Washington Recruiting: Defensive line

The second-season for the Dawgs begins next weekend as they will play host the first three weekends of December to some very talented defensive prospects. This year they lose only two contributors along the defensive line, but they need to restock the shelves as they have at least five player who will finish their eligibility next fall.

Donny Mateaki and Brandon Ala are the two players that the Huskies lose along the defensive line. Both provided depth to the unit, but neither lived up to the tremendous hype they generated as high school seniors.

The Huskies also graduate several key components next year, so they need to restock the cupboard with talented playmakers if they want to keep the unit as a strength instead of a liability.

Defensive EndGreyson Gunheim (Sr.); Ceasar Rayford (Sr.); Anthony Atkins (Jr.); Darrion Jones (So.); Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (So.); D'Shon Matthews (Fr.)
Commits – None
Targeted Prospects – Kamehameha DE Kalani Aldrich (Hi.); St. Louis DE Scott Smith (Honolulu, Hi.); Las Vegas DE Billy Winn (Nv.); Vancouver College Prep TE Trey Henderson (Vancouver, B.C.); Pasco DE Hank Vincent (Wa.); Central DE Justin Cuellar (Independence, Or.); Edmonds-Woodway DE Casey Hamlett (Wa.)
Will take – At least two, possibly three if they find one they really like

Gunheim led the team with six sacks and 14 tackles for loss. He seemed to always be close, but was never able to get to the quarterback on a consistent basis. He has good speed and has developed his upper-body well. He needs to do a better job of getting the edge on an offensive lineman, but he never seems to stop and he's a good athlete.

Te'o-Nesheim is a player the coaches raved about heading into camp and, at the beginning of the season, he seemed to really come on. He seemed to tail off toward the end of the season, but with the experience he gained, he could be a good one in coming years. He's got a non-stop motor and he's tough. He needs to learn a few more moves when rushing the passer, but he's off to a good start.

Atkins played linebacker at the JC level and came in too heavy (not out of shape) for his new role as a rush end. He's slimmed back down to 265 and should provide good depth at both the Husky and REB positions.

Jones registered 11 sacks his senior season of high school before coming to Washington as a middle linebacker. After a redshirt season, Jones is now ready to push for time in pass-rushing situations. A big spring camp could put him in the two-deeps.

Rayford had the sack to end the 2006 Apple Cup with a flourish and he's got excellent speed and athleticism. His problem is that he isn't very strong and he cannot add weight. He will likely end up being a situational pass-rusher for the Dawgs during his senior campaign.

As far as young players are concerned, Matthews was it at defensive end last year. He's got a good frame and head coach Tyrone Willingham liked his attitude and desire. Players said he turned it up a notch toward the end of the season, so the hope is he can come on strong during spring camp and provide solid backup and competition to T'eo Nesheim.

The Huskies are in hot pursuit of Winn. Teams love Winn's size and strength combo and he's being courted by several schools including Arizona State, Oregon, Texas Tech, Washington and Washington State. He's expected to visit in during December and he could end up committing on his visit.

Aldrich is a freakish athlete that had scouts drooling over his potential at a combine on the Islands during the spring. Aldrich has good size and decent speed, but more importantly, he's very strong. He's being courted by some big-time programs in Oregon, Oklahoma and Colorado as well as Washington. He'll be a tough one to get, but the best ones usually are.

Cuellar has quietly been on several Pac 10 teams' radars this year and, while he plays linebacker, he's projected to eventually end up at defensive end with his size (6-6, 235). Cuellar also runs very well – 4.6-speed in the forty – and has great football instincts. Oregon State, Oregon and Washington are the biggest names recruiting him, but Arizona, Arizona State and Cal have gotten into the mix as well.

Henderson could end up at tight end or offensive line, but most think he will be an ideal strongside defensive end at the next level. During the summer, Henderson and his father visited Husky football practice and he spent a lot of time talking to defensive line coach Randy Hart. If he gets and offer from the Huskies, he'll probably commit pretty quickly.

Vincent was the best pass-rusher in the state this year, but an injured knee sidelined him for the season. He loves the Huskies and, because of his injury, he may need to walk-on to get a shot at playing anywhere. Should he not get an offer from a school he wants to go to, Vincent has the grades to get into Washington and he could walk-on with the Huskies with a chance at earning some playing time or even a scholarship.

Defensive TackleWilson Afoa (Sr.); Jordan Reffett (Sr.); Erik Lobos (Sr.); Jovan O'Connor (Jr.); Derek Kosub (Fr.); Cameron Elisara (Fr.)
Commits – None
Targeted Prospects – Junipero Serra DT Da'Jon Harris (Gardena, Ca.); Campbell DT Matthew Masifilo (Ewa Beach, Hi.); Poway DT Nick Wood (Ca.); Kamehameha DT Joshua Manupuna (Honolulu, Hi.); Westlake DT Tyrone Duncan (Ca.)
Will take – Likely three, but could take four or move a defensive end that commits inside

Reffett was the surprise of the fall for the Husky defense. Before the 2006 seaosn, he spent the majority of his time trying to find a home on either side of the ball. He spent an entire year at offensive tackle, but moved back to defensive tackle and found his way into the rotation with a solid spring camp. He's a solid run-stuffer and was a leading voice in keeping the defense together during their six-game losing streak.

Afoa is an unspectacular player, but he's got good size and quickness. Like the rest of his line mates, what he lacks in overall talent, he makes up for with grit and determination.

Lobos showed tremendous promise as a player during his true freshman season in 2004, but he's never been able to stay healthy since. When he is healthy, Lobos is quick and has good strength. Hopefully, the Huskies can get him to play at 100-percent next fall.

Kosub and Elisara were solid contributors as freshman to the scout teams and Elisara won the defensive scout squad player of the year award. Elisara is an excellent pass-rusher from his interior position and, from the sounds of it, Kosub is solid against the run.

Harris and Masifilio are the big fish on Washington's radar right now, but the chances of them committing to Washington are very slim. Harris is likely headed to USC, while Masifilio seems to be infatuated with Oregon.

Wood and Duncan are the top players who have Washington high on their list. Duncan is a solid pass-rusher and Wood is a super-strong player who can rush the passer or stuff the run. Wood visited during the Stanford debacle, but word from him is that Washington and Boston College are his two favorites.

Duncan doesn't have an offer right now, but he's looking to take a trip to Washington and hopes to get an offer on his visit.

Manupuna is a player the Huskies could offer late in the process and will likely visit in January. At 6-1, 261 pounds, he will need a year or two to bulk up before he can contribute on a regular basis.

Next up will be the linebackers and then we'll finish the weekend off with the secondary and the punters and kickers.

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