Kim Grinolds - Danny Shelton. It all starts up front. When you get a guy like Shelton who commands a double team and still makes a push, it opens everything up. Shirley and Hudson off the edge, the secondary ball hawking, and turnover ensue. Danny was a force all Spring.
Scott Eklund - Danny Shelton. When Shelton was on, and that was a lot this spring, he caused a lot of problems for the offense. Sarkisian mentioned several times they actually had to remove him from the equation so the offense could get some things done. He needs to work on his temper, but there's no denying that he will be a key reason why Washington's defense should improve this year.
Chris Fetters - Desmond Trufant. The biggest thing that showed up this spring was the ability of the secondary to lock down receivers over the course of camp, and that started with the senior from Tacoma. New Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox played safety in college, and when implementing his schematic and culture change on that side of the ball he needed to have the leaders of the defense fall right in line to set the tempo and lead by example. Trufant was right at the head of that line and did everything you'd expect a senior leader to do, and it showed up in tighter coverage throughout the four weeks of practice.
Defensive Most Improved
Kim Grinolds - Sean Parker. You saw it at the end of last year. The light has gone on and he'll compete for all conference honors this year
Scott Eklund - Greg Ducre. This is a tough one because there were so many players on the defensive side of the ball who looked great, however, Ducre appeared to have the biggest jump, both in confidence and play, this spring. Ducre has really taken to the new scheme and the coaching of Keith Heyward and showed flashes of brilliance this spring.
Chris Fetters - Danny Shelton/Andrew Hudson. Last year Shelton and Hudson showed glimpses of being solid compliment to Alameda Ta'amu and Josh Shirley, playing in all the games and earning starts by the end of the year. But this spring both players seemed possessed to take over, and did so on a regular basis. The most important thing was that they also did all this while staying health all spring, which means they are poised to make significant impacts along the defensive line. They are role players no longer.
Most Likely to Step Up - Defense
Kim Grinolds - Justin Glenn. If you think for one minute the fifth year Senior is just going to roll over and let the top HS safety in the country come in and take his spot......you better think again. he's as healthy as he's ever been and had an outstanding Spring.
Scott Eklund - John Timu. Timu had a great spring and really took to playing inside in Washington's Hybrid 3-4 scheme. Timu took a lot of lumps from fans and pundits alike for some of his struggles, but he was only a true freshman so I believe the expectations thrown on him were unfair. Watch for Timu to have a big season this fall.
Chris Fetters - John Timu/Princeton Fuimaono. The duo of Timu and Fuimaono had to grow up in a hurry last year as freshmen starters, and that experience should pay off for the linebacker corps this fall. They were able to stay healthy all spring, and as a result were stalwarts with the number-one linebackers. It's clear the two play off each other well and have the backing of Wilcox and new LB Coach Peter Sirmon.
Most Likely to Struggle - Defense
Kim Grinolds - Nate Fellner. There's a great opportunity at LB, but learning a new position can take time. I wouldn't be surprised if he struggles early.
Scott Eklund - Marcus Peters. This was a tough one because, like Dexter Charles, I believe that Peters has a very bright future. However, since he's never played a down of college football, don't be surprised if there is a learning-curve for him.
Chris Fetters - Marcus Peters. Honestly, this pick is based more on position and lack of experience than anything. Peters, based on his spring battles with Kasen Williams and James Johnson, is well on his way toward earning his stripes. He is all set to take the mantle from Trufant next year and be the Huskies' lock-down defender with Greg Ducre. But this year he'll be asked to play a lot, and he will struggle. It's certainly possible Peters could have a frosh year like Tru did, but the reality is that he'll need some time to catch up to the speed and the vagaries of the Pac-12 game. By 2013 Peters will be a fixture in Washington's defense and capable of all-Pac-12 honors.
Post-Spring Awards - Offense