In retrospect, Washington fans won’t initially appreciate this defensive line class for three reasons. First, a raw talent like Ali Gaye probably won’t see the field for at least a year or two. Secondly, a talent like Jordan Lolohea won’t be seen for at least two years, barring a change from his intent to serve his LDS mission directly out of high school. But lastly, the sting of seeing Marlon Tuipulotu leave the fold after being committed to UW for a very long time and enroll at USC won’t go away any time soon.
But, when Gaye and Lolohea do get a chance to compete for a spot on the starting 11, I think UW fans will start to change their tune a little bit. Gaye is more Vita Vea than Greg Gaines or Elijah Qualls - a tall, imposing physical presence that should be a 6-7, 300-plus giant by the time he’s ready to see the field.
Lolohea was Utah’s leading sack-master in 2016, showing a great burst off the edge and a predatory instinct in tracking down ballcarriers. He has the same type of game that put Azeem Victor at MIK, so who knows. That might end up where Lolohea finds himself in 2019. But for the time being, UW fans can dream about a 6-2, 250-pound player in the mold of Joe Mathis terrorizing backfields down the road.
The Huskies’ biggest need at linebacker was outside, where they lost both their BUCK and SAM to graduation. So UW Linebackers Coach Bob Gregory addressed those needs directly, and with talent that should be able to contribute as early as 2018.
At BUCK they got Tryon, a former WSU commit who probably would have been offered earlier if more had been available. As it was, when the 6-4, 250-pound Tryon was eventually offered by the Huskies it didn’t take much convincing to get him in the boat. He can really run and play in space. He made big plays on both sides of the ball for Hazen.
On the other side at SAM, Ngata is a U.S. Army All-American who, after a year in the weight room, should be ready to handle the rigors of Pac-12 ball. He’s great as a rush specialist, but also athletic enough to hold the edge and play out in the flats when needed.
Washington Defensive Backs Coach Jimmy Lake hits a grand slam once again, filling like-for-like numbers directly with talent capable of competing right away for significant playing time.
McKinney isn’t a direct replacement for Budda Baker, but Lake sees him as another Taylor Rapp. There’s no problem with that. He’s already the same size as Rapp and comes with a strong high school pedigree.
Getting Molden into the fold was arguably one of the best recruiting jobs of the cycle for Washington. He was coveted by in-state school Oregon, where his Dad Alex played, as well as Stanford. Molden is a guy that can play corner, play slot, play wherever the Huskies need him. It would be great to give him a year to mature as Lake was able to do with Byron Murphy, Isaiah Gilchrist, and Kentrell Love. But don’t count him out when it comes to doing something this fall if he picks up things quickly enough.
And Keith Taylor appears to be the perfect Kevin King clone, a tall corner that uses his length effectively. But Taylor is already 190 pounds; King didn’t get that big until he was nearly done with his UW eligibility. And King started out at safety before moving to corner, while Taylor is set to begin his Husky career at corner.