Position Breakdown: Receivers and Tight Ends

In the third installment of our series on the future of the Washington Football program, we take a look at the receivers and tight ends who will be counted on this coming fall to be playmakers in the Husky offense.

Wide Receivers
Returning: D'Andre Goodwin (Rs. So.); Curtis Shaw (So.); Alvin Logan (Rs. Fr.); Charles Hawkins (Rs. Sr.)*; Tony Chidiac (Rs. So.)*
Enrolling January 2008: Anthony Boyles; Devin Aguilar
2008 Recruiting Class: Cody Bruns; Jordan Polk; Jermaine Kearse
Still left on the board: Charles Germany-Satchell; Tommy Streeter; A.J. Pickens
* denotes walk-on

The recruiting class with seven receivers in it has finally graduated and, like many expected, the Huskies are very young and inexperienced heading into the 2008 season because of it. However, young and inexperienced doesn't mean "not talented" and the Husky coaching staff has done a good job of acquiring some very solid prospects to add to the mix.

Goodwin and Shaw are the only returning players with experience and both saw very limited action in 2007.

Goodwin is the fastest Husky, clocking a 4.36 during offseason workouts, but he looked slower on the field. Does that mean he's thinking too much? The answer to that is – probably. Watching him during practice and in games, he struggled getting off the line so he needs to add strength, but his quickness and speed are his biggest assets and it will behoove offensive coordinator Tim Lappano to put Goodwin in position to be successful.

The conversion of Shaw to wideout was a no-brainer when Brandon Johnson emerged as the backup to Louis Rankin. The team simply had to get Shaw's speed and athleticism on the field and he proved to be a nice target in the games that he saw action. Now the task of becoming a complete receiver falls to the sophomore from Stockton, California. He needs to run crisper routes, work on catching the ball at its highest point and how to read coverages.

Shaw has all the natural athleticism to be a very successful receiver, but it depends on how he progresses over the next eight months to see how much he can add to the 2008 Washington offensive attack.

When Logan arrived on campus, many thought he would be a great safety prospect and that may be where he ultimately ends up, but he's the biggest receiver the Huskies have on their roster and he could end up being a nice redzone target down the road. He's a smooth runner and his size and strength allow him to go up and battle for the ball and win most battles with opposing defensive backs.

He's also a physical blocker, something that wide receivers coach Charlie Baggett loves.

Chidiac and Hawkins are intriguing prospects as walk-ons. Both play bigger than their size and both are good athletes.

Chidiac is a natural possession receiver, while Hawkins has better speed and is smooth in and out of his cuts. Will either one see the field next fall? It's the best chance they have of earning time considering the youth of the unit.

When both Boyles and Aguilar didn't qualify last fall, fans thought both would end up heading to other schools eventually, but both worked hard and received qualifying scores on the ACT this past September and both have enrolled and will be on campus January 7th.

Aguilar is the more polished receiver and he's an outstanding athlete, while Boyles is the big-play wideout the Huskies have been longing for with and he brings a big-play attitude to match his skills.

Polk, Bruns and Kearse are all from the northwest and all three know the traditions of the Washington program.

Bruns is an outstanding route-runner who possesses great hands and the knack for getting open against any coverage. He needs to get stronger, but he will be a valuable player for the Dawgs in the fall and will likely end up being a solid contributor from the moment he arrives on campus.

Because of his size, Bruns may struggle getting off the line early on, but there's no doubt that he's the sure-handed receiver the Huskies have been missing the past few seasons.

Kearse was one of the top two in-state "must-gets" for head coach Tyrone Willingham this year.

He's a big-time athlete with an outstanding size/speed ratio. He runs well with the ball in his hands, has outstanding athleticism and he's got great football instincts. Where he'll run into problems is in his route-running and getting separation early on. However, Kearse has all the skills and intangibles necessary to be All-Pac 10 before he leaves.

Polk is a bit of a mystery as a player. He played against some of the top football competition in the state of Oregon the past four years and he excelled, putting up big numbers his junior and senior years. However, his smallish frame would seem to preclude him from stepping right in at receiver and being successful at the Pac 10 level.

That being said, Polk's quickness and open-field running ability make him an intriguing prospect who will earn his stripes early as a return man. How he handles the rigors of camp will determine whether or not he plays right away or if he redshirts.

Tight Ends
Returning: Michael Gottlieb (Rs. Sr.); Johnie Kirton (Rs. Sr.); Walter Winter (Rs. Sr.); Chris Izbicki (Rs. Fr.); Romeo Savant (Rs. Fr.)*
2008 Recruiting Class: Kavario Middleton
Still left on the board: Demetrius Guice

The Huskies have had lots of bodies at tight end the past few seasons, but very little in the way of production.

The move of Kirton seemed to be a no-brainer heading into the 2005 season, but he just hasn't progressed to the point where he can be counted on in the pinch. There have been some rumors floating around that Kirton may end up heading to the defensive line during the spring and if that happens, that will open up time for players like Izbicki as well as Middleton.

Gottlieb is the most complete of the tight ends that saw action last year. He came to Washington as a walk-on and so impressed the coaches that he earned a scholarship and he's been a productive player for them. However, he's not much of a threat in the passing game, making most of his impact as a blocker in the running game.

Enter Izbicki, who will get every chance during spring and fall camp to show what he can do.

When he arrived on campus, Izbicki showed up needing to add about 10 more pounds of muscle as well as to work on running better routes. He looked good in limited opportunities with the team and he should immediately help in the running game as a blocker as well.

Winter is a player that has never truly found a home, starting out at linebacker his first year with the program, then heading to tight end, then to defensive end and finally ending up back at tight end last year. Now in his senior year, Winter is a solid contributor on special teams as well as a valuable backup. It's doubtful he will ever see much time other than as a substitute.

Savant is a big-body who could eventually grow into a line position, either offensive or defensive, depending on how much muscle he puts on his frame during the offseason.

The coaches love his size and tenacity and they say he was a real steal for them to get him to walk-on.

Middleton was the top player in the state and has been rated the number two tight end in the country for the 2008 class. He was a "must get" for Willingham and he will come in and challenge for time right away.

Where Middleton will struggle is in the running game as a blocker. In the Lakes offense, 90-percent of the time he was split out wide and rarely played on the end of the line as a true tight end. He's got all the tools necessary to be an All-American tight end, but he's got work to do to realize that potential.

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