remains on a basketball scholarship, but would be a redshirt freshman in football this fall.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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From the Sweet 16 in basketball last week to No. 97 on the football field this week, count Clarence Trent as the most intriguing newcomer when the Huskies opened spring practice Tuesday.
He was also the most surprising, making a move from the hardwood to the gridiron that few outside the inner circle knew until it was officially announced Tuesday.
But when practice began in the afternoon, there was Trent — a backup forward for the UW basketball team that saw its season end against West Virginia last Thursday in the round of 16 — working out with the football team as a defensive end.
UW football coach Steve Sarkisian said Trent approached UW basketball coach Lorenzo Romar early in the basketball season about playing football and Romar then talked about it with Sarkisian.
"We just thought 'let's wait until it's all over (to announce it),' " Sarkisian said. "There were some logistics to go through to make sure it was all possible."
That included figuring out where he fits scholarship wise — the NCAA has rules prohibiting schools from stashing football players on scholarships in other sports. UW officials clarified Tuesday night that for now, Trent remains on a basketball scholarship but could move to a football scholarship in the fall, particularly if he becomes a playing member of the team. In a statement, Romar said Trent plans to keep playing basketball.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder apparently hasn't played football since his freshman year at River Ridge High in Lacey. But the Huskies are in desperate need of defensive ends after injuries to Everrette Thompson and Kalani Aldrich that have them out for the spring, and the suspension of Andru Pulu after a recent assault arrest that has his UW future in doubt. Pulu pleaded not guilty Tuesday to second-degree assault.
"I think he's the right type of body type, he's the right type of athlete at the defensive-end spot that we're looking for: a long, rangy, athletic guy," Sarkisian said. "He hasn't played football in five years, so there's a lot of work to be done."
With the team's lack of numbers at defensive end, Trent got reps with the second unit Tuesday, though it was a no-pads, no-contact practice, so any real assessment of his play has to wait a little while.
"We've got to find out where he's at and what he's good at and what he needs to work on," Sarkisian said. "It was great for us. That's why it fit really well. To fill the need of the position and what he brings. There's just a lot of work to be done."
Per Sarkisian's policy limiting media contact with newcomers, Trent was not allowed to speak to the media.
Among the other newcomers were four true freshmen who were part of UW's recruiting class of 2010 — quarterback Nick Montana, middle linebacker Victor Burnett and running backs Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier.
Montana, son of Joe — who was not in evidence at the practice — will battle with redshirt freshman Keith Price for the backup spot behind Jake Locker.
Said Sarkisian of Montana: "Not a bad first day. I'm always nervous for guys, their first college practice, and one of the things I'm most proud of is that he didn't fumble a snap. Most freshman quarterbacks, they fumble two, three, four snaps. Another thing I was really proud of him, I loved his presence in the huddle. I loved his presence at the line of scrimmage. He was confident. Obviously an enormous amount of work to do but I loved what he brought from a stature standpoint."
Callier and Cooper will compete for time as backup tailbacks and will get a lot of work this spring with starter Chris Polk sitting out the spring to heal a shoulder that had offseason surgery. Sarkisian said Callier has "a nice feel for running the football. He got out on a couple of runs, just a slide to the left or a slide to the right to create some big plays."
• Tuesday's was the first of 15 spring practices for UW that will conclude with the Friday Night Lights spring game April 30 at 6:30 p.m. UW will next practice Thursday at 4 p.m. at Husky Stadium.
• Also sitting out practice this spring is starting OT Cody Habben, also recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. That has UW experimenting with Ryan Tolar moving from center to guard, Senio Kelemete from guard to tackle, and Drew Schaefer from tackle to center. Sarkisian said early returns Tuesday were positive.
• Marques Tuiasosopo is back as an assistant strength coach with the team and said that with his hopes of playing pro football again dwindling, he's beginning to view his UW position as a potentially long-term job.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com
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