2014 Class Positional Impact: WR/TE

Today we continue our position-by-position look at how the players in the 2014 class will impact each position, where they fit into the depth as well as how they will effect things this fall and in the future. In this article we look at the impact of three players -- one wide receiver and two tight ends...

Who Signed

WR Dante Pettis (Junipero Serra Catholic High School - San Juan Capistrano, Ca.)
TE/WR Brayden Lenius (Chaminade College Prep - West Hills, Ca.)
TE Drew Sample (Newport High School - Bellevue, Wa.)


Background

Under the old staff, Washington had two very talented receivers committed -- Rahshead Johnson and Erik Brown -- but when Steve Sarkisian left, both opted to look at other schools and both wound up signing elsewhere. No matter, the Huskies just went out and found a sleeper receiver (Pettis) who several scouts, including Greg Biggins, were very high on.

Pettis was being wooed by the Husky coaches when they were at Boise State and they continued to talk to him and got him up on a visit late in the process. He committed shortly after returning from his official visit, telling Biggins that "I've known for a couple of days I was going to commit to Washington. They always say when you know the right fit for you, you get that special feeling and that's what happened for me. I just really loved it there, not just the football part but the academic fit as well. It's a great campus and the thing that put UW over the top was I started to think more about life after football. Washington has not just great academics but great alumni support as well so it was a great all around fit for me."

At tight end, the Huskies had gotten a very early commitment from Chase Blakley and that is how things looked like they were going to play out. However, when Sarkisian left, Chris Petersen brought in a local star (Sample) and UW and Blakley decided to go their separate ways.

Sample was a player the old staff loved, but with Blakley committed, they weren't pursuing him. He was committed to Boise State, but once Petersen moved over to Montlake, it was a natural move for him to stay close to home.

Lenius had offers from the Huskies as well as Miami, Minnesota, Washington State, Utah and San Diego State. His recruitment didn't pick up until after his senior season was completed, so he took his visits and then made his decision to be a Dawg. He's big and physical and has the body type that makes you think he will wind up growing into a tight end after a couple of years in the system.


Scouting/Film Study

Pettis is quick, strong for his size and he has the athleticism to go up and get the ball in the air. He has good hands and enough burst to get deep although he looks much better on intermediate routes where his above-average route-running skills get him some separation.

He needs to get stronger so he can be a better blocker, but he's a pretty complete player already.

Sample is an every-down tight end with outstanding blocking skills and soft hands. He's got enough speed to really challenge safeties and linebackers in the middle-seam, but he'll make his mark as a blocker and on short routes. He looks like an ideal third-down and red zone target.

The thing about Lenius is that he has very good speed for a guy his size, but he's never been an in-line blocker, so he'll definitely need to work on that area of his game before he sees the field. Will he be a wideout or a receiver? That won't be determined until he arrives this summer, but I expect he will get most of his early looks at receiver and then the staff will watch and see how he grows. If he gets big enough, tight end will likely be his spot, but he could fill the same role that Josh Perkins has found himself in at H-Back and really be a weapon in the passing game as he is faster than most linebackers and he should be bigger than most safeties by the time he sees the field.


Depth Chart/The Future

With their top two wideouts' futures still a question mark -- Kasen Williams continues to rehab from a broken fibula and foot displacement and Damore'ea Stringfellow found himself in trouble for an off-field incident -- the receiver position will see a lot of players vying for playing time this spring and summer.

Pettis appears headed for a redshirt season, but if either Williams or Stringfellow miss playing time then he could definitely see himself in the wideout rotation. John Ross, like Stringfellow, is only a sophomore and he's one of the biggest playmakers on the team. Jaydon Mickens had a breakout season, but appears to be a better fit out of the slot.

As noted above, Lenius could play receiver if needed or he could grow into a tight end. It just depends on how much size he adds and how much speed and quickness and he can retain. Perkins and Darrell Daniels both are former receivers now occupying the H-Back/small Tight End spot on the roster and Lenius definitely seems to fit into the same mold. He's also the prototype of what Boise State has done at receiver the past couple of years before Petersen headed to Washington, so he may just wind up being a big receiver for the Dawgs. Fans should expect him to redshirt so that he can add size and strength and then see the field in his second or third year at UW.

Sample is already a very good blocker and he seems to have enough athleticism and strength to see the field this year, but with senior Michael Hartvigson and David Ajamu, along with Daniels and Perkins, the Huskies appear to be in decent shape and likely will not need him to see the field. If he does, expect it to be on special teams and in certain "jumbo" packages where his blocking skills can be used. He's likely headed for a redshirt season, but depth might wind up being an issue and if that's the case, then Sample would definitely need to see the field this fall.


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