Youth still being served

Keith Price (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)

It gets frustrating when each year it seems as if the same refrain is heard over and over. "Boy is this team young. Just wait until these guys get older, they'll really be talented." And over and over.

The main culprits to the ongoing youth movements that never get put to rest are poor recruiting and bad luck. If you don't recruit with balance, you open yourself to not having upperclassmen in key positions. If you don't recruit kids that can stay in school, you have a similar predicament brewing. If you recruit kids that cannot stay healthy, that's difficult to project to say the least, but it puts even more importance to having depth throughout the roster at every position.

A look at the two-deep depth chart for the Huskies for 2011 illustrates this. This is coach Steve Sarkisian's third year at the helm, and although he has undoubtedly fixed several areas, he still has some work to do and he will need to rely on a lot of youth to play key snaps during football games this fall. The speed and talent levels are markedly improved, but the numbers still need some bolstering.

QB: RS-Soph Keith Price, RS-Freshman Nick Montana, FR Derrick Brown.

This is an area where you should have either a junior or senior every year. Sarkisian didn't inherit a very well-stocked cupboard here in terms of spacing behind Jake Locker. He is addressing that with the additions of Cyler Miles and Jeff Lindquist next year, to go with a junior (Price), a Sophomore (Montana), and hopefully a redshirt freshman (Brown). So they are one year away from a very good situation and two years away from perfection. Brown is a very impressive specimen, he stands out when the quarterbacks take their reps.

RB: Jr Chris Polk, So Jesse Callier, Sr. Johri Fogerson, Fr Bishop Sankey, Fr Dezden Petty.

This is good spacing, and a nice assembly of talent. Sankey has impressed to the point of being a pleasant surprise, and Callier looks ready to assume the mantle after Polk departs for the NFL and Fogerson graduates after this season. Petty can play either tailback or fullback.

FB: Jr Jonathan Amosa, Fr Travon Brooks, Fr Nick Holt.

The depth here is full of walk-ons, as Petty is the only real back that was recruited for this position. Washington doesn't really recruit this position all that hard though, and often pair it with the linebackers and tight ends in terms of position recruiting.

TE: Fr Austin Seferian-Jenkins, RS-Freshman Michael Hartvigson, RS-Freshman Evan Hudson.

The talent has been upgraded considerably by Sark's recruiting, but the depth is all underclassmen. You'd like to avoid that in the future and Washington may be two years away from rectifying the lack of upperclassmen.

WR: Sr Jermaine Kearse, Sr Devin Aguilar, Sr. Cody Bruns, Jr James Johnson, So Kevin Smith, Fr Kasen Williams, RS-Fr. DiAndre Campbell.

This is decent spacing. The upperclassmen are productive and the youth behind them is very talented and fast. This is a position that is in great shape for years to come, as Williams and Campbell both look ready for big things early in their careers.

OT: Sr Senio Kelemete, So. Erik Kohler, RS-Freshman Ben Riva, RS-Freshman Micah Hatchie.

You would like to see some upperclassmen in the ranks here, but recruiting mistakes cost the Huskies dearly in terms of class spacing. The younger players are more than talented but they are still lacking experience. Two more years will yield some upperclassmen to the point where the numbers won't look so crooked. The line will be something else by then if all of the talent remains in the program.

OG: Soph Colin Porter, RS-Freshman Colin Tanigawa, Sr Nick Wood, Sr Skyler Fancher, RS-Freshman James Atoe.

Again, the lack of juniors and seniors is never what you want to see at positions as crucial as the offensive line. Porter and Tanigawa, by all accords, are going to be outstanding and that may happen sooner rather than later, but they still will be going against men older and more experienced than they are.

Center: Jr Drew Schaefer, RS-Freshman Mike Criste

The Huskies are in good shape here. Schaefer is an experienced junior and is good at making the line calls for his younger teammates in the trenches. Colin Porter works some here as well but Criste appears to be the one they are grooming for the spot in the next couple of years. He's an impressive specimen.

DT: Sr Alameda Ta'amu, Sr Everrette Thompson, Soph Sione Potoa'e, Fr Danny Shelton, RS-freshman Lawrence Lagafuaina.

The depth situation here is outstanding in terms of numbers, albeit a little on the young side. However the class spacing is a little deceiving by just listing those in the twos. Junior Semisi Tokolahi would be right there if it weren't for a leg injury that he is still recovering from. And Shelton is not your normal freshman. It would've been ideal to get him a redshirt year but he's too good to sit. Fellow freshman Taniela Tupou is a good candidate to redshirt though, and he's talented and will make a terrific pairing next to Shelton on the inside.

DE: Jr Talia Crichton, Soph Hauoli Jamora, RS-Freshman Andrew Hudson, Freshman Jarett Finau.

This position is a bit young, unless you move Thompson outside. You would like to see some upperclassmen on the edges, guys that are experienced in hand fighting and scraping off of offensive tackles blocks. Typically a defensive end will face players that are 50 pounds heavier than they are, so the extra experience comes in handy if you have it. Washington has some experience, as Crichton and Jamora have both started and played significant minutes, but the depth behind them is very green. On passing downs the Huskies will utilize RS-freshman Josh Shirley. He's not big but very powerful and quick, and very tough to block off the edge.

LB: Sr Cort Dennison, Fr John Timu, So Princeton Fuimaono, So Garret Gilliland, RS-Freshman Jamaal Kearse, RS-Freshman Cooper Pelluer, So Thomas Tutogi.

There is far too much youth in the two-deeps at linebacker, and this may very well be what defines whether the defense is successful or not in 2011. How quickly these young players gel may be the key to the entire season. Dennison is rock solid, as you'd expect a senior to be. However recruiting mistakes have cost the Huskies dearly in the depth department here, as there are no juniors or seniors besides Dennison in the ranks. Jordan Wallace is a junior but he is currently injured and was not able to keep Timu or Fuimaono from climbing the depth chart ahead of him. The talent and speed are there, but these guys are realistically about two years from rounding into outstanding linebackers who are solid and won't make youthful mistakes. One bad angle by a young outside linebacker turns a five yard gain into a 70-yard touchdown if the conditions are right. Those are the types of mistakes freshman make, and learn from so they no longer make them when they are juniors.

Husky fans will need to be patient with this group. They are super skilled and talent, but will need to suffer through growing pains.

Safety: Jr Nathan Fellner, Soph Sean Parker, Jr Justin Glenn, Soph Taz Stevenson.

The numbers here are very good and the class spacing is pretty good. Not having a senior safety would normally hurt some, but Fellner is now a solid starter and is able to keep the secondary in the right places. Parker has some experience now and the ball skills to go with it. Glenn is finally healthy again and ready to make another run at a starter spot. The two freshman safeties are the ones to watch, and it would be nice if they could somehow redshirt James Sample and Travis Feeney, those two are going to be absolute monsters if they aren't exposed too early in their careers. Both already look like Pac-12 players physically. Feeney is 6-4 and imposing while Sample reminds me of a young Tim Peoples.

CB: Sr Quinton Richardson, Jr Desmond Trufant, Soph Greg Ducre, Jr Anthony Gobern.

This is the type of spacing you'd like to see in your secondary. A senior and two juniors, albeit Gobern may have a difficult time keeping freshman Marcus Peters out of the two-deeps. It's a solid set of talent with good size, and upper classmen leading the way.


Synopsis: Washington is probably one to two years away from having too many underclassmen in the two-deeps, but the skill and speed on the roster is markedly improved from two years ago, and even from last year. The receivers and defensive backs are bigger and quicker, and the linemen move much better than before. Now those kids need to become junior and senior leaders. That is when special things happen.

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