That was the order of business after another sub-par defensive campaign for the Husky football team last season, and less than a week into the 2004 fall camp it is looking like the Dawgs might have struck gold... not just once or twice, but four times.
The lineup of potential impact newcomers on the defensive front
includes: Jordan White-Frisbee, a 6-foot-7 monster of a man out of
Inglemoor High who pushes the scales at over 300 pounds; Greyson Gunheim, a 6-6, 240-pound physical specimen who only turned 18 in
April but has the body of an upperclassman; Erick Lobos, a stout 6-3,
280-pound defensive tackle with a strong bottom half; and Caesar Rayford, a muscular 6-7 multi-sport athlete in great shape who only
needs to add weight and strength to his 220-pound frame.
Already, each have made a big enough impression on the practice fields
at Husky Stadium and The Evergreen State College to open the eyes of
those that have seen them play. Hart, who hasn't exactly had his
cupboard stocked with strong, physical players in recent years, said
all four of them have a chance to play at some point this fall.
"I'm happy with all those freshmen," said Hart, who is entering his
17th season coaching the defensive line at Washington. "They are
exciting young players. They run around and they are very well
advanced strength wise and weight wise."
That strength will be a key factor in determining whether they will play.
"You can't put them out there (once the season starts) and get them
hurt," continued Hart. "They've got to be strong enough when you put
them out there as freshman. If they are strong enough then you go to
step two - are they smart enough? If they are strong enough and smart
enough then you can play them."
With that little carrot of playing time dangling out in front of this
new crop of rabid Dawgs, each of them has sincere hopes of playing as
a freshman. And each feels they're on the right path to getting
"I think I'm fitting in pretty well. I'm not where I'm supposed to be
just yet, but I'm learning the defense," said Lobos, a native of Los
Angeles. "This is Washington, and we are going to work. We are going
to keep working harder. We've got to bring it up a level. If I do
what I'm supposed to do, and I pick it up a little faster, I think I
could play come fall."
White-Frisbee, one of the talks of training camp thus far with a huge
frame that clogs up the middle, says being a freshman thrust into the
rotation isn't easy. He admits feeling a bit over his head during the
first few days of camp, but feels the transition is coming along
What's been the key for the 18-year-old from Kenmore, Wash.?
"You've just got to come out here and prove to the rest of the team
that you are able to play at the same level they are, and even if you
can't then you've got to show that you want it just as bad as they
do," he said. "They've paid their dues, and so you've got to pay
"You can only do the best you can. I'm starting to (feel like I
belong). Once you get down to realizing the way each position is
supposed to go, it's easier."
For Rayford, a product of Bethel High in Graham, Wash., the move up to
the college ranks will undoubtedly mean dedicating plenty of future
hours in the weight room. At his current weight, he's one of the most
athletic and physically gifted players on the defense, but he's also a
good 20-25 pounds underweight.
"They want me to get up to around 245-250," he said. "I'm working out
with Steve (Emtman) and Pete (Kaligis) to get stronger. They are
about to be my best friends."
Rayford says he has found that he's a person who is able to gain
weight pretty quickly. In fact, he's already put on 15 pounds since
leaving high school. The rangy end feels the coaching of Hart and the
added weight will help him considerably as the season progresses.
"First I have to put the weight on and get a little stronger," said
Rayford. "I just need to keep working hard. I've got the technique,
the quickness and the speed. I just need to put the weight on."
As for being coached by Hart, Rayford says that was one of the main
reasons he came to Washington.
"I wanted to go to the place I was going to fit at," said the
freshman. "Washington was that best fit, for both academics and
football. It had everything I wanted. They had a good coach in
Randy Hart, who I had heard so much about. Academics wise they had
one of the best business schools. All that stuff made it the right
fit for me."
Those factors especially came into play in the fall when Aaron Klovas,
the top offensive lineman in the state and a teammate of Rayford at
Bethel, committed to go to Oregon. Despite Klovas' best efforts to
draw him to Eugene, Rayford chose to stay home.
"I'm glad to be a Dawg," he said, tugging at the No. 85 on his jersey.
Gunheim, meanwhile, nearly wasn't a Dawg. In fact, he waited until
the final weeks before signing day to verbally commit to Washington
after first taking recruiting trips to Nebraska, California and
Oregon. A bulldozer-like running back at Analy High in Santa Rosa,
Calif. as a senior, he doubled as a monster defensive end. The
Huskies recruited him as a defensive end, but couldn't get the
multi-tooled athlete to commit until some luck bounced their way.
"It was down to Nebraska and here, and then I thought about it," said
Gunheim, who at 240 pounds already looks like a player who several
other Husky defenders in recent years spent countless hours in the
weight room trying to become. "Nebraska lost their coach at the last
second and so I just felt like I'd be a better fit here."
The Cornhuskers' loss is - to steal a line from former Husky DT Larry
Triplett - "most definitely" the Huskies' gain. Gunheim not only
instantly has the best name on the team, but he could very well be the
strongest of the four freshman d-linemen.
Trying not to look too far into the future, he says his focus is on
simply controlling the factors that he can control and leaving the
rest up to the coaching staff.
"It's still tough (learning the playbook)," said Gunheim. "I'm
starting to get it in my head now. All I have to do now is just try
my best and play."
As for getting on the field this fall as a first-year player? Only
time will tell. But the Gunheim knows it isn't going to be handed to
"It's tough because you've got to step up, but you've just got to do
it," he said.
Rayford echoed those sentiments, adding that the degree of closeness
the foursome builds over the coming years will be a determining factor
in the level of success they achieve.
"The competition between us is pretty high," he said, acknowledging
that each of them wants to be the first to get playing time in a
regular season game. "It's real tense and it's real competitive. We
talk and try to get together because we are probably going to be the
With these four in place - Lobos, White-Frisbee, Rayford and Gunheim -
one thing is certain: the future of the defensive line appears
brighter than the past.
Foursome Playing Through
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