The University of Washington’s two new tight ends spent most of last season on the bench. When they did play, they played quarterback and defensive line, respectively.
So as the Huskies churn through their spring practice schedule, Jeff Lindquist and Will Dissly are doing so at a new position, trying to learn the nuances of catching and blocking as tight ends in coach Chris Petersen’s offense.
One difference, Lindquist said, is that he gets a little more respect now that he’s wearing a purple jersey like the rest of the offensive players. Quarterbacks wear gold jerseys that make them off-limits to any contact during scrimmage periods.
“It’s fun to be in purple,” Lindquist said. “I don’t get called out by my teammates for being a little wimp.”
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He switched positions simply “to help this team win and contribute” after spending last season as the third-string quarterback. Lindquist, a 6-foot-3, 244-pound fifth-year senior from Mercer Island, started UW’s season opener at Hawaii in 2014, then eventually fell to third string that year, too, behind Cyler Miles and Troy Williams.
Last season, Lindquist played behind Jake Browning and K.J. Carta-Samuels, seeing the field as the holder for place kicks, the protector on punt-team coverage and for a few snaps every now and then as a wildcat-style running quarterback.
He said he hopes to line up behind center at some point, but that is not his call. For now, he’s trying to crack a tight end rotation that is highlighted by senior Darrell Daniels and includes fourth-year junior David Ajamu, sophomore Drew Sample, redshirt freshman Michael Neal and Dissly (who, at 6-4 and 273 pounds, is the largest player in the group).
“As far as plays go, I obviously already knew most of them,” Lindquist said. “There are a few calls here and there, but that hasn’t been the toughest part. It’s just the different role. I’ve played quarterback for the last eight years of my life so it’s a new position.”
It’s a little different for Dissly, who played both tight end and defensive line at Bozeman High School in Montana. He played sparingly as a defensive lineman his first two seasons at UW, then took on some tight-end duties prior to the Huskies’ bowl game last season.
Now a junior, Dissly, like Lindquist, said he’s just trying to do what he can to get on the field.
“I came in with high expectations for myself, high goals of starting and even making honorable mention Pac-12, but the way it unfolded, our defense was successful and that’s all you can ask for,” Dissly said of last season, in which he appeared in 13 games but had just eight tackles.
“Just trying to be ambitious and take each day and get better, I felt like I was plateauing a little bit and falling behind those guys. Working on special teams as much as I could ... and they were like, ‘Do you want to be on offense too?’, and I was like, ‘The more the merrier. Let’s do it.’ ”
His experience as a defensive lineman causes him to “over strike” on occasion, Dissly said.
“(On) offense, you know where you’re going,” he said. “On defense, you’re reacting, so it almost helps me play a little quicker on the offensive side of the ball.”
Lindquist said it wasn’t easy to bid farewell to the quarterback position, but he knew he’d have a better chance to earn playing time at tight end.
“(Quarterback is) kind of where I learned to love football,” he said. “There’s things that I’ll miss, obviously, But I’m excited for this opportunity.”
Christian Caple: 253-597-8437