At the time the recruiting class was signed there was much discussion about the following:
- The number of recruits was too high and would put the Huskies over the NCAA limit of 85 total scholarship players
- The class had too many skill position prospects and not enough linemen
In the article below I have divided out each position by the number of returning players and new recruits and compared the total number at each position to a preferred distribution for 85 scholarships. The total of returning players plus new recruits equals 87 at the time of this article. The number would go to 88 if Aaron Butler rejoins the team. Therefore the total will have to be trimmed, either through attrition, greyshirting or having recruits not qualify academically for the Fall (or a combination thereof).
The following is a summary of one preferred distribution scenario by position versus the current projected distribution for the upcoming season:
PO Preferred Projected QB 5 4 RB 9 9 WR 8 10 TE 4 6 OL 15 14 OFF 41 43 DT 8 9 DE 8 7 LB 11 10 DB 15 16 DEF 42 42 PK 1 1 P 1 1 Total 85 87Below is a listing of all returning and incoming scholarship players listed by position. The numbers in parenthesis represent the years of eligibility remaining for the returning player.
Players Returning – Cody Pickett (1) Casey Paus (3) Isaiah Stanback (4)
New Recruits – Carl Bonnell
There would have been room at the position to add Dennis Dixon as another recruit in the 2003 recruiting class but his presence wasn't absolutely necessary after Carl Bonnell decided to switch his allegiance from WSU to the UW. Casey Paus and Isaiah Stanback have benefited from redshirt years and should theoretically be ready to compete for the back-up job and give the Huskies three quarterbacks that are ready to play if needed. This would allow Carl Bonnell to redshirt and put a year between himself and Isaiah Stanback in terms of eligibility.
The Huskies have room at the position to sign two quarterback recruits in 2004 and it is critical that they sign at least one.
Running Back Players Returning – Rich Alexis (1) Adam Seery (1) Zach Tuiasosopo (2) Chris Singleton (2) Ty Eriks (3) Kenny James (4) Shelton Sampson (4)
New Recruits – Louis Rankin, Anthony Russo
The typical distribution for nine running backs would be six tailbacks and three fullbacks. The Huskies return four tailbacks and three fullbacks so their recruiting of two new tailbacks is right on. However, I think it quite possible that Durrell Moss was also end up at tailback and that would put the number one over the suggested distribution. I also think the Huskies were willing to take an extra tailback or two in an attempt to enhance the talent at the position, which seemed in short supply last season. Frankly, the Dawgs could have done the same at fullback but apparently placed a lower priority on upgrading that position's talent with this class. It will be critical to sign a top fullback in the next recruiting class along with a tailback prospect.
Players Returning – Reggie Williams (2) Charles Frederick (2) Justin Robbins (2) Jordan Slye (4)
New Recruits – Craig Chambers, Quintin Daniels, Bobby Whithorne, Corey Williams, Sonny Shackelford, Charles Smith
Based on this summary it is easy to see why the Huskies recruited so many receivers, though they could have done with one or two less. A team is certainly at risk when it only returns three receivers and with the Huskies it may only be two if Justin Robbins is unable to stay injury free. Also, it is widely anticipated that Reggie Williams will only be with the team one more year so the Huskies were in dire need of building depth immediately. This is certainly a spot were a new recruit could be greyshirted if needed but I think the Huskies essentially signed six prospects in hopes of finding four or five solid players that will contribute over the years.
Players Returning – Joe Toledo (3) Andy Heater (3) Ben Bandel (4) Jason Benn (4)
New Recruits – John Lyon (2), Casey Tyler
The returning tight ends are young and may not be ready for prime time. Therefore, the Huskies needed to find a player who could challenge for playing time immediately. Hopefully, they found that player in junior college transfer John Lyon. They could have stopped there but Casey Tyler was one of the best in-state prospects and probably has a better future then some of the returning players so the Huskies had to make a strong attempt to sign him. You could easily argue that the ideal distribution for tight ends is five (take away a tailback or quarterback?), especially with the proliferation of two tight end sets. Therefore, the difference of two in the above distribution (rather than one) is debatable. Six tight ends is probably more than needed so I would expect possible position changes or attrition at this position. Andy Heater could eventually get a look at fullback while any of the others (except John Lyon) could possibly develop into offensive linemen, particularly Jason Benn and Casey Tyler.
Players Returning – Nick Newton (1) Todd Bachert (1) Francisco Tipoti (1) Khalif Barnes (2) Dan Dicks (2) Ryan Brooks (2) Robin Meadow (3) Brad Vanneman (3) Tusi Sa'au (3) Clay Walker (4) Robin Kezirian (4)
New Recruits – Juan Garcia, Erik Berglund, Chad Macklin
At first glance it appears the 2003 recruiting class lacks lineman but based on quantity alone the number of offensive lineman seems reasonable. It's my opinion that every recruiting class should have at least three quality offensive line prospects or else you run the risk of not having enough experienced linemen to build your offense around—something I think the Huskies experienced the last two seasons after the 1997 and 1998 recruiting classes only produced one long-term offensive lineman each (Kyle Benn in 1997 and Elliot Zajac in 1998). Two other things also stand out with regard to the returning players: (1) overall quality needs to be upgraded; and (2) there are not enough tackles. The 2003 recruiting class came close to meeting current offensive line needs by adding three (hopefully) quality players. Most importantly, two of the recruits are true tackle prospects. Both Erik Berglund and Chad Macklin are tall players with long arms that fit the mode of a tackle while Juan Garcia should upgrade the talent at guard/center.
