Post-Spring Top-40: 25-21

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 30-26; now it's 25-21.

25 - Dezden Petty - The 5-foot-11, 208-pound Petty, a redshirt freshman from Carson, Calif., came to Washington as a prospect that was going to compete at fullback, but has since shown enough at running back to be a serious threat for playing time in 2012. The biggest thing Petty did during Spring Football was show success running between the tackles and in short-yardage situations - and that was something the Huskies needed to address in April. Getting the tough yards was one of many things Chris Polk did very well, yet the other returning running backs, Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey, were known as ball carriers that did their damage off-tackle. Petty has a nose for picking up yardage inside, and that might be his calling-card as the Huskies prepare themselves for the fall. It seems as if Steve Sarkisian is already planning on using a composite of Callier, Sankey, Petty and newcomer Antavius Sims to account for Polk's production and versatility, and it sure looks like Petty is the frontrunner when the Huskies need that yard-and-a-cloud-of-dust to move the chains.

24 - Corey Waller - Waller came to Washington as an intriguing prospect for many reasons, chief among them that he prepped at powerhouse Long Beach Poly, a program Washington has never had success recruiting from. It's not as if Long Beach in general hasn't been good to the Huskies; LB Jordan has three current UW players on it - John Timu, Princeton Fuimaono and Siosifa Tufunga - but there have only been two Jackrabbit commits to Washington in the last 15 years - Maurice Murray and Kim Taylor - and Murray never made it to UW, eventually making it to New Mexico State after a stint in junior college. There were other reasons to like Waller; he fit perfectly in with the new 'RUSH' position tagged by Nick Holt when trying to get fellow sack specialist Josh Shirley on the field. And although his spring wasn't maybe as consistent as Shirley's or Connor Cree from the standpoint of showing out every day, there's no question the 6-foot, 223-pound Waller showed up the last two weeks of spring with his hair on fire. He officially recorded two 'touch' sacks during Spring Game, and was definitely a nuisance to the offensive line when he was in there. There's no question Washington recruited Waller with Shirley in mind, and with a very solid spring behind him it appears Waller is ready to make the jump required to be Shirley's doppelgänger in 2012.

23 - Jarett Finau - When the Juanita High grad showed up on campus at 235 pounds, Finau's position seemed pretty clear; he'd be a bigger defensive end - like Andrew Hudson and Talia Crichton - in Nick Holt's 4-3 attack. A redshirt year getting bigger and stronger, as well as a defensive coaching overhaul, has Finau still playing some end, but at a legitimate 265 pounds in Justin Wilcox's 34 scheme - he's doing his damage in a much different way. With Semisi Tokolahi out and Sione Potoae not able to shore up the No. 1 DE spot next to Danny Shelton, a move to the ones was for the taking - and Finau took it. By the end of April, the combination of Shelton and Finau was entrenched. Because of his newfound size, Finau can handle the rigors of sliding over a gap inside. Since he hasn't lost the same pass rushing ability that saw him turn into a camp terror before his senior season at Juanita, Finau left tackles and guards equally in his wake during Spring Football. Granted, there's a lot of positional nous Finau needs to grasp in order to truly make that new hybrid spot his own and he was playing against an offensive line perpetually on the mend, but that doesn't take away from the work he put in and his upward mobility in April. He saw what he needed to do and he did it - simple as that. His mental preparation going forward will determine whether he's truly ready to take that next step in games, or if he's still a year away from being the kind of impact player he showed in flashes.

22 - Connor Cree - One of the biggest revelations coming out of Washington's Spring Football, the Plateau native always felt like a bit of a project the moment he committed to Washington in the spring of 2010. Perhaps that had more to do with the fact that one of his Spartan teammates just happened to be a UW commit too, but also the Parade Magazine National Player of the Year - Kasen Williams - so expectations for Cree were probably downsized as a matter of balancing out things. Cree was a talented 6-foot-4.5, 220-pound athlete would could conceivably play on either side of the ball in college - but the Huskies liked what they saw on defense. One redshirt year later, Cree is now a 235-pound LEO that has shown to be a tough contain - either on the edge of the line of scrimmage or out in the flats harassing ball carriers. And not just a tough contain, but one that came up consistently in spring when Sarkisian was giving out his post-practice kudos. Whether it was during 1-1's or team play, Cree found a knack for being in the right place at the right time - which ended up being in the backfield most often. Again, considering the timeline bomb for Cree was set to detonate next year - anything the Huskies get out of him this year has to be considered bonus bang for their buck. And frankly, if Cree ramps up his play this fall in the same manner he did for Spring Football, he's going to get reps to see if he's truly taken that next step as a defensive difference-maker.

21 - Dexter Charles - This is the way you build depth along an offensive line. It seems almost cliche at this point, but redshirting as a freshman is the go-to move for any program that considers itself in good shape. Unfortunately Washington hasn't been in that kind of shape for quite a while. That's why in 2010, when the Huskies signed a whopping seven offensive linemen, two of them had to play right away. That still meant five redshirted, as well as the two more they signed for the 2011 class - the class that Charles was in. But with one of those 2010 starters retired and another that started as a redshirt freshman possibly sidelined for a while repairing a knee, it sure looks like Washington will have to play at least one true freshman out of a class of six incoming linemen. Charles should be in position to hopefully alleviate that situation. At 6-foot-4 and 287 pounds, Charles has the rare knack of being able to pick up both the tackle and guard spots along UW's offensive line, to the point where Washington's Offensive Line Coach Dan Cozzetto has turned the Stanwood native into a left sided player only for the time being. That means he's in the mix right away for starting positions at both tackle and guard - two spots now having to be manned potentially by players that weren't starters in 2011. But anyone that remembers Charles being a fixture during UW's 2010 Spring Football also remembers the animal diligence Charles had in learning anything he could to give himself a jump start for that following fall. You're seeing that pay off right now, as he had an extremely strong spring and literally pencilled himself into Cozzetto's top-7 rotation. His versatility, nastiness and production will keep him in that rotation, no matter what position he eventually plays at or if he even becomes a starter in 2012.

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