Depth Chart Predictions - TE/LB/Special Teams

SEATTLE - With the real big guys and the fast guys covered, it's now time to check out the bigger athletes, those tweeners that play tight end on offense and linebacker on defense. We will also break down the depth on Washington's special teams, including who the fans should see covering punts and kicks when the Huskies take on San Diego State this Saturday at CenturyLink Field.

Tight End:
88 Austin Seferian-Jenkins 6-6, 266, So., Fox Island (WA) Gig Harbor
84 Michael Hartvigson 6-6, 255, So., Bothell (WA) Bothell
80 Evan Hudson 6-5, 262, So., Bothell (WA) Bothell
89 Alec Kimble 6-4, 230, So., Sammamish (WA) Eastside Catholic

You better enjoy Austin Seferian-Jenkins play in the purple and gold while you can, because you should only expect him to be around a couple more years. If he lives up to the work he's put in this spring, summer and fall, the sophomore tight end - the only true sophomore to be named to the Mackey Watch List for the best tight end in the country - he will shatter the 41 catches and six touchdowns he had in 2011. And just when defenses have focused all their energy on stopping ASJ, Michael Hartvigson and Evan Hudson are very capable of finding open seams, settling into zones and catching passes. They only caught nine passes in 2011 between the two of them, but expect that number to at least double - if not triple. Keith Price is certainly going to rely on Seferian-Jenkins to be the ultimate release valve, but with defenses keyed on ASJ Price will have to find other options. With both Hartvigson and Hudson being in the 6-5-to-6-6 range and 255-plus pounds, they are instant mismatches for anyone they are going up against when they release from the line of scrimmage. Kimble was just moved over from defensive end where he was stuck in the depth, so it's hard to know exactly how he's going to fit in with the other three giants at this position.
Outside Linebacker:
14 Taz Stevenson 6-1, 215, Jr., Mililani (HI) Mililani OR
41 Travis Feeney 6-4, 209, RFr., Richmond (CA) Pinole Valley
47 Scott Lawyer 6-2, 223, RFr., San Jose (CA) Oak Grove
42 Cory Littleton 6-3, 212, Fr., Spring Valley (CA) Mount Miguel
29 Nate Fellner 6-1, 218, Sr., Fresno (CA) Clovis West (INJ.)

Fellner was the clear leader at this position until suffering a broken foot over two weeks ago, so it's going to be up to two more safety transplants - Stevenson and Feeney - to pick up the slack, with Scott Lawyer waiting in the wings. Stevenson moved to linebacker in the spring and was immediately installed with the ones, where he showed up and played well. But he wasn't really able to maintain that momentum this fall as he battled migraines for quite a while. Before Feeney was moved down to outside linebacker nearly two weeks ago, it was Scott Lawyer who was stepping up with the number ones - but he never really grabbed hold of the position with both hands. True frosh Cory Littleton is the kind of raw athlete the coaches will love to develop in time, so they will do everything possible to redshirt him this season. Overall with Fellner out likely until conference play this position is extremely young and inexperienced. Feeney played some linebacker in high school, which will accelerate his development there - but it's still a strong ask for him to step in right away and compete against teams like LSU and the top Pac-12 teams. In time this group will be fine, especially when Fellner returns - but how quickly will they gel with the rest of the linebackers? It's definitely a bit of a M.A.S.H. unit at this point.

Inside Linebacker:
10 John Timu 6-1, 231, So., Long Beach (CA) Jordan
50 Thomas Tutogi 6-0, 242, Jr., Chula Vista (CA) Southwestern JC
36 Blake Rodgers 6-1, 220, Fr., Coto de Caza (CA) Tesoro

John Timu was named a defensive co-captain Friday with Sean Parker and Desmond Trufant, a tribute to just how much respect he has garnered from his teammates in just one season with the team. Remember, he came in as a delayed enrollee, giving him an extra spring of practices before taking over a starting role in 2011, eventually starting eight games at one of the outside linebacker spots. Now with another spring and fall camp until his belt, Timu is fully ensconced as the heart of the UW linebacking corps. He's tough, reliable and durable, missing only one game last year. Tutogi is an able replacement, having played in all 13 games last year as a transfer, which should allow for the coaches to redshirt Blake Rodgers, who needs the year to get bigger, faster and stronger.

Outside Linebacker:
37 Princeton Fuimaono 6-1, 210, Jr., Long Beach (CA) Jordan
30 Evan Zeger 6-2, 223, RFr., Henderson (NV) Bishop Gorman
7 Shaquille Thompson 6-2, 215, Fr., Sacramento (CA) Grant
40 Stetson Shearer 6-2, 219, Jr., Burlington (WA) Central Washington
58 Jamaal Kearse 6-1, 226, So., Lakewood (WA) Lakes (INJ.)

