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DiAndre Campbell and Connor Cree make name for themselves in UW spring football practice
When the Huskies concluded their practice Saturday with about a 65-play scrimmage, DiAndre Campbell and Connor Cree were each working with the first unit — Campbell as one of three receivers along with Kasen Williams and Jaydon Mickens, and Cree at defensive tackle.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The conversion to primarily a no-huddle, up-tempo offense may be the story of the spring for the Washington football team.
But along the course of those 15 practices some smaller subplots have also developed. Two of the more intriguing are the emergence of receiver DiAndre Campbell and defensive lineman Connor Cree.
When the Huskies concluded their practice Saturday with about a 65-play scrimmage, Campbell and Cree were each working with the first unit — Campbell as one of three receivers, along with Kasen Williams and Jaydon Mickens, and Cree at defensive tackle.
Neither would necessarily have been expected to be at those spots when the spring began.
For the moment, Campbell has moved ahead of senior James Johnson, a former starter who is back healthy after missing last season with an elbow injury. Cree played last season at end but has moved inside this spring and is working as a starting tackle (another candidate, Sione Potoa'e, is limited with a broken finger).
Each turned in big plays during the scrimmage to validate the coaches' faith as Campbell caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Keith Price while Cree had a sack to help stop a long drive, among several notable plays.
Each is also playing at spots where UW signed several touted recruits who will arrive in the fall, putting a little urgency on making an impression on the coaches in the spring.
"Springtime is when we have a chance to state our case for the fall, and I feel like I have done good there so far," said Campbell, a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Oakland.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian said the move to the no-huddle offense, which puts a premium on quickly processing information, has helped Campbell.
"He's a great example for our team that when you just keep doing things right, especially when you are in this style of play and playing this up-tempo of an offense, the ability to focus on your job and your task for that next snap, regardless of how tired you may be, that's something that DiAndre has done a really good job of," Sarkisian said. "He lines up, he does his job and when the ball gets thrown to him he makes his play. When we ask for him to block, he blocks really well, and the result of it is every time we turn on the film after practice you notice No. 19 with some big catches, some touchdowns, some key blocks to spring long runs and that's why he has the role that he has on our roster right now, his consistency to do things right."
Cree, a Skyline High grad, played sparingly last year as a redshirt freshman, and didn't record any statistics.
But Sarkisian said he's an example of a player who may simply have needed some time to find his way on the field.
"Sometimes it takes guys a little longer to develop and when they do they can still end up having a really good career for two, three years down the road, and I think we are going to see that out of Connor," Sarkisian said. "When you look at all of this you see the value of redshirting a young man, then he is a redshirt freshman, now all of a sudden he is going into his redshirt sophomore year and he is starting to show and be a player for us."
• Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins remains suspended after being charged this week with misdemeanor DUI after a one-car accident in March. Sarkisian has not yet said if he will be punished during the season. Sarkisian said Saturday that "every situation is different" when it comes to assessing punishments. "We will figure it out and get to a decision that we feel good about that we think is fair to Austin, that is fair to our team and fair to the University of Washington, and we will move on."
• Sarkisian said he wouldn't say who is the backup quarterback behind Price. But in an answer about the backup quarterbacks, he implied Cyler Miles has taken the lead over Jeff Lindquist and Troy Williams. "I think Cyler has shown a great deal of consistency now for a week or two," he said. "With Jeff and Troy, they are both physically gifted guys. ... It's just getting them comfortable. In their play, it doesn't exhibit quite yet a consistency factor from a comfort level within the scheme."
• Sarkisian took the somewhat rare step of making Miles and Lindquist live and able to be hit during the scrimmage. Miles suffered a bloody lip but otherwise each emerged unscathed.
• There were no new injuries but RB Bishop Sankey sat out as a precaution.