Spring primer: Five players to watch

SEATTLE -- When asked to list a few players he is looking forward to watching this spring, Steve Sarkisian added one word for almost every person he talked about.

When it comes to potential breakout performances, Washington’s coach is “excited” about the potential for several players in his program to put together breakout seasons.

With the Huskies opening spring practice Tuesday night, here is a look at players to pay attention to:

1. Quarterback Keith Price: It is hard for Sarkisian to believe his quarterback is already a senior.

The coach and quarterback have been linked throughout Sarkisian’s tenure at Washington.

“We’ve been through a lot together and we’ve got one chapter left that we want to make this thing a great ending,” Sarkisian said.

After a breakout season as a sophomore, Price struggled as a junior. Sarkisian wants his quarterback to regain the “smile,” “flair” and “competitive nature” that seems to come naturally when Price is playing well.

Can he come through with a second breakout season? Sarkisian thinks so.

2. Cornerback Marcus Peters: As a redshirt freshman, Peters produced flashes. He showed, at times, he could become an all-conference corner.

Now it is time for Peters to build on those moments.

“I would like to see Marcus Peters play with the consistency that he’s capable of playing with,” Sarkisian said. “He’s flashed it several times for us and now to be able to put that thing together and do if for an 80-play sequence on game day, I think, would be amazing.”

3. Receiver James Johnson: After suffering an injury in fall camp, Johnson was forced to redshirt during what was expected to be his senior season.

The opportunity to return in 2013 provides Washington with a veteran receiver who should help take pressure off junior standout Kasen Williams.

With talented young receivers in the program and more on the way this fall, Johnson will be expected to take on a leadership role, starting this spring.

“I’m excited to have James Johnson back on the field with us, a veteran leader at wide receiver who has played a lot of good football for us,” Sarkisian said.

4. Safety Sean Parker: Parker is a proven commodity in Washington’s secondary after playing in 13 games each of the last two seasons.

Now a senior, Sarkisian expects Parker to take on a leadership role in the secondary. With cornerback Desmond Trufant preparing for the NFL draft, it is up to Parker to be a veteran presence for the younger players around him.

5. Running backs Ryan McDaniel and Dwayne Washington: Because Sarkisian grouped the two redshirt freshmen together, it seemed fitting to include both backs in this final spot.

Bishop Sankey produced a breakout season in 2012, but he could use some help. That could come in the form of these big backs. Sarkisian said McDaniel and Washington provide a different dimension and the coach is “excited to see them perform.”