USA Today Sports

Who are the ‘next men up’?

There are 10 Washington Huskies that have made a big impact on the success of the 2016 team, but now their time on Montlake has ended. So who steps into their sizable shoes?

GONE: Jake Eldrenkamp

NEXT MAN UP: Luke Wattenberg

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Washington fans have been wondering what Wattenberg’s been up to during his redshirt year, but all signs are pointing to him having a chance to work immediately into a competition for a starting guard spot. We all saw how Nick Harris was able to come on his true freshman season, and Wattenberg played for the same high school program. Wattenberg was the one that came in with the fanfare, and redshirting him was a big bonus for UW OL Coach Chris Strausser. Currently listed at 260 pounds, expect him to be a lot closer to 280 or so heading into spring ball. 

GONE: John Ross III

NEXT MAN UP: Chico McClatcher

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Chico has the speed element to stretch defenses, as well as the quicks to give Washington a ready-made replacement for Ross. Obviously the year that Ross had in 2016 is one that will be incredibly tough to replicate, but McClatcher finished the year with nearly 600 receiving yards and already has a knack for knowing how to get open and get yards after the catch. 

GONE: Darrell Daniels

NEXT MAN UP: Drew Sample

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The tight end position at Washington has turned into one where blocking has taken over as their primary responsibility, and catching the football a distant second. That might start to change the more comfortable Jake Browning becomes in the offense and the more he has to rely on different targets now that John Ross and Darrell Daniels are gone. Drew Sample is the next tight end in line that can do it all - block and catch. Now he just has to become a regular target of Browning to fulfill his potential.  

GONE: Elijah Qualls

NEXT MAN UP: Ricky McCoy

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With Qualls leaving, that leaves an opening in the ‘Big Three’ with Vita Vea and Greg Gaines. Size-wise, McCoy resembles Qualls more than anyone else in terms of playing inside or outside, and going into his third season in 2017 has enough time in the system to take that next step up in his development. 

GONE: Joe Mathis 

NEXT MAN UP: Benning Potoa'e 

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The Huskies lost a lot when Mathis went down, arguably more than when Azeem Victor was injured. They lost their main rush threat, and while UW was still able to generate some rush they just weren’t the same at all without Jojo. That’s why Benning has to be the next BUCK up. He’s got the size, physical ability, attitude and motor the Huskies need at that position. 

GONE: Psalm Wooching

NEXT MAN UP: Amandre Williams

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Before getting hurt, Amandre Williams was a player Chris Petersen called out by name in the fall as a true freshman that might not redshirt. Now that he’s back to 100 percent, Williams should challenge Tevis Bartlett for a lot of playing time. He’s exactly the kind of athlete that can cause problems up by the line of scrimmage, as well as play in the flats. 

GONE: Budda Baker

NEXT MAN UP: Taylor Rapp

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Is there any doubt? Sure, guys like Trevor Walker and Zeke Turner will play, but after the year Rapp had as a true frosh, including taking Pac-12 Championship game MVP honors, he’s the next man up by a country mile. 

GONE: Sidney Jones

NEXT MAN UP: Byron Murphy

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Entering the 2016 season, as loaded as the ‘Death Row’ secondary was, it was just assumed Murphy would find a way to make an impact - even if just as a special teams demon. He’s that talented. So spring ball will be fun to see how much he’s learned during his redshirt year and where he fits in. 

GONE: Kevin King

NEXT MAN UP: Jordan Miller

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Washington relied more and more on King and Jones as the season went along, not handing out much playing time to players like Miller, Austin Joyner, Brandon Lewis and Myles Bryant. But Miller has always been on the verge of being the next guy in line, and 2017 will be his year to shine. 

GONE: Cameron Van Winkle

NEXT MAN UP: Tristan Vizcaino

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Simply put, now that Van Winkle has graduated as one of the most prolific kickers to have played at Washington, it’s time for the next specialist to step up. That will be Vizcaino, who did very well punting the ball for the Huskies, but came to UW primarily as a kicker. New JC man Joel Whitford will battle redshirt frosh Van Soderberg for the punting chores.

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