Interior Defensive Line Players Returning – Jerome Stevens (1) Terry Johnson (1 or 2)* Josh Miller (2) Junior Coffin (2) Tui Alailefaleula (2) Dan Milsten (4) Stanley Daniels (4) Jordan Reffert (4)
New Recruits – Wilson Afoa
* As a partial qualifier out of high school, Terry Johnson can earn an extra year of eligibility if he graduates by June 2004.
The recruitment of three interior defensive linemen in 2002 made signing only one in the current class palatable. Certainly the Huskies missed out on a couple of more highly regarded prospects they would have been happy to add (or substitute) to this list, but the actual numbers are okay as long as the younger returning players have the ability to be good Division I performers. It would also be positive for the team if Terry Johnson earned a fourth year of eligibility and was willing to come back for the 2004 season.
Returning Players – Manase Hopoi (2 or 3)* Graham Lasee (3) Danny Mateaki (4) Brandon Ala (4) Dash Crutchley (4)
New Recruits – Mike Mapu (2) Rob Lewis
* As a partial qualifier out of high school, Manase Hopoi can earn an extra year of eligibility if he graduates by June 2005.
A good core of defensive ends return but almost all are young and unproven. Manase Hopoi is the only experienced player coming back at defensive end so it seemed important for the Huskies to land a player that could contribute immediately. Junior college transfer Mike Mapu appeared to be that recruit but now we hear that he may redshirt—strange if you ask me. Rob Lewis may start his career at linebacker but appears to have the body frame to grow into a defensive end and I would expect that to happen relatively early in his Husky career.
None of the defensive ends will be seniors next season so everyone will be eligible to come back in 2004. However, I would not be surprised to see Donnie Mateaki eventually move inside and there may be a player or two that won't be good enough to play so I expect the Huskies to recruit at least another two defensive end prospects this coming year.
Returning Players (Mike) – Tim Galloway (2) Joe Lobendahn (2)
New Recruits – Kyle Trew
Returning Players (Will) – Marquis Cooper (1) Scott White (4) Cory Jones (3)
New Recruits – Tahj Bomar
Returning Players (Sam) – Greg Carothers (1) Tyler Krambrink (1)
New Recruits – Chris Hemphill
The most significant changes in the linebacking corps from last year are the absence of Ben Mahdavi and the arrival of Greg Carothers (from safety). This is a unit that really needs to step up and make its presence known. Husky linebacker play hasn't been up to par the last few years and it would be nice to see that change, but I am not sure if the talent level is up to it yet. Marquis Cooper is proven at Will and should have a solid senior year. I really believe Cooper is a player that could have really benefited from a redshirt season when he was a freshman. He will finish with a good career but with a redshirt season he might have been capable of an all-conference career.
The Huskies will have good competition at the Will and Sam linebacker spots but those players still need to prove their worth at this level. Carothers and Krambrink should be good, steady performers but the defense will really benefit if either Joe Lobendahn or Tim Galloway step up to be a difference maker at Mike.
Scott White looks like he will be a solid defender in the future for the Huskies but long-term depth is still questionable. The position is already light in numbers and three players finish their eligibility this season so look for an emphasis on linebacker recruiting this coming year. The Huskies could easily take up to four linebackers in the next recruiting class.
Corners - Returning Players – Roc Alexander (1) Chris Massey (1) Derrick Johnson (2) Sam Cunningham (2) Domynic Shaw (2) Matt Fountaine (4) Kim Taylor (4)
New Recruits – Derrick Bradley, Cody Ellis, Clarence "Dre" Simpson
Safeties - Returning Players – Owen Biddle (1) Jimmy Newell (2) Evan Benjamin (3) James Sims (3)
New Recruits – Durrell Moss, C.J. Wallace
Nate Robinson's ability and attitude will be missed in 2003 but the Huskies should be fine at cornerback if Derrick Johnson and Roc Alexander can stay healthy. Chris Massey has lots of experience and fills a back-up role nicely. Robinson's departure should actually accelerate Matt Fountaine's development and he now appears to be one of the main cornerbacks of the future. Cornerback depth will be real solid if Sam Cunningham can reach the potential that he appeared to flash early in his Husky career.
The safety position is a concern as there isn't a proven player in the group. A healthy Jimmy Newell would really help the Husky because he seems to have the best pass coverage skills of the safeties. Evan Benjamin is a tough player who should be strong against the run. The combination of Newell and Benjamin will also provide the Huskies with better speed at safety then they have seen in awhile. James Sims and Owen Biddle could challenge for starting spots and are likely the two top back-ups. Sims appears to be a very good athlete that is growing into the position while Biddle is reliable, experienced safety. Having said all that, the current safeties still have a lot to prove at this level and the incoming freshmen will be given a chance to make immediate inroads at the position. Expectations are high for incoming freshman C.J. Wallace and don't be surprised to see him playing early.
The Huskies can likely get away with recruiting just a couple defensive backs in the upcoming recruiting class if they so choose.
Placekicker - Returning Players – None
New Recruits – Michael Braunstein
Punter - Returning Players – None
New Recruits – Sean Douglas
Relying on two true freshmen as kickers scares the heck out of me. If they handle the transition like John Anderson did in 1999 then the Huskies will be fine. If they don't handle the transition well then the Huskies are not likely to win any games with special teams (like Don James' teams could). In fact, special teams could cost them a game or two. As long as Braunstein and Douglas make decent transitions then there will be no need to recruit a kicker in the upcoming recruiting class.