Where They Stand: A look at UW's OG/C Spots

We continue our position-by-position look at what happened this past season, the returning players at each position and we give our thoughts on what things might look like in 2015. Today, we look at the guard and centers where there will be quite a bit of competition during the offseason to figure out who will play where...

2014 Review - Heading into the season, the offensive line looked like a real strength of the football team. The Huskies returned a ton of experience and looked to have the players poised to allow the team to continue to run well and take pressure off of a a young quarterback still getting his feet wet. Instead, the Huskies were outmatched on a weekly basis by more physical teams and they got inconsistent play up front, especially on the inside. At the interior spots, players like Mike Criste, Dexter Charles and Colin Tanigawa were the leaders while James Atoe was a big body with snaps at several spots. However, things didn't work out real well. Tanigawa was inserted at center, but late-season struggles with errant shotgun snaps forced him to move to guard and Criste came in and solidified things. Atoe showed his versatility in moving outside when Ben Riva and Coleman Shelton went down with injuries, but he was only average at best. The team still averaged nearly 190 yards rushing per game, but most of those yards came against the bad teams the Huskies faced toward the end of the season. Overall, the line-play was well below what Washington needed it to be and that was something many didn't expect with the vaunted "Cascade Front" entering their fifth year at UW.

Returning Players

OG Dexter Charles (6-5, 311) (RS Sr.)
OG/OC Siosifa Tufunga (6-3, 321) (RS Sr.)
OG Shane Brostek (6-4, 283) (RS Jr.)
OG Cory Fuavai (6-3, 318) (RS Jr.)
OC Dane Crane (6-3, 301) (RS So.)
OG/OT Andrew Kirkland (6-4, 315) (RS So.)
OG Michael Kneip (6-5, 301) (RS Jr.)*
OG Jesse Sosebee (6-5, 317) (RS Fr.)
OG John Turner (6-3, 275) (RS Fr.)
OG Morgan Richey (6-4, 280) (RS Fr.)*
* denotes walk-on

Incoming Freshmen

Henry Roberts (6-5, 265)
Jared Hilbers (6-6, 275)

Position Overview

Dexter Charles - Charles is the unquestioned leader heading into the offseason. Charles has started 30 games in his three years as a starter, earning Honorable Mention All-Pac 12 as a sophomore. Charles is a mauler with good feet and smarts. He struggles a bit against physical interior defensive linemen, but for the most part, Charles can hold his own. He's a solid, not great, player who has the talent to play in the NFL, but he struggled some in his first year in line coach Chris Strausser's scheme. Now, as a senior, he'll be counted on to realize his potential and be the leader of what will be one of the youngest groups of lineman in the conference.

Shane Brostek - Brostek began his career back in 2012 and it proved to be too quick as he was dominated by defensive lineman that started across from him. He also struggled with injuries and never seemed to find favor with the old coaching staff. Once Chris Petersen and Strausser came in, they determined that Brostek would redshirt in the hopes of getting back an experienced and mature player that can realize the potential he had when he came out of high school in Hawaii where schools from across the country had offered him. This spring will be a huge chance for Brostek to prove that he is ready to step up and take a starting spot.

Siosifa Tufunga - Tufunga is probably the biggest beneficiary of the coaching change. Under Dan Cozzetto, Tufunga found himself mired behind several players and never seemed to gain favor with the old-school coach, but under Strausser's tutelage, Tufunga seemed to thrive and even started four games, due to injuries. Tufunga has the ability to play center or guard, so his versatility is definitely and asset the Huskies may call upon during the 2015 season.

Cory Fuavai - Fuavai just has never made a name for himself and he saw no game-action as third-year player this fall. It remains to be seen how he will be used or if he sticks around to finish out his college career.

Dane Crane - When Crane signed back in 2013, many thought he would be the next great Husky center, destined to earn All-Conference honors before he leaves Montlake. That could still be true, but the 2014 season didn't see him challenge for playing time at all and never saw a snap on the field during the season, so his status is still a mystery. Crane is explosive and a great drive blocker, but Washington's blocking scheme is more about angles and technique rather than raw power. We'll see how his progress goes, but he's a ways away from earning meaningful reps on the field right now.

Andrew Kirkland - Kirkland came in as a tackle, but he was moved inside when Strausser took over. Kirkland saw some reps in games vs. Oregon State and Washington State, but he has yet to see any meaningful playing time. This offseason will be huge for many players, but none more than Kirkland who has an opening at right guard sitting right in front of him.

Michael Kneip - After his freshman season back in 2013, Kneip, a walk-on, was considered to be an up-and-comer. He played with a nasty streak and looked poised to push for playing time, but that never materialized and he seems to be lost in the numbers right now. In the fall, we didn't get much of a chance to see how Kneip has progressed, so hopefully we get a look at what he can do during the spring.

Jesse Sosebee - If there is a player that is more anticipated by program insiders than Sosebee, I'd like to meet him. Word is that Sosebee is poised to push for playing time this coming fall. He's big, he's a physical presence and he's got surprisingly good feet for a man his size. Right now, you can probably count on Sosebee battling someone else for playing time at right guard, but we'll just have to be patient and see how he's progressed during the spring and summer.

John Turner - Turner is an athletic guard prospect who arrived on campus a bit undersized. Turner is a player that could wind up being a surprise this offseason, but since we didn't get much of a look at him during fall camp, he's another player that we will need to wait and see what happens this spring and how far he's come before we can make a projection about how he fits into things.

Morgan Richey - When Richey opted to walk-on at Washington over offers from Eastern Washington and Portland State among others, it seemed like early proof the new staff was really going to work magic with local programs and players. Richey was arguably the best offensive lineman for Bellevue when he was a senior and Henry Roberts was a junior. Richey is technically sound and he's smart. It should be fun to watch him develop over the next few years to see if he can truly be a player that can challenge for playing time or if he's merely a depth-type that provides a good look on the practice squad during the week.

2015 Preview - The guard and center spots look like they will be very competitive this spring and summer. There are plenty of bodies to work with, but the Husky coaches definitely want this time to get more physical and more talented up front. Charles appears to be the only one that is likely assured of a spot while players like Sosebee, Kirkland, Crane and Tufunga will likely battle it out to start at the other two spots. If he were bigger, Roberts would likely be in the mix as well, but since he'll need to put on some size and strength, he's likely headed toward a redshirt season along with Hilbers. The one wildcard sure seems to be Brostek. He's been quiet the past two years, but if he can push for playing time, that would only be a plus for the Huskies who could certainly use an injection of toughness up front, especially on the interior where only Charles appears to play with the intensity the coaches are looking for right now.

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