2015’s Most Important Signees, Pt 2

We talked about those players most likely to redshirt out of the 2015 recruiting class; who is left? Washington used eight true frosh last season, is it likely Chris Petersen and his staff will use around the same number? And will the frosh have the same kind of impact players like Budda Baker and Sidney Jones did last season?

It’s doubtful Washington will need to rely on as many true freshman as they did in 2014, simply because there not as many glaring holes in the lineup, and Petersen also signed 23 players in the 2014 recruiting class. The eight true freshmen that did play - Baker, Jones, Naijiel Hale, Darren Gardenhire, Dante Pettis, Brayden Lenius, Will Dissly, and Tristan Vizcaino - will again shore up positions of need, allowing more 2015 signees to redshirt.

But there’s always a handful of newcomers that simply impose themselves on the lineup to the point where they can’t be denied. Who will those new boys be? Let’s take a look at the top-12 most likely - at least on paper - to challenge for playing time their first year on campus.

Click HERE to catch up on the first group of signees.
12. Jordan Miller - For the 6-foot-1, 164-pound Miller, from Oceanside, Calif., he comes in at a time where three freshmen played just in front of him - so a redshirt year would be almost assured. But here’s the rub; there’s no guarantee Brandon Lewis - the one scholarship freshman cornerback that did redshirt in 2014 - comes back from injury, and after that there’s really no one else behind Sidney Jones, Naijiel Hale, and Darren Gardenhire, so enter Miller and Austin Joyner. It wouldn’t shock me at all to see Miller compete for playing time, especially with his 6-foot-1 frame. He’s similarly built to Jones.

11. A.J. Carty - Carty, the 6-foot-2, 270-pound long snap signee from Servite in Santa Ana, Calif., was long expected to be a greyshirt, a player who would delay enrollment and come in during the beginning of 2016 to help balance out the numbers - but now Carty could show up on campus this summer. That still doesn’t explain why Carty would be rated so high in terms of possibly playing, but there’s one big factor that plays into this determination; injury. For basically all other positions on the field there’s backup, there’s cover. But if Ryan Masel gets hurt, for some crazy reason, there’s guys that can snap in an emergency but there aren’t guys that have been brought in specifically to long snap - until Carty arrives. That’s the only reason he’s at No. 11; just in case.

10. Jason Scrempos - With the need to replace so many defensive linemen, the Huskies are going to have a hard time avoiding the youth parade. That’s where Scrempos, a 6-foot-6, 252-pound defensive linemen from Milpitas, Calif. comes in. Scrempos is one of a handful of players on this list that was recruited by both Steve Sarkisian and Chris Petersen, so there’s something that - at least on paper - that would lead you to believe Scrempos can make an immediate difference. And given his frame and size, there’s a lot to the idea that Scrempos would be a nice replacement for the graduated Evan Hudson at the 3-technique or as a bigger end in jumbo packages.

9. Benning Potoae - There were rumors the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Potoae, the younger brother of former UW defensive tackle Sione Potoae, was considered the top defensive lineman on Washington’s War Room board, and for good reason; Benning has been terrorizing defenses for the last four years in high school. As the bigger ‘Husky’ defensive end, Potoae was made for the position, and should be able to compete with players like Joe Mathis right away for playing time. Again, in an ideal world Washington would love to redshirt all their bigger players, but when you’re trying to replace four senior defensive linemen in the second year of a regime change, coaching staffs are going to start to err on going with the guys they’ve recruited as opposed to the guys they inherited. It happened under Sark, and it’ll happen under Petersen as well.

8. Andre Baccellia - You might be thinking; UW is going to need all the receivers they can get their hands on next year! There’s a great shot all four receivers they signed should play in 2015. All you have to do is look at the numbers to know they are woefully short in that department; so short that, if you assume John Ross is only going to be available for some spot duty the Huskies only return four scholarship receivers. Ouch! So even the 5-foot-9, 165-pound speed merchant from Thousand Oaks, Calif. will get his shot to show he can break a game open. Speed is the name of Baccellia’s game, so he should be given a chance as a game-breaking special teamer as well.

7. Quinten Pounds - Pounds is an intriguing player. At 5-foot-11 and 166 pounds, the Cypress, Calif.-based athlete was recruited as a receiver, but he could just as easily be a defensive back for Jimmy Lake. But Lake now has an embarrassment of riches compared to Brent Pease, so Pease is now in the position Lake found himself last year - a coach saddled with young talent that would have to take their lumps the hard way, during games. Size-wise, Pounds isn’t that far away from Dante Pettis. Ability-wise, Pounds was asked to do it all for Cypress as a senior - throw it, run it, catch it, tackle it. He’s not a polished receiver by any means, but he’s just a really good football player that should flourish after getting coached up. He may struggle early as he finds himself, but Pounds should be one of those athletes that really jumps from year one to year two in a program and comes back in 2016 a different kid.

