Dawgs Needed

Washington just completed an 8-5 season which, while it didn’t meet everyone’s expectations, it wasn’t a terrible step back for the program or anything. With a bowl win, the Dawgs can get to nine wins and really carry some momentum into 2015. Looking at 2015, where are the gaps going to be? Clearly, on defense, there are some HUGE shoes to fill. Let’s look at it position by position.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Hau’oli Kikaha, Danny Shelton, Evan Hudson, Andrew Hudson, and Drew Schultz are all gone.

That is some serious attrition, with four starters departing. On the current roster, the competition to fill these spots will be Shane Bowman, Will Dissly, Jarett Finau, Greg Gaines, Jaylen Johnson, Joe Mathis, Elijah Qualls, Taniela Tupou, Damion Turpin, and Vita Vea.

I’m assuming that Kaleb McGary is moving to offensive line.

Dissly, a true sophomore, is nearly 280 pounds, so he can move either inside or out. I believe he fits nicely into the 3-technique, as will Tupou, who will be a 285-pound senior. Gaines is a 320-pound redshirt frosh in 2015 while Qualls will be a 310-pound sophomore. Expect one of those two to try to fill Shelton’s rather large shoes. Vita Vea, another redshirt frosh, is intriguing if he can show stamina at nearly 350 pounds. Mathis, Finau, Johnson, and Bowman all are better suited to be outside guys. Look for Mathis to take on increasing responsibilities as he takes Andrew Hudson’s spot. Cory Littleton will be the new starting “BUCK” in place of Kikaha, unless he moves, in which case Psalm Wooching will get his shot.

In the class of 2015, look for four more defensive linemen to be added. Two defensive ends are currently committed to WashingtonMyles Rice, a 6-foot-4, 230-pounder from Texas, and Milpitas, Calif. product Jason Scrempos, who is already 6-foot-6 and over 250 pounds. He might grow into an interior guy or even an offensive lineman.
LINEBACKERS: John Timu graduates and Shaq Thompson will head to the NFL. Timu has been a four year starter, and Thompson has started since his true freshman year; two tough guys to replace.

Travis Feeney and Scott Lawyer return as linebackers and they’ll bring senior leadership to this group in 2015. The current roster candidates to fill in the other two spots include four sophomores to be: Keishawn Bierria has played a lot and moves well; Sean Constantine, a 225-pounder, could play outside effectively; Connor O’Brien, a 230-pounder; Azeem Victor, a 240-pounder. O'Brien and Victor are thumpers that might be more suited to play inside. Look for the class of 2015 to have four linebackers in it. Current commits at press time include Encino California’s 6-foot-1, 205-pound D. J. Beavers, Atherton Calif. 6-foot, 200-pound Ben Burr-Kirven, and Pocatello Idaho’s Kyler Manu, a 6-foot-1 220-pounder. Manu will enroll early.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Only Travell Dixon graduates, and Marcus Peters was dismissed earlier in the season.

This could be a real bright spot for Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense in 2015. With starting safeties Budda Baker (sophomore in 2015) and Kevin King (junior in 2015) both now seasoned, the back end looks promising. Brandon Beaver appears ready for a bigger role as a junior. Trevor Walker should return healthy as well for a solid junior campaign.

Three dynamic freshmen cornerbacks - Sidney Jones, Naijiel Hale, and Darren Gardenhire - all had their moments in the spotlight last year. All three were pressed into action when Jermaine Kelly went down with a season ending injury early on. Kelly will return as a sophomore in 2015 and if he can return to full speed, he gives the Huskies some serious depth.

And the best cornerback on the roster didn’t even play corner to begin the season. John Ross III was outstanding as a cover corner and speed receiver, and should earn another starting nod on defense in 2015.

Brandon Lewis and Aaron Chapman redshirted. There isn’t a great deal of need at cornerback for the 2015 class, but there are two defensive backs still listed as verbal commitments: Cypress Calif.’s Quinten Pounds, and Jordan Miller, a cornerback from Oceanside, Calif. Isaiah Renfro, though projected as a safety by Scout.com, is being recruited as a receiver by Scout.com.
When you look at the Husky offense, it’s clear that the huge gap will be on the offensive line, where four out of five starters will graduate. Because of this, that is where the offensive focus on the class of 2015 should be.

OFFENSIVE LINE: James Atoe, Mike Criste, Micah Hatchie, Ben Riva, Colin Tanigawa, and Ross Dolbec are all gone. Those are some serious holes to fill.

It will begin with Dexter Charles and Siosifa Tufunga who has been solid contributors at guard. Coleman Shelton should increase his minutes out at tackle as well. That leaves Shane Brostek, Dane Crane, Jake Eldrenkamp, Cory Fuavai, Andrew Kirkland, Michael Kneip, Jesse Sosebee, Matt James, and John Turner as the depth. I would expect Crane and Brostek to challenge for interior positions. Eldrenkamp and Turner will be in line to step up opposite Shelton at the other tackle. Kirkland is a big kid, I’m excited to see what he’ll do this spring.

One thing is clear; there isn’t a lot of known commodity here because nearly all of the experience is walking out the door. I would expect Petersen to bring in four offensive linemen in this year’s class, including greyshirt offensive tackle Devin Burleson, a 6-foot-7, 270-pounder. Petersen is also bringing in the state’s best lineman, Bellevue’s 6-foot-6, 270-pound Henry Roberts. Other verbals include Beaverton’s Jared Hilbers, a 6-foot-7, 270-pound tackle, and Trey Adams from Wenatchee, a 6-foot-7, 270-pounder who also projects to play tackle. If you add Kaleb McGary, a 6-foot-7, 290-pound defensive lineman who redshirted and will likely change positions, that means Petersen and OL Coach Chris Strausser have five solid linemen to develop on top of the three that redshirted in 2014. That’s a good start to the depth.

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