The Huskies return three senior safeties with starting experience. Jason Wells, Mesphin Forrester, and Darin Harris. Wells is the best of the bunch but is returning from a nasty knee injury and will be out this Spring. He should be ready to go this Fall, but reconstructed knee's have a way of being troublesome. Mesphin Forrester had his moments, and has some pretty good hands, but he was burned continuously in 2007. Harris who returned from nasty back injury had a solid season, but isn't exactly the type of guy you win with in the Pac Ten, same can be said for Forrester. Both are good role players, but Washington needs a talent infusion at this position to emerge in 2008.
Nate Williams, Victor Aieywa, and Quentin Richardson is where the future of improvement lies at the Safety position. Williams received the most playing time last year, Aieywa got his feet wet on special teams, and Richardson preserved a year of eligibility by redshirting. UW also brought in three frosh who have a chance to play right away, Johri Fogerson, Vince Taylor, and Greg Walker. Expect at least one of those guys to play right away next year depending on how they move players around.
On one hand you start off with three safeties with starting experience. On the other hand they were part of one of the worst Husky defenses in history.
I have liked Jason ever since he set foot on the field as transfer two years ago. The performance of the defense dropped a couple of notches when he was hurt last year. What Jason brings to the position is toughness, and a great attitude. He is a favorite of the coaches, and will be one of the leaders of the defense in 2008. Wells is a hard hitter, and played his best when teamed up with CJ Wallace in 2006. Wells is a shoe in to start if he is healthy this season. He will miss the Spring, but should be full speed sometime this summer.
Mesphin has played a lot since he has been here, but he is really a cornerback in a safeties body. He isn't fast enough for corner, and he isn't as physical as you like at Safety. He does have good hands, and has been the best Husky defender at garnering interceptions. I like him more as a solid role player than a starter. Wells covered up a lot of his inadequacies, and when he went down, the Husky defense started it's descent.
Harris is a feel good story because he came back from a potential career ending back injury. He had a good year after Wells went down, but he wasn't able to cover for Forrester like Wells had done earlier in the season. Like Forrester I think he is better suited as a reserve role player even though he was solid last season. I would rate him higher than Mesphin based on his play last season.
Physically these guys are a step above the guys that are ahead of them. The question is after a year in the program can they push for starting jobs against three seniors?
If Washington is going to improve at the Safety position in 2008 this guy has to be able to beat out Forrester, and Harris for the starting Safety spot next to Jason Wells. We all know what those two guys can do, and they aren't going to get that much better. The key to improvement is Williams asserting himself and taking over the job. I thought Nate played well in nickel and dime situations last year. He picked up a lot of experience, and that should give him a big boost in 2008. One thing that will help Nate, and the other young challengers is a full year in the program getting stronger, faster, and smarter. When you know what you are doing you can let your instincts, and athletic ability take over. the game should slow down for Nate in 2008, and I look for him to be a starter.
Victor should have redshirted last year, but the lack of depth forced Washington to play him early. He spent most of his time getting used to the speed of the game on special teams. Aieywa is an impressive athlete who doesn't have a lot of HS experience behind him. He does however have the ability to stick people. Vic has been a quick study and the Husky coaches are excited about him. He has really good size/numbers, and we should see a lot of growth this Spring from this kid. He could always grow out of the position and move to LB depending on how the Huskies line up, but I think he sticks at Safety.
The coaching staff was pleased to find out that Richardson was a lot faster than they thought he would be coming in. Most thought he would start off at safety then gravitate to linebacker, but what was even more surprising was how fast he was going backwards. That reverse speed will earn him a shot at both Safety, and Cornerback this Spring. Richardson is a big physical kid that can really lay some lumber. I expect a lot of people to be talking about him this Spring no matter which position he lines up at. This is a kid that is ready to challenge for playing time at either S, CB, or LB.
I really like this part of the recruiting class. You have three really talented kids that can play multiple positions. At least one of the class will play right away, maybe more depending if players above them switch positions.
