Notebook: After enduring stormy seas in his first two seasons, is UW edge Sav’ell Smalls able to make the leap?


Sav’ell Smalls is about to go fishing this fall.

Of course, the 6-foot-3, 259-pound pass-rusher additionally participated within the “Dawg Derby” title, picture and likeness fishing match on July 16 — looking salmon alongside Husky followers in a fleet of boats on the Puget Sound.

The expertise had its ups and downs.

And ups. And downs.

“I got a little seasick a couple times,” the sophomore from Seattle admitted this week. “As soon as that boat started rocking again, I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I had to close my eyes for a little bit.”

Likewise, the waters haven’t been calm in Smalls’ first two collegiate seasons. The former five-star recruit from Kennedy Catholic High School has endured a pair of teaching modifications, a shortened season in 2020 and a 4-8 file final fall … whereas contributing simply 18 tackles with zero sacks or tackles for loss in 16 profession video games.

Still, Smalls’ potential was obvious in UW’s first six practices of preseason camp, because the hometown Husky contributed an elevated variety of impression performs.

The subsequent step is consistency.

“Sav’ell has just really bought in,” stated junior edge Zion Tupuola-Fetui. “Before he maybe had some hype around him that clouded his vision. Now he’s really bought into the team, bought into the playbook. It’s great to have him in the room.”

Added edge coach Eric Schmidt: “He’ll show up and you’ll be like, ‘Wow, look at that play there.’ And then there might be three or four plays where it’s like, ‘Hey, where was Sav’ell?’ The good part is he’s not destructive. He’s not showing up from the negative point of view. He’s just (quietly) doing his job.”

If Smalls continues to compile “wow” performs, he’ll work his method into Washington’s edge rotation — alongside established abilities Bralen Trice, Jeremiah Martin and Zion Tupuola-Fetui. Junior Sekai Afoa-Asoau and redshirt freshman Maurice Heims are competing for reps as properly.

Regardless of who mans the sting, the expectations have been established.

“It’s really a big play position,” Schmidt stated. “You’re not going to necessarily lead our team in tackles. We’re not asking you to do that. But you should be up in the conference and in our team in sacks, tackles for loss, batted balls, forced fumbles, stuff like that. That’s where those guys really have to show up and do a good job of being productive.”

On July 16, manufacturing got here second on stormy seas.

But Smalls finally caught a fish — and he hopes to catch extra this fall.

“The fish fought,” Smalls famous of the 10-pound salmon he finally bested. “It took like three minutes. It was tiring, but it was a good experience.”

The subsequent wave of Washington corners

Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon are gone.

Enter their successor … from UC Davis?

Perhaps surprisingly to these outdoors this system, Jordan Perryman — a 6-0, 202-pound graduate switch from FCS UC Davis — has instantly established himself as one in all UW’s most dominant defenders. Co-defensive coordinator Chuck Morrell stated this week that Perryman “is playing as good as anyone on our squad right now, and it’s impressive watching him play day in and day out.”

Morrell added in a earlier interview that “pound for pound, (Perryman) is one of the strongest guys on the team, one of the fastest guys on the team, plays with confidence every day. The jump to a new level of football honestly has not fazed him one bit.”

Perryman will be penciled in as a starter … in addition to a possible All-Pac-12 performer.

But who’s anticipated to begin on the other aspect?

The rapid reply this offseason has been sophomore Mishael Powell, a former stroll on who contributed 11 tackles with three go breakups and a pressured fumble in 12 video games final fall. But Powell is being pushed by redshirt freshman Davon Banks, who snared a team-high 4 interceptions in UW’s first six practices.

“He was a surprise guy to us in the spring. Young guy, not a real high level of expectation,” Morrell stated of Banks. “He got some opportunities through injuries during the spring and made some phenomenal plays. So now it’s like, ‘Hey, that happened one time. Now we’re in fall. Can you back that up?’

“So we’ve been individually challenging him to step up, because it doesn’t matter … senior, freshman, it’s time to play. The opposing quarterbacks aren’t going to care. They’re going to go at him big-time. He’s done some nice things early in camp. But like I said, he’s got to continue to develop every day.”

Besides Powell and Banks, redshirt freshman Elijah Jackson is one other intriguing expertise working primarily with the second staff. Morrell famous that the 6-1, 184-pound Jackson “has an unbelievable competitive spirit. He loves football, and he’s got some great tools. You put those two things together and once he gets things figured out he’ll definitely be in the equation.”

Regardless of who begins in opposition to Kent State on Sept. 3, UW coach Kalen DeBoer values the continued cornerback competitors.

“The opportunity is there,” DeBoer stated. “Mish (Powell) and Jordan (Perryman) certainly are the guys that are out there, and they’re durable and they’re strong, confident guys. So they’re running with the ones predominantly. But we’ve got to have that next group of guys that’s pushing them and ready to go.”

Quarterback competitors timeline

With the season opener looming on Sept. 3, UW’s quarterback competitors has an rigid deadline.

And, in keeping with offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, they’d want to decide even sooner than that.

“You have to have it done game week, right? But in theory, it would be done hopefully the week before that,” Grubb stated. “We don’t put any hard and fast lines on it. You’ve got to have a little bit of feel and experience and some savvy in understanding how that process goes, especially when you have three guys.

“It’s a little bit of a different story when it’s just two. But when you have three true guys competing for that job I just think you have to be smart and understand that the team and the offense has to have that guy defined for game week, for sure.”

When requested what is going to finally separate the starter — amongst junior Michael Penix Jr., sophomore Dylan Morris and redshirt freshman Sam Huard — Grubb stated: “Their communication skills and just really being the alpha out there. They’ve got to block out worrying about who the starter is and when they’re on the field and taking the snap, they’re the starter. Be the alpha and take over and be the best communicator and leader that we have.

“That’s where all three of those guys still need to grow, making sure they’re coming out and everybody in the stadium knows who’s running the show.”

Extra level

  • Inside the broad receiver room — which includes junior Giles Jackson, sophomores Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan and redshirt freshman Ja’Lynn Polk, amongst others — the expectations are clear. “I was just telling Rome earlier that I feel like we could be the best receiver corps in the country,” Jackson stated. “I feel like if we all just keep working together and keeping better we can be a dangerous group.”


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