6. Chico McClatcher - Anyone that has followed recruiting in the Puget Sound area the last few years definitely knows all about Chico McClatcher. At 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, the Federal Way star will never win any big man contests, but what he doesn’t have in sheer size he more than makes up for it with blinding quickness and speed. That’s his calling card; making people miss and anticipating moves before you can. He’s put on some good weight becoming an every-down back for John Meagher at Federal Way, but still retained his explosiveness in the return game. There’s no doubt Jonathan Smith can put together a package for Chico like he will for John Ross, and he’ll factor into both the return competitions the minute he steps on campus.

5. Austin Joyner - When thinking about which true freshmen will play in 2015, I have to admit that Austin Joyner is a bit of a mystery to me. Not from an athletic standpoint, though; the 5-foot-10, 192-pounder from Marysville is absolutely ready in that regard. He’s a tough kid, a physical kid, and he could find his way around a Pac-12 football field right away. The issue I’m struggling with is the fact that Joyner is a phenomenal high school running back that is finding his way as a defensive player. He could be a fantastic cornerback in time, but he has never been a defensive player first during his days as a Tomahawk, and that’s where I think he could be exposed if played too early. But his talent is undeniable, and I wouldn’t put it past Joyner to make a splash.

4. Myles Gaskin - In Chris Petersen’s Utopia, Myles Gaskin would never see the field in 2015. There are four scholarship running backs chomping at the bit to show they can be the guy, but that’s exactly why the 5-foot-9, 195-pound back from O’Dea just might factor in; none of those guys have shown they can be ‘the guy’. Every one of them, save Jomon Dotson, has had ample opportunity to prove their worth as an every-down back, but none of them gained more than 700 yards in 2014. Combined - especially when you add in Shaq Thompson’s contribution - they did a good job of reproducing Bishop Sankey’s 2013 totals in the aggregate. But Thompson, clearly the best back UW had last year if you go by yards per carry, is gone. That means there’s room for Gaskin to prove his worth.

3. Isaiah Renfro - Isaiah Renfro will play in 2015, this is my five-star lock of the year. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Renfro, from Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, Calif. is the kind of productive, classic receiver you’d expect Chris Petersen to recruit. He had over 1300 receiving yards as a senior, over 22 yards per catch. Any Pac-12 school would love that kind of productivity to come into their lineup, especially when they only have a handful of receivers returning and only one of those you could consider a ‘bigger’ receiver. Renfro isn’t the flashiest athlete, not the fastest runner - but he has sure hands, runs great routes, and understands the route trees and concepts UW will be (literally) throwing at him starting in the summer.

2. Ezekiel Turner - The last two are no-brainers, but some might debate which one is more important. Turner is a 6-foot-1, 192-pound junior college safety brought in to bolster the size component to the Washington secondary corps. In raw terms, consider Turner to be Kam Chancellor to Budda Baker’s Earl Thomas. His height and weight is what’s listed by UW; I’ve seen 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds thrown around too, so obviously we’ll know just how big he is once spring ball starts. The best part about Turner though is the fact he’s not your typical JC recruit; he went to LA Pierce College as a predictor, meaning he went there as a full qualifier. He only played one season at Pierce, meaning he’s got four years at UW to play three seasons. Schools like UW don’t recruit junior college players just so they can ride the pine, so don’t expect Turner to redshirt at all.

1. Jake Browning - You might be thinking to yourself; why would Jake Browning be the most important 2015 signee if playing time is the biggest determining factor? It’s because the 6-foot-1, 202-pound Browning, from Folsom, Calif., has a chance to play as a true freshman. It’s that simple. When you are talking about the most important position on the field, everything about it becomes ‘most important’. And even if a quarterback in front of him ends up as the starter for 2015, it doesn’t mean Browning necessarily sits; he could be just one play away from being the starter the rest of the season. Either way, the early returns for the frosh, who is already enrolled at UW, is that he’s impressing players with his ability to make all the throws. If you put a gun to my head and asked me to predict which quarterback will start the 2015 season, I wouldn’t say Jake Browning. But I think there’s a very good chance he could play this coming season, and that alone would make him the most important signee of 2015.

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