Spring Breakout Players: No. 3

Washington's OL brings back a wealth of experience with eight players who started at least a game in 2012; the flip side is that UW loses their most experienced player to graduation and two more returners will be very limited or unavailable for spring due to injury. The remainder have to step up and be counted to show leadership. The prime candidate to lead UW's OL forward? Dexter Charles.

Background: As a junior at Stanwood High School in 2009, Charles helped the Spartans to their first playoff berth since 2005. For his efforts he was named a second-team All-WesCo 4A North offensive lineman. The following season he broke through, earning first-team All-WesCo 4A North honors as well as AP and Seattle Times All-State (all levels) accolades. Dexter was ranked the No. 102 offensive tackle in the country as a senior by Scout.com

Why Charles?: Simply put, Dexter seemed the best equipped at this point to step forward and provide some backbone to an offensive line that has experience coming back from 2012 but is still very much in transition and crying out for some big men to come through and lead from the front. With the graduation of center Drew Schaefer, there are two upperclassmen in Erik Kohler and Colin Tanigawa that could step into the leadership vacuum but they will be either very limited (Kohler) or unavailable (Tanigawa) during the spring. Micah Hatchie, Ben Riva, Mike Criste, James Atoe and Mike Criste are all returning starters from the initial 2010 recruiting class nicknamed 'The Cascade Front' (Kohler and Tanigawa are also a part of that group), but it's unclear how much any of those players are interested in becoming the focal point for the offensive line. Charles, on the other hand, is following the blueprint set by Tanigawa, who is a year ahead of him. He started as a redshirt frosh, but unlike Panda, who was knocked down with a knee injury near the end of the 2011 campaign and has struggled to regain his form since, Charles has remained healthy and will be looked at as a staple of UW's 2013 OL. On top of that, Charles has always shown a willingness to go above and beyond to prove his love of the game and of the school. He came to numerous spring practices while still a senior at Stanwood to get a taste of what college ball would be like, and has continued to educate himself and make big strides each year he's been at UW. There's no question in my mind that Charles as the physical and mental capacity, as well as the all-important mean streak, to lead by example and show the rest of the offensive line how it's done this spring. And with the other upperclassmen either unwilling or incapable of filling Schaefer's leadership void, Charles will be in a great position to take it with both hands.

The Competition: With Tanigawa out for Spring Football, there will be little competition for Charles at the left guard spot. Now given the fact that Charles, at 6-foot-4 and 292 pounds, is similarly built to Washington's last dominant left tackle - Senio Kelemete - he could certainly challenge Hatchie for that starting LT spot if the coaches decide he's the best fit there. That means someone would have to move inside, and they have players that can do that. Even though he'll be very limited, Kohler started four games at left guard as a true freshman, so he could potentially slide in if the staff wants to see what Charles can do out wide. Siosifa Tufunga was the player that backed Charles up at left guard throughout 2012 and he could also be a potential solution there if Charles was given a look at other positions. Redshirt frosh Cory Fuavai and Michael Kneip are other options that could get looks, and with the news that Shane Brostek is moving back to the OL from the DL he's another interior lineman that should get reps at all three inside positions. The spring is all about competition and getting film that you might not have a chance to compile once you start getting into game mode during the fall, so there's a myriad of options and opportunities for some of the younger linemen to show the staff just how far they've come.

Dexter Charles Scout.com Profile

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