Post-Spring Top-40: 35-31

SEATTLE - There were a ton of great stories and great performances coming out of Spring Football for the Washington Huskies, and now it's time to take roll call. Who had the best spring? Who made the biggest jumps? counts down the top-40 from Spring Football, five players at a time. Yesterday was 40-36; now it's 35-31.

35 - Willis Wilson - The sophomore from Lakes has been biding his time, doing everything Joel Thomas has asked of him - and this spring was just more of the same. At some point, if injuries come calling, Wilson is going to get his chance. The 5-foot-9, 184-pound Wilson plays bigger than his frame suggests, with ability to gain yardage in-between the tackles and out on the edge. With 3-4 scholarship players ahead of him at every turn, the chances Willis gets to play this fall on offense will always be very small, but much like his walk-on compatriot Cole Sager, I think April gave the UW coaches confidence to use Wilson in other ways - like special teams, for instance. In 2010, he did win the Special Teams Scout Player of the Year, so don't discount it.

34 - Scott Lawyer/Matthew Lyons - These two linebackers came to Washington last year as undersized frosh linebackers and a perfect combo - much in the same way John Timu and Princeton Fuimaono were paired off when they came to Montlake. While Lyons continues to play at around 205 pounds, Lawyer stepped up his conditioning game in the off-season, jumping up to roughly 220 pounds. A groin injury tripped up what would have been a near-perfect spring campaign for Lawyer, while Lyons took part in all 15 practices. Lawyer and Lyons represent the future of Washington's linebacking corps; big enough to handle the pounding of Pac-12 play while also having the speed and quickness to make plays out on the edges. They will play in 2012, but expect these two to really make their mark in 2013 as savvy 'backers under the tutelage of Peter Sirmon.

33 - Travis Feeney/James Sample - The ranking on this combo will appear way too low for many, and with good reason; like Lawyer and Lyons, Feeney and Sample are UW's next quality matched pair of safeties. They came into the system together, and while Sample did play some in 2011 an injury allowed the redshirt frosh from Sacramento to earn back his redshirt year - so they are on the same track eligibility-wise. Add incoming frosh Shaquille Thompson to the mix - a teammate of Sample's at Grant High School in SacTown - and the Huskies' hopes at safety appear rock-solid. The ranking suggests more about what they weren't able to do with red shirts on all of spring, as they were both recovering from shoulder surgeries. And even though both played in all 15 practices and got their work in as much as they could given their physical restrictions, it's hard to rank them higher considering they weren't able to go 100 percent - but make no mistake; if holding them back in spring turns out to be the right decision and they are able to play the entire 2012 season injury-free, Feeney and Sample will most definitely have an impact on Washington's defensive fortunes. They are too good to leave off the field.

32 - Talia Crichton - After the first couple practices of spring, I thought the ranking on the senior from Lakewood, Calif. was going to go through the roof. All the way through the first full padded workout of April, the 6-foot-3, 252-pound Crichton was everywhere; in fact I believe Steve Sarkisian made a note of Crichton's impact that week every time he spoke to the media. It appeared that he was finally back to 100 percent health for the first time in ages and now we were seeing the Talia Crichton everyone knew existed. But then the rigors of camp crept up on Crichton; his knee continued to bother him bit by bit to the point where he had to sit out a few practices, and he also unluckily succumbed to a flu bug that was also going around that same time. Bottom line, Crichton has a chance to be an impact performer at defensive end if the UW staff can figure out the perfect formula for playing time; just enough to make sure he can do his damage without crossing that line and re-injuing a knee that started to act up again. Since this is Crichton's last time through, motivation is not going to be an issue, but he's going to have to find that balance that allows him to finish his final year at UW without any regrets.

31 - Derrick Brown - Brown, a redshirt frosh quarterback from Murrieta, Calif., made big strides in Spring camp, developing as the Huskies' No. 2 option behind Keith Price, building chemistry with receivers like Josh Perkins, and staying healthy. Without any other scholarshipped quarterbacks available in April, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Brown got plenty of opportunities to show how far he's come from the fall, and while he's undeniably a solid option for the Huskies going forward it's hard not to think toward the future after seeing what Brown did in as-close-to-live action as the quarterbacks had in spring. During the Spring Game at CenturyLink Field, Brown was a respectable 12-24 for 129 yards, but in the public scrimmage a week earlier at Memorial Stadium, he was a poor 5-11 for 38 yards compared to Price, who was 10-18 for 137 yards and one touchdown. In fairness to Brown, Price wasn't all that much better last spring and certainly didn't give out early warning signs of the record-setting 2011 season. For the quarterbacks especially, Spring Football is more about getting the work in and understanding where you need to improve as you head into summer 7-7's and then into fall camp.

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