2014 Class Positional Impact: Offensive Line

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 each of the offensive linemen who signed with the Dawgs on February 5th will impact things once they arrive...

Who Signed

Matt James (Coeur D'Alene High School - Coeur D'Alene, Id.)
Jesse Sosebee (Edison High School - Huntington Beach, Ca.)
Devin Burleson (Highland High School - Palmdale, Ca.)
John Turner (Loyola High School - Los Angeles, Ca.)


Background

Heading into the 2014 recruiting cycle, the Huskies appears poised to sign three offensive lineman and all of them were expected to be tackles.

Once the old staff left, that thinking went out of the window and the new staff, especially offensive line coach Chris Strausser, went hard after several prospects he already had in his sights when he was at Boise State.

The first thing that Strausser and head coach Chris Petersen did was to firm up the commitment of James, whom they wanted desperately at Boise State, but who had chosen Washington after visiting back in the spring and summer.

The next was to get Sosebee to flip his commitment from Boise State to Washington and to reel in Turner who the old staff had offered and that the new staff liked a lot when they were at BSU.

Lastly, they wanted to get an athletic prospect that might be considered a project by scouts, but whom they thought they could mold into the player they wanted and they got him in Burleson, a former basketball player who had played just two years of organized football.

We have to note that two other players who signed on February 5th, Fife (Wa.) OL/DL Kaleb McGary and Tumwater (Wa.) OL/DL Jaime Bryant both could wind up on offense, but they will start their careers at Washington along the defensive line.

Bryant was a commitment to the old staff who graduated in 2013, but he greyshirted and did not sign a letter-of-intent until earlier this month. He spent the past year working out and adding size so that he can be ready for the rigors of the college game.

McGary is a physically gifted player with a ton of size and the mentality to be good at whatever he does. He has stated over and over his preference to play on defense, so the coaches will allow him to start there and then will figure out where he fits best once they get a look at him this fall.
Scouting/Film Study

In James, Turner and Burleson, Washington did in fact bring in their three tackles.

James is a punishing run blocker who loves to maul his opponents. He's got the size, athleticism and feet necessary to play tackle, but I love what he can do inside. He will start out at right tackle most likely, but he has the feet to play on the left side if necessary and I think he could be a big-time player on the inside if the coaches decide to move him there.

Turner also has the mentality to play inside, but he's a better fit outside. His recruitment blew up once schools got a look at him during the season. What they saw was a player who had long arms and good feet, but also had the ability to pull and make blocks down the field. I imagine he will start out at tackle somewhere and then Strausser will decide where he fits best.

When you watch Burleson, you start to drool thinking about his abilities after three years with strength coach Tim Socha and under the tutelage of Strausser. He has amazing athleticism and quickness for a guy his size and he's just now starting to learn the finer points of the game. His technique is very raw and he has a tendency to take too big of a first step out of his stance so he gets a little off balance at times. That is easily correctable and something that shouldn't hold him back. The sky is the limit for him. He just needs to show that he wants it.

Sosebee is the one sure-fire inside guy in the class and what Strausser and Petersen like about him is his willingness to get physical with guys at the point of attack. He didn't have a lot of offers -- just UW and BSU -- but he comes from a good program in Edison and he's another mauler.

McGary, should he wind up along the offensive line is a straight-up tackle. He brings a defensive mentality to the game and could be a real force.

Bryant, as long as he's improved his strength, could play inside or outside. One of his biggest drawbacks was his motor. Coaches and scouts were leery of offering a guy with his size and athleticism that didn't just dominate at the high school level. Well, word is he got after it during the past year and has really shaped his body nicely. Now it comes down to his mentality. I think he winds up here eventually, but, like McGary, he will be on defense to start.


Depth Chart/The Future

The "Cascade Front" consisting of Ben Riva, Colin Tanigawa, Micah Hatchie, Mike Criste and James Atoe all exhaust their eligibility after the 2014 season, so there will be plenty of jobs open starting in the spring of 2015 and moving forward.

Dexter Charles, as long as he remains healthy, will be one of the starters at guard in 2015 and he will likely a captain. That means that the 2014 signees will be given every chance to show they are ready to push for playing time after using their redshirt seasons this fall (which all are projected to do).

At tackle, Taylor Hindy (who has done nothing) and Jake Eldrenkamp (looking more and more like a solid player) will be the elder statesmen in 2015 and Andrew Kirkland and Coleman Shelton are both expected to push for playing time by then as well. I expect that James and Turner will be the first two ready to push for playing time once they have spent some time in the program. Ultimately, Burleson could have the highest upside, but he's a handful of years away before he should be in the conversation.

Sosebee will play a guard spot and he will need a couple of years before he's ready to really challenge for playing time. He'll need to fight through Cory Fuavai, Shane Brostek and Michael Kneip to find playing time. I expect Sosebee will be a starter by the time he's a redshirt sophomore or, at the latest, a redshirt junior and he could be joined by James or Turner inside depending on how things play out.

If they wind up on offense, McGary, as noted above, will be a tackle while Bryant may be a better fit inside.


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