Washington Recruiting: Linebackers

Losing players to graduation happens to every school, but the Huskies lose two starters at linebacker and the coaching staff has been working overtime trying to get some linebacker commitments for the 2007 class. They don't have any yet, but come the middle of December, they're likely to have at least two and possibly the four they covet the most.

The Huskies are in the market for several speedy, playmaking linebackers as they lose both Tahj Bomar and Scott White from the depth.

White, along with C.J. Wallace, was the most consistent player on a defense that played the pass better, but struggled at times against the run.

With the youth in the unit seeing a lot of time on special teams and during the season on defense, this unit, under the direction of Chris Tormey, should continue to be the heart of the defense.

LinebackersDan Howell (Sr.); Trenton Tuiasosopo (Jr.); Kyle Trew (Sr.); Chris Stevens (Jr.); E.J. Savannah (So.); Donald Butler (So.); Matt Houston (Fr.)
Commits – None
Targeted Prospects – Claremont OLB Howard Bowens (Ca.); The Hun School MLB Austin Sylvester (NJ); Crespi OLB D.J. Holt (Encino, Ca.); Kaiser OLB Chris Carter (Fontana, Ca.); St. Augustine MLB Bobby Erskine (San Diego); Crenshaw OLB Terrell Turner (Los Angeles)
Will take – One middle linebacker and probably three outside linebackers

Howell really stepped up this past year and will be one of the leaders at linebacker next year as a four-year senior. Howell's speed and intensity are an asset to the defense and he's very unselfish. Needs to make more plays with his athleticism, but since last year was his first year starting, the anticipation is that his instincts will only improve.

Stevens is the speed-guy in the linebacking corps. He has a knack for getting to the passer and he wreaks havoc in the five-yard box for offenses. He isn't big enough to be a full-time starter, so he'll continue to rotate with Savannah, but he always seems to make plays whenever he's on the field (ie. the blocked punt in the Apple Cup).

Savannah and Butler are both very athletic and fast and both hit like a ton of bricks. Savannah got tons of playing time as a redshirt freshman, mainly in the nickel defense, and Butler got a lot in the second half of the season. Expect both to be mainstays in the starting lineup for the rest of their careers at Washington.

Tuiasosopo and Trew add valuable depth and both have played to varying degrees during their time on campus. Tuiasosopo didn't have the biggest impact this past season, but he was only a year removed from a near-fatal bike accident. The staff anticipates he'll be better as a junior in 2007 and at the very least be a valuable backup at the MIK spot.

The coaching staff loves Houston's speed and athleticism and think he's the future at weakside linebacker (WIL). He'll be a demon on the coverage units next year and possibly see some time as the nickel linebacker in some sets.

Bowens was targeted early by the staff for his speed and playmaking abilities and there is a very good chance he could end up committing on his visit December 8th. He's likely to commit on his visit and the Huskies could see one other commitment that weekend because Sylvester loves Willingham and his parents want him on the west coast so they can come up to watch his games from their home in Nevada.

Holt is a player that a lot of schools are after and the Huskies have just begun to make some headway with him. He's a playmaker from the outside and he could even end up moving to defensive end at the next level.

Erskine liked UW enough to visit in early August unofficially and almost pulled the trigger when he was in Seattle, but he decided to wait and now he's been thinking more and more about committing to the Dawgs. Erskine could play inside or outside depending on how the team wants to use him.

Turner is the big unknown right now. The Huskies have been after him for a while and Turner is a big-time playmaker. He too might be able to get big enough to play defensive end, but he'd be an ideal strongside (SAM) linebacker in college. He likes to cover backs and the tight end and he has a knack for blitzing as well.

Next up is the secondary and the special teams players the Huskies are recruiting.

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