At number 17 is arguably the key to Washington’s success this fall when talking about the defensive backfield. Jojo McIntosh is the heir apparent to the safety position played by Brian Clay last year. Clay, a former walk-on who played previously at Hawaii, didn’t grab the headlines that Budda Baker, Sidney Jones and Kevin King did, but he had more tackles than those three did. In some ways, Clay was the polish that allowed everyone else around him to shine.
So McIntosh has some sizable boots to fill, but the 6-foot-1, 208-pound sophomore has a chance to lap Clay by the time his Husky career is done. He’s bigger, faster, a reputation as a harder hitter, and seems to come at the position with a swagger that Clay didn’t have. While Clay might be perceived as the more cerebral of the two, Jojo was an Academic All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention pick in 2015 who also brings the hammer.
McIntosh hasn’t started a game yet in his UW career, but that should change when the Huskies open with Rutgers this fall. He will have some competition - namely Ezekiel Turner, Trevor Walker and Brandon Beaver - but his partnership with Baker this spring cemented his spot. In short, the other safety position is his to lose.
McIntosh played in all 13 games in 2015, which gives him the perfect springboard for this upcoming season. He finished last year with 38 total tackles, tops on the defense for a non-starter. He’s been in the wars already, so being the man this fall won’t be a gigantic jump.
The reason why McIntosh holds a lot of value for Washington Secondary Coach Jimmy Lake is his connection with Baker. Budda is the one UW safety getting all the pre-season plaudits, including a lot of All-America mentions. Finding the right compliment to Baker is key to the defensive backs maximizing their potential, and we all know how dominant they can be when everybody is on the same page and moving as one.
If McIntosh can provide the same positional stability and production brought last year by Clay but add that extra physicality and athleticism that he’s shown in spurts during his sporadic play so far, he will be exactly what Lake ordered up: a ready-made partner for Budda that should become a three-year starter in his own right.
The future for Jojo starts this fall, and it’s a bright future indeed.