Depth is obviously a consideration when projecting playing time for true freshmen. Eight true freshmen played enough in 2015 to burn their redshirts for that season: QB Jake Browning, RB Myles Gaskin, OT Trey Adams, WR Chico McClatcher, WR Isaiah Renfro (no longer with team), LB Ben Burr-Kirven, LB Tevis Bartlett, and CB Jordan Miller.
So while it wouldn’t be unusual to see seven or eight true freshmen play in 2016, it’s doubtful. Washington isn’t looking to fill important needs at QB, OL and LB like they were last year. But the running back and receiver groups always need quality depth, as well as special teams - and that’s where some of the newest Huskies could make their biggest impact.
Here’s the list of who we think is most likely to play in 2016, from least likely to most likely. Part one of the list can be found HERE
With Elijah Qualls having been moved to end, there's very little backing him up in the standard odd front except Benning Potoa'e. Does that mean Levi Onwuzurike has a chance to play? Of course. One could make the argument he was the best pure defensive end prospect in Texas for the 2016 recruiting class, and that enough should warrant some consideration. But if UW Defensive Coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski and defensive line coach Ikaika Malloe can somehow sneak that redshirt on Levi this fall and hide him in the weight room, he could be a real monster with four to play four starting next spring. What a luxury that would be.
Fuller is the most likely freshmen receiver to see time. He’s physically built to withstand some punishment, and he was a very productive receiver during his time in Texas. He will need to step out and show he can handle things right away, but the Huskies played three true frosh last year so they aren’t adverse to throwing guys straight into the mix.
Ben Burr-Kirven, Sean Constantine, Connor O'Brien and Keishawn Bierria all missed some time during spring football, so there's no guarantee Pete Kwiatkowski and UW Linebackers Coach Bob Gregory can stash both Wellington and Camilo Eifler this fall. And on top of it, they may be just as valuable this fall as special teams performers. Either way, Washington fans should get used to a pairing of Wellington and Eifler down the road, regardless of what roles in the linebacking corps they eventually settle in to.
Eifler has made it a public mission to make sure he doesn't ride the pine this fall, so there's an expectation he's going to make it very hard on Kwiatkowski and Gregory to say no. What does that mean, exactly? Well, no one knows for sure until he gets out on to the practice field this fall, but if I had to hazard a guess I believe Eifler's push toward playing time this season will start with making himself indispensable on special teams.
Amandre Williams and Myles Rice are the other linebackers that could play this fall, and they have a slight advantage over Wellington and Eifler because they practiced all of spring. Those 15 practices should give them an edge over their true freshmen teammates, and not just when it comes to the individual linebacker battles, but also when it comes to understanding special teams and picking up the nuance required to make a difference in that aspect of play.
At this point, the only reason I have Rice listed ever so slightly ahead of Amandre Williams when it comes to potential playing time is because he's probably more physically ready to compete at the Pac-12 level. At 246 pounds, he's over 20 pounds heavier than Williams. On the line of scrimmage that should make a difference. He can also help break up returns on special teams with his size, as well as lay down blocks.
Much like Chico McClatcher was able to do last year, Kamari Pleasant and Sean McGrew have a chance to be that dual-threat offensive player that can do damage on the ground or through the air. Pleasant it probably more in the Dwayne Washington mold of an athlete that has as much experience catching passes as coming out of the backfield. And he's got the size to be able to handle Pac-12 punishment.
McGrew may have a slight edge over Kamari Pleasant because of his top end speed, which is legitimate. But in the end comparing the two is like comparing apples to asparagus: they are going to be asked to do similar things but go about getting there in much different ways. McGrew's only drawback is his height, but he proved to be a tough guy to bring down in the difficult Trinity League while starring for St. John Bosco.
There are two reasons why Taylor Rapp has a legitimate chance to play this fall. One, he had a very good spring and was able to move ahead of players like Brandon Beaver, who missed spring. Two, there aren't any other safeties in the 2016 recruiting class (although Mason Stone is another safety newcomer), so Rapp has a good chance to step in and provide some quality depth at a position that is very strong with starters but drops off a little after that with talent that's just starting to emerge (Zeke Turner) or making a comeback (Trevor Walker).
Murphy should be in the same boat as Kentrell Love and Isaiah Gilchrist, but he has one sizable advantage over his classmates: he's a legitimate three-way threat that can change a game the moment he steps on to the field. Like John Ross and Budda Baker, Murphy is the next in line when it comes to players that get the full-meal treatment. The Washington coaches have left it up to Murphy as to what side of the ball he'll concentrate on now that he's here, but he wants defense. I fully expect Chris Petersen to find a way to get Murphy the ball, whether it's on special teams or with an offensive package specifically designed for him.null