Post Spring Top-40: 15-11

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 20-16; now it's 15-11. We're getting close to the Top-10!

15 - Bishop Sankey - Other than James Johnson, no one had arguably as impressive a Spring Football campaign as Bishop Sankey when looking at Washington's skill players. The 5-foot-10, 197-pound sophomore was one of a handful of running backs expected to contribute in 2012 after the move of Chris Polk to the NFL; the only questions yet to be answered were how the backs would be used and how the carries would be distributed. Typically Spring Football will help clear up those answers, and if this April was any indication of the Fall, Sankey stands an excellent chance of being the Huskies' starting running back September 1st versus San Diego State. One of the biggest reasons he emerged from a group that included Jesse Callier, Dezden Petty, Willis Wilson and Antavius Sims is because of his consistency from start to finish. All month Sankey was at practice going 100 percent, showing bursts around the corner as well as explosiveness between the tackles when asked. He has improved his pass protection and is always a threat out of the backfield, so he has that dual threat that Polk carried with him - as well as Callier. Right now as long as both can remain healthy, Callier and Sankey seem to have the clear edge when it comes to projecting carries in the Fall. But if I had to put it on one player to get those big yards to balance out Keith Price's passing attack, I believe Bishop Sankey will end up with those chunks.

14 - Marcus Peters - I'd be hard-pressed to believe there was a more anticipated redshirt debut on defense this spring than Marcus Peters, the talented cornerback from Oakland, Calif. The Huskies were able to get Peters' signature over a host of hungry suitors, including Oregon and Oregon State, and despite the fact that he probably could have played last year made the decision to delay his UW debut by a season so he could get bigger, faster, stronger, and also get used to college life. At 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, the former McClymonds High product jumped out right away during the initial practices of spring and it was easy to see why; all the time pent up in the weight room and on scout teams had made Peters anxious to play the real game once again - and he was on a mission from the start. In previous years it's been fun to watch corners like Desmond Trufant and Roy Lewis size up against the likes of Jermaine Kearse and Sonny Shackelford; seeing Peters give as good as he got against players like Kasen Williams and James Johnson was exciting to see, as well as the fun they were having as they bumped gums and talked all the trash you could ever hope to hear along the way. In short, Peters didn't back down from anyone - including his roommate Williams - and that's something the Huskies will sorely need in 2012.

13 - Greg Ducre - The one player that may have not been awaiting Marcus Peters' arrival this spring was Greg Ducre, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound corner from Los Angeles, the player paired most often with Desmond Trufant after senior Quinton Richardson. Because Ducre played in all 13 games and started six of them, the junior was supposed to step right in where Richardson left off - and Spring Football did nothing to alter that course. Ducre, who has had to sit out practices here and there due to getting his bell rung, appeared to be healthy in April. His experience will be a valuable asset in the spot competition opposite Trufant, as will his continued physical development. Ducre has always been one of the fastest Huskies, but since the end of the 2011 season he's worked on getting bigger and stronger. Add into the equation the move of Justin Wilcox to defensive coordinator, and Ducre is one of those players who clearly benefited from only having to do one thing this spring; be in the receiver's pocket. Somewhere during the Nick Holt tenure, the cornerbacks' responsibilities became muddied; now it seems all they have to do is guard their man and shut them down when a ball is passed in their direction. And when responsibilities become clearer, jobs become easier to perform - and when they are performed well, it just infuses a person with belief. Ducre is one of those players this spring that finished April oozing with confidence.

12 - Nate Fellner - Nate Fellner's move to linebacker this spring seemed to almost be pre-ordained; not only was the senior comfortable with playing closer to the box because of his hard-hitting style, he was also familiar with that place on the field because he played a lot of time down closer to the line of scrimmage even from his safety position. Add at least 10 pounds during the offseason and the fact that Wilcox's move to a 34 front meant a need for more experienced linebackers, and you had a match that appeared to be perfect on paper. That's why it seemed odd that it took the defensive staff a couple of weeks to move Fellner - now up to 220 pounds - up to linebacker, but now it certainly seems like a permanent switch. It not only gives Wilcox more flexibility and dynamism within a younger linebacking corps, but it also will give Fellner a chance to build up his leadership chops by bringing along players like Evan Zeger, Scott Lawyer, and Matthew Lyons. Fellner has always been an active presence in the secondary; now he can put that nose to work closer to the line of scrimmage where he can sniff out draws, screens and the like - as well as use his quickness to stuff read options out on the edge.

11 - Michael Hartvigson - Steve Sarkisian noted on more than a few occasions this spring that Hartvigson, a 6-foot-6, 250-pound sophomore tight end, was the unofficial MVP of UW's off-season - so 'Harvy' came in with some healthy expectations for a player that had only caught eight passes in 2011. But Hartvigson didn't disappoint, proving a worthy foil for Austin Seferian-Jenkins when the defense decided to focus their attention on the freshman All-American. And while ASJ was doing work with the basketball team, Hartvigson was also putting in his time - getting bigger, faster, stronger - and that showed up in April to the point where his play wasn't that dramatically different from what we have come to expect with Seferian-Jenkins. Sarkisian even said himself the week of Spring Game that it was clear Hartvigson had improved to the point where his game had moved to the next level. With Coach Sark looking for ways to find mismatches for his offense, he doesn't have to go past those two - along with 6-foot-6, 260-pound Evan Hudson - as players he can exploit. Because he played in all 13 games last year, Hartvigson knows all about what it takes in the run game as a blocker, so expect a ton more two-tight end sets in 2012. And in the passing game, once Hartvigson starts attracting his own respect - and he should - that's just going to give Sarkisian and QB Keith Price even more options.
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