Injury ends punter Will Mahan's season
Kiel Rasp, a former Nathan Hale High School kicker, will take over as UW punter after a season-ending injury to Will Mahan.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Will Mahan stood on crutches at the 50-yard line on the south side of Husky Stadium Wednesday, looking at a University of Washington football team that's going to go on without him in 2010.
Mahan, a senior punter who averaged 40.6 yards last year out of junior college, suffered tears to his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments late in Tuesday's practice and will be out for the season.
"He'll be having surgery in a week or two, depending on the swelling and how that goes down," said UW coach Steve Sarkisian.
Mahan was rolled into by a teammate during a late-practice drill and was initially diagnosed with a knee sprain. But further checks showed the serious damage.
"It's unfortunate," Sarkisian said. "It was a routine drill, a drill we do every day, and it was the last punt of the day for him. It was kind of a freak accident."
Mahan's backup is walk-on Kiel Rasp, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior from Nathan Hale High who was with the team last year but has never punted in a college game.
"He's got a great leg. He's been terrific all training camp," Sarkisian said. "The key is, you've just got to go into a game and catch the ball and punt it, which he hasn't had to do. Sooner or later, we all have to experience (performing under pressure). He's given us all the confidence he can do that."
Rasp, who wasn't made available to the media, backed up Mahan last year but wasn't on the squad in the spring as Sarkisian said he was "contemplating playing or not playing."
The Huskies then invited in a walk-on from Puyallup High, Sean Halligan, who was only in fall camp briefly before leaving with a medical issue. At that point, the UW recalled Rasp.
Sarkisian says Rasp's speed in launching punts is "fine," although that has sometimes troubled him in the past.
"The thing he provides at times is a bigger leg than Will," Sarkisian said. But he added that consistency is the important issue.
The Huskies should be able to gain a medical redshirt for Mahan, because he has punted only in the BYU opener, in which he averaged 45.2 yards on six kicks.
"We're going to do all we can," Sarkisian said. "He deserves it."
When somebody mentioned the notion of having quarterback Jake Locker "pull a Billy Joe Hobert" — the former UW quarterback could also punt — Sarkisian said, "I don't know."
He said the Huskies have "a couple of other options," but they don't include placekickers Erik Folk or Eric Guttorp.
Washington's backup punter is actually at Oregon, in the person of freshman Alejandro Maldonado. A product of Colton, Calif., Maldonado is a kicker/punter who committed to the Huskies in 2009 but then reversed field and signed with the Ducks.
• RB Johri Fogerson has a hip flexor strain and Sarkisian termed him "really doubtful" for the Syracuse game Saturday at Husky Stadium. "It's not allowing him to run, and he's got no explosiveness at all," Sarkisian said. • Freshman RB Jesse Callier said he was "shaking" with anticipation in the BYU opener, but a 39-yard run on an early draw play eased his nervousness. "I believe your first impression is supposed to be your best impression," said Callier, who figures more prominently with Fogerson probably out, atop a fall-camp injury to touted freshman Deontae Cooper.
• Wideout-turned-cornerback Anthony Boyles saw snaps at receiver and safety Taz Stevenson got work as a running back for the second straight day. Sarkisian said he wants to create versatility for games in which the Pac-10's 70-man travel squad is in effect.
• Sarkisian, who said Monday he wanted more physical play from the offensive line, softened somewhat on that, saying, "I just want us on the same page. Ultimately, you can be physical if you really know what you're doing and you're on the same page with the guy next to you." He said the line has responded well in practice.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or email@example.com
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