Who Will Play, Part Two

Now that Signing Day is complete, it’s time to look at the 2016 class and see which signees are expected to contribute from Day One. Since there were 18 signees (if you include Myles Rice), we’ll break the list down into three nice sections. 

Part One covered the six least expected to play - in other words, most likely to redshirt in 2016.

For Sunday, we’re covering the next group - that group that’s just in-between those that may or may not play, depending on injuries, how quickly they pick up their responsibilities, how quickly they adjust to the speed of football at the BCS level, and the list goes on. 

Just to reiterate, we feel these players could play but a lot will factor into what was just described above. And they may start out playing the first couple games, but if it quickly becomes a situation where redshirting is the best option for the player and the team, it may go that route. That did happen for a couple of players last year, namely Austin Joyner and Quinten Pounds - both lost for the season due to injury. 

12. Kentrell Love - Love has that Kevin King size that you love to see in a modern cornerback; 6-foot-1 with long, rangy arms. He also comes from a powerhouse program in southern California - Corona Centennial - so there’s no doubt he has prepared well for playing some of the toughest teams in the CIF. But also like King, he comes in needing a year in the weight room in the worst way. King played because they had a need and he was pressed into action; that shouldn’t have to be the case with Love. He’s clearly good enough to get in the mix in fall camp, but I’m sure Jimmy Lake would ‘love’ to shelve him for the duration and unleash Kentrell to the rest of the world a year from now. 

11. Isaiah Gilchrist - The one thing Kentrell Love needs to do when he gets to Montlake - get bigger, faster, and stronger - is something Isaiah Gilchrist already has a jump on his teammate. They are clearly different athletes; Love is 6-foot-1, while Gilchrist is 5-foot-10. But Gilchrist is a ready-built 188 pounds - 23 pounds heavier than Love. That means his body is a lot further ahead in terms of being able to handle the rigors of a full Pac-12 campaign. And that’s about the only thing separating Love from Gilchrist at this point, but it’s a big enough jump that it’ll put Gilchrist in the special teams conversation the minute fall camp starts. 

10. Amandre Williams - I would have put Williams up just a little higher on the list because of his spring availability, but as we saw with Kyler Manu in 2015, early enrollees aren’t necessarily guaranteed playing time. In the case of the 6-foot-3, 223-pound future BUCK, no one will question his size or physicality. Travis Feeney was basically the same size in 2015, so just from a raw numbers standpoint Williams would look ready-made to fit right in with what Feeney was doing. Not so fast, my friends. There will be a host of players already on campus trying to fill Feeney’s void; Psalm Wooching, Benning Potoa’e, Jusstis Warren, Bryce Sterk, Tevis Bartlett, Will Dissly and Joe Mathis were all players that gave BUCK a shot during fall camp. It appears as if UW DC Pete Kwiatkowski wants as many different body types to use at the BUCK, depending on what down, distance and circumstance in the game requires. So Williams will be in good company. 

9. Camilo Eifler - With Williams, we’re starting to really get our noses into those ‘fringe’ candidates for burning redshirts - and Eifler certainly qualifies. There’s great arguments for both sides. On the redshirt side, he really just started playing organized football three years ago and could do with a year in college to get himself up to speed. Heck, you could make that case for most all freshmen, to a certain extent. On the no redshirt side, Eifler came to play. Eifler came to re-create the Shaq Thompson model. He wants to be that guy, and is very motivated to be the next great linebacker at Washington. It’s hard to say no to that kind of drive, especially if it shows up on the field. Like most, he’ll probably have to earn his stripes on special teams and scout first, but I doubt that’ll bother him too much. Eifler is too good an athlete to keep down for very long - but might it be in his best interests to keep the redshirt on? Time will tell. 

8. Brandon Wellington - Get used to seeing Eifler and Wellington’s name side-by-side for the duration, because they are going to be mentioned a lot the next few years. And frankly, the only major difference between Eifler and Wellington from a pure playing time standpoint is familiarity and versatility. Wellington is a true triple threat, and that kind of athleticism won’t be wasted by this staff. Sure, they will have to quickly identify how to best use him in year one but I don’t see how Wellington sits out 2016. He knows the program as well as any 2016 signee and as a local kid he’ll be plenty jacked up by the prospect of running out of that tunnel and playing immediately in front of friends and family. So it’s not a big margin at all between Wellington and Eifler when it comes to who gets more time, but I’ll shade it toward the local player for now. 

7. Kamari Pleasant - Reports keep coming up from southern California that UW got a steal in Kamari Pleasant. Etiwanda High School is a basketball school, so football tends to get a little more overlooked. At 6 feet tall and 195 pounds, Pleasant is plug-and-play; he’s clearly got the size and frame you need to withstand punishment as a Pac-12 running back. But the main reason I bumped him up to No. 7 is because of depth. Dwayne Washington is off to ply his trade in the NFL and by now it’s pretty much common knowledge that Deontae Cooper is heading out the door for a graduate year somewhere. Don’t know where yet, but expect it to happen. When it does, that’ll leave only Myles Gaskin, Lavon Coleman and Jomon Dotson as running backs with carries in 2015. Now for sure you’ll have receivers like John Ross and Chico McClatcher picking up some of the slack, but Washington has to have more than three capable running backs in their stable for 2016. Even if they use both Pleasant and Sean McGrew, who we’ll come to in Part Three, that’s only five scholarship running backs. That’s the number they used last year, and I fully expect it’ll be the number they’ll use in 2016. Chris Petersen and Keith Bhonapha have constantly spoken on the wear and tear running backs take, and as much as they’ll be tempted to use Myles Gaskin until he cracks - it’s not the safe play. They’ll need change-of-pace backs to help shoulder the load, and Pleasant can - at least on film - be a change-of-pace back. Dotson only got 18 carries in six games’ worth of work in 2015, so that will be the measuring stick. Would that kind of workload be enough next fall to burn Pleasant’s redshirt? It may have to be, based on the numbers. 

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Who Will Play - Part One

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