Bear Bryant, Alabama teams regularly dressed 150 players for soccer practice. Under Don James, the University of Washington has put around 120 boys with more than 50 walk-ons on the list.
That April, the Huskies led 109 players into their spring line-up, occupying seats so coveted that only one person, second in linebacker Josh Calvert, left his seat when the 15 practice sessions were over.
With so much participation, the reality is that a good portion of these guys will never play for UW on Saturdays. A third or more of the raster will likely never officially log a game time.
Nevertheless, they show up and put on a uniform.
Husky walk-ons used to be pushed into a separate locker room and took a lot of abuse from the fellows, some of whom didn’t even bother to learn the names of their teammates.
“Hey walk-on,” a 1987 UW startlinebacker barked at a teammate he would never know as he leaned back comfortably on a sideline. “You are in my sight. Move.”
They are unpaid gamblers for a number of reasons. It’s college football on a grand scale, even if the only reward is tedious repetition of exercises.
Some players join the roster to allow their brothers to live vicariously through them. Others come for the free gear, which includes the highest quality sweatshirts, t-shirts, and shoes.
Others remain the intense competitors they always have been and may be overlooked by recruiters. Some of these determined guys join the program as so-called preferred walk-ons, convinced that one day they will earn a scholarship or at least enjoy a Rudy game day moment.
Nebraska built high-performing teams with a dedicated walk-on program unmatched anywhere in college football, and continually found farm boys to transform into scholarship players, starters, and even NFL players.
The Huskies have turned some of their football volunteers into serious players, including lately linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio, cornerback Myles Bryant, outside linebacker Ryan Bowman, defensive tackle Josiah Bronson, kicker Peyton Henry, and tight end Jack Westover.
If we go through the current UW list in numerical order, this is another one of our assessments of all available Husky talent after spring, drawn from a month of observations to keep everyone busy during the off-season.
In this case, we’ll look at six of the 28 husky walk-ons from spring training stacked together in the lower half of the raster and we’ll tell you who they are.
Their numbers are 27, 29, 31, 32, 36 and 38, all of them duplicates. Here, too, the bottom line is to draw attention to yourself.
This redshirt freshman from Auburn Riverside High School – the same place where Kevin Thomson spawned the UW graduate’s transfer quarterback – did something the other guys who hit the former Big Sky Offensive MVP couldn’t do.
Forward entered a regular season husky game in 2020.
In a 44:27 win over Arizona, he delayed a few games and drew minutes in a game that was far more one-sided than the end result.
While he was a running back, defensive back, wide receiver, and punter at Auburn Riverside, Forward is a 6-foot, 240-pound UW tight-end, which is one of the reasons he doesn’t have a scholarship.
The Huskies make it very clear that they want their tight ends ten to five inches taller than Forward, so simple, or Cade Otton-sized.
Still, Forward is pushing forward, sharing the same # 27 jersey with fellow cornerback James Smith, who had an early breakthrough in his husky career and is looking for more.
This shabby little wide receiver, all 5 feet-10 and 165 pounds of him, came to the Huskies of Seattle Preparatory School after playing lacrosse competitions for nearly a decade and winning a wrestling league championship, the latter for the Bellevue High who did the sport while his high school didn’t.
Oh yeah, Holmes posted 16 tackles as Seattle Prep Safety in a game against Kennedy Catholic High and quarterback Sam Huard, now a UW teammate.
In his online lacrosse recruiting profile, Holmes described himself this way, which probably sums up him as a soccer player: “Personally, I’m a bit undersized for the average lacrosse player, but I rework the competition every day. I play persistently on the field and have a competitive character like no other. I understand the game very well. “
On the far left of the cover picture, Holmes bears the number 29, a number that he shares with Julius Irvin, who is a scholarship holder. As a junior, he came to the Huskies last spring as one of five new walk-on recipients, possibly motivated by the winter departure of five scholarship pass catchers via the transfer portal.
The 6-foot, 180-pound player first joined the UW as a walk-on wide receiver last spring after receiving the first-team and all-conference award at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles.
He’s a redshirt freshman, which means Fuller went to school for a year without playing soccer. Here, too, the possible openings at Husky Wide Receiver most likely motivated him to come out.
Fuller wears the number 31 for Jimmy Lakes Team and shares the number with second defender Kamren Fabiculanan, a scholarship holder.
A native of Los Altos, California, is a 6-foot, 200-pound wide receiver entering his fourth season in the UW football program and still looking for his first game day minutes.
In the Husky Spring Game, Juran caught 3 passes for 29 yards and took 2 of them from No. 1 quarterback Dylan Morris – the only walk-on with receptions – before getting to safety, probably the only guy who walked either way that day .
He’s wearing number 32 after switching from 39 in the spring, a husky jersey he shares with junior punter Tristan Brown.
Juran is inducted into the Foster School of Business and consistently achieves the best GPA of 3.85 for the UW football team.
In 2019, he shared the above photo after the game at Husky Stadium with Oregon running back to Cyrus Habibi-Likio, a former teammate at St. Francis High School in the Bay Area.
Much like some of the others, Wheeler first advocated the recently completed spring training session with the Huskies, likely attracted by all the fluctuations in the off-season.
Wheeler, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound redshirt freshman, was a two-way player for Skyview High School in Vancouver, Washington, and his grade means he attended school for a year before pulling on the pads .
He wears the # 36 jersey that he shares with his walk-on colleague Kasen Kinchen, a newcomer to the cornerback in a red shirt.
This sophomore 5-foot-8, 170-pound wide-receiver is coming from Cheney High to UW, the same school that established All-America and NFL No. 3 three decades earlier. 1 Draft Pick Defensive Tackle Steve Emtman had sent to the Huskies.
The versatile VerStrate played soccer, basketball, soccer and athletics in Cheney, tried the sprints for the first time as a senior and won the 100- and 200-meter runs at the state meeting.
VerStrate was part of the Husky squad in 2019 and 2020 without receiving any play time. On the far right of the cover picture, he wears the number 38, which he shares with walk-on kicker Jarrett North.
Outlook for 2021: All are projected as deep reserves
YOUR service time: Striker has 1 game appearance
Individual honors: None
Pro prospects: None
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