I like this kid, I really do, and even though Willingham says he is going to start off at Tailback I think he makes the move to Safety as quickly in camp as Nate Williams did last season. I even think he has a chance to play right away. He was the state player of the year for all classifications, and I saw a youtube video which detailed the top hits of washington prep players and he was just a stud. Johri had the hit of the year. He also has a nice presence on the field no matter where he lines up. He also has a little brother at O'Dea who is currently a sophomore who has a standing Husky offer. Johri could push for immediate playing time if needed.
Vince is a good looking athlete with room to grow on either side of the ball. He has great size, speed and intelligence. He was an earlier commit but was covetted by schools up and down the coast. coaches like his potential, and he could play WR, or S if needed. I think Vince is another kid that could play right away if they need him.
Walker is a ferocious hitter from a smaller school down by San Diego. He is a classmate of Husky CB recruit Adam Long. Walker played both middle linebacker and running back for St. Bernard last season totalling 120 tackles, five sacks, two interceptions and four forced fumbles. Was named All-League and all-Area and All-CIF for Playa Del Rey (Calif.) St. Bernard. Walker will play safety at UW. Greg isn't quite as fast as Ferguson, and Taylor, he doesn't have as much size either, but he is a thumper.
Byron Davenport, Jordan Murchison, Matt Mosley, Vonzell McDowell, and Marquis Persley return from last years much maligned Husky defense. Davenport is a lock to start, but wasn't healthy much last season. The other spot is completely wide open with all four players plus Safety Quinton Richardson getting a shot.
The Huskies bring in Justin Glenn, Anthony Gobern, and Adam Long to compliment the existing cast giving the defensive backfield the most depth they have had in a decade.
UW needs some serious improvement at this position if they want to go anywhere next year. As I said they finally have depth, they have a little experience, but the young talent has to rise.
I really think everyone is a challenger for this position, but Davenport has an edge over the other guys going into the Spring. Another interesting factor will be Quinton Richardson who will get a look-see over here too.
I thought Davenport was a good addition when healthy, the trouble was he wasn't healthy very much in 2007. Expect him to reverse the trend in 2008 with a full year in the program to condition. His nagging injuries really hurt the defense last year when the Huskies had to go with younger players to fill in. The UCLA transfer will be a senior in 2008.
Four to five men plus a bevy of freshmen will compete for the spot opposite Davenport.
Like Davenport his presence was missed on the field in 2007. Jordan's problem wasn't health, it was the law. He was suspended from the team for the first half of the year, but he worked his way into the lineup over the last few games. Jordan is a senior with good tools, but little on the field experience. He can be a player, and he will get his chance this Spring
I don't know how comfortable Matt is playing CB. He is a good football player, and he gained some valuable experience under fire at the position last season. I like his aggression, and he played the run better than most of the returning cast. Matt came to UW as RB/WR/DB. He is part of one of the greatest legacies in Husky history being a member of the Carr family from Tacoma.
Vonzell walked in and because of injuries started for the Huskies from day one. That starting job didn't last too long, he lost it after the Ohio State game. Vonzell wasn't ready for the schedule the Huskies played last year. He was picked on all year, but he did have some good moments. I think a year in the weight room is going to make this kid more effective in 2008.
Marquis was one of those guys that tempted the coaches late in the season even though he was redshirting. It was obvious that he was making strides in practice after he got familar witht he defense. The coaches like his size, and they fell he will be a very good, and physical cornerback in the near future. Keep an eye on him this Spring because he has a good chance to move up in the roatation.
Long seems to be the guy with the best chance to play right away according the coaches.
Justin has the potential to be a very good CB. The Huskies were on this kid for awhile, and he ended up being an early commit. according to Scout, Glenn supports the run well. He is aggressive and physical and always seems around the ball. Glenn plays against the pass well too, showing the ability to turn and run with receivers. He is more prepared to play right away than Vonzell McDowell was last season, but I am betting he redshirts.
Anthony rushed for 846 yards and 13 touchdowns. Defensively, he had 36 tackles and 5 interceptions. Goburn is really fast, and he was handpicked by Coach Williams to play in his secondary.
Long finished his senior season with over 900 yards and 17 touchdowns while posting over 50 tackles and one interception on defense. He will play CB at Washington and he was also recruited by Cal, and UCLA. What attracted West coast coaches to Long last year was his great speed. Husky coaches have already said he will play right away in 2008. He has really nice speed and size for corner.