Defensive Back has been an Achilles heel for Washington ever since the bombardment by Texas back in the Holiday Bowl when Neuheisel was here. Who will ever forget Chris Massey getting burned all night by the Longhorns? Who thought it would continue for the rest of the decade?
Hard to believe, but things have continued to get worse since that fateful day. The main problem has been recruiting, retention, and development. UW has not recruited enough numbers at the position, and is only now getting back to the point where they have enough athletes back there to at least practice with. Willingham upon his arrival tried to address the problems by bringing in JC's, but that backfired on him when only a few of those guys were able to