A touchy hamstring sidelined Fuimaono for some of fall camp, but that was strictly precaution. The junior from Long Beach started every game at outside linebacker last year save the California game, and he's proven to be a durable partner with Timu (both went to the same high school, so they are very familiar with each other's game). When Fuimaono was out, Zeger took nearly all the rest of the reps at the position and should be ready to see his first live action as a Husky in 2011. The bigger issue is the broken tibia of Kearse, which should put him out conservatively until the middle of the season, which means others will have to step up - especially on special teams. The 'X' factor there and also at the linebacker spot (and it really could be all the linebacker positions) is Thompson, the No. 1 rated safety nationally by for the 2012 class. Steve Sarkisian has made no secret his desire to get the best players on the field, and that group has to include Thompson despite his youth and relative inexperience. Shaq could play either of the safety spots, a nickel or dime defensive back, as well as closer to the box as a linebacker - and also as a return specialist. I expect after the year we will be able to go back and see how many positions Thompson was asked to play and it could easily be half a dozen. They want to try to get him on the field as much as possible, and this is how it's going to happen. The UW defensive coaches will get him dialed in a few keys that he can rely on, which should lighten his plate mentally and allow him to play fast and aggressive.
Special Teams:
46 Korey Durkee 6-4, 225, Fr., Gig Harbor (WA) Gig Harbor
46 Travis Coons 6-2, 205, Jr., Alta Loma (CA) Mt. San Antonio College

46 Travis Coons 6-2, 205, Jr., Alta Loma (CA) Mt. San Antonio College
46 Korey Durkee 6-4, 225, Fr., Gig Harbor (WA) Gig Harbor
96 Santiago Lopez 6-0, 195, Fr., Lynden (WA) Lynden

46 Travis Coons 6-2, 205, Jr., Alta Loma (CA) Mt. San Antonio College OR
46 Korey Durkee 6-4, 225, Fr., Gig Harbor (WA) Gig Harbor
96 Santiago Lopez 6-0, 195, Fr., Lynden (WA) Lynden

7 Cody Bruns 5-11, 183, Sr., Prosser (WA) Prosser
27 William Chandler 6-0, 186, Jr., Sammamish (WA) Skyline

Long Snapper:
51 David Butler 5-11, 205, Jr., Liberty Lake (WA) Central Valley
57 Drew Schultz 6-1, 254, So., Olympia (WA) Olympia

Short Snapper:
77 Ryan Masel 6-0, 216, Fr., Phoenix (AZ) Desert Vista
57 Drew Schultz 6-1, 254, So., Olympia (WA) Olympia

Punt Returns:
2 Kasen Williams 6-2, 216, So., Sammamish (WA) Skyline
4 Jaydon Mickens 5-10, 170, Fr., Los Angeles (CA) Dorsey
7 Cody Bruns 5-11, 183, Sr., Prosser (WA) Prosser OR
16 Marvin Hall 5-10, 181, Fr., Los Angeles (CA) Dorsey
15 Antavius Sims 6-0, 199, Jr., Americus (GA) Ventura College

Kick Returns:
8 Kevin Smith 5-11, 213, Jr., Compton (CA) Centennial OR
24 Jesse Callier 5-10, 211 Jr., Downey (CA) Warren
7 Shaquille Thompson 6-2, 215, Fr., Sacramento (CA) Grant
25 Bishop Sankey 5-10, 200, So., Spokane (WA) Gonzaga Prep
6 Desmond Trufant 6-0, 186, Sr., Tacoma (WA) Wilson

To start with, using 46 for both the punter and the kicker is a bit unusual but smart if you think about it - it's not as if they are going to be on the field at the same time, and if you want to really confuse some teams in terms of having specific guys out there for fakes and the like - have your two main specialist wear the same number. Frankly I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often, just for the disguising factor alone. With the departure of all of UW's kickers and punters last year to graduation, this phase of special teams was supposed to be a real question mark going into fall camp - but Coons has been a revalation, showing as big a leg as John Anderson did well over a decade ago and his accuracy has been pretty much spot on after a shaky first day. Durkee will be the number one punter, and either one of them could be asked to perform kickoff duty. Lopez is the emergency kicker.

The bigger question mark will be the snappers. Brendan Lopez pretty much went unseen for his two years at UW, and that's a good thing. That meant that his snaps were as ordered. David Butler appears to be doing the long snapping while freshman Ryan Masel was recruited this year to do the short snaps. So far it doesn't appear as if snapping has been too much of an issue, but those are the things that show up as real eyesores the first couple weeks of the season. We will certainly know then if Butler and Masel can continue a strong legacy the last few years that Lopez and Danny Morovick started during the Steve Sarkisian era at UW. The good news for them is that Cody Bruns and William Chandler are both holders with vast experience under their belts, so it'll be their job to make the new snappers play like veterans from the get-go.

Washington was decent in kickoff returns (third in the Pac-12 last year) and average in the punt return department, so there's still room to improve. I don't expect a lot of change with the kick return units because the two main returners - Kevin Smith and Jesse Callier - are back, plus Bishop Sankey. The new player to watch here would be Thompson, who had a return for touchdown during a fall scrimmage. In the punt return game, there should be improvement. Kasen Williams did a nice job in that capacity as a true frosh, but it should be at least one more true frosh this fall that will push him for time - Jaydon Mickens. Mickens' game is ideally suited for punt returning, where he can make a couple of juke steps and then fly upfield for big gains. He can also get popped pretty hard if he doesn't have his head on a swivel, so that's always a concern. Cody Bruns will again be the safety returner when the hands team is on the field and all they need to do is fair catch in order to secure a game. Marvin Hall and Antavius Sims have speed to burn and could be very intriguing options here if Sarkisian and his staff look in other directions to get production at this position. It's always good to have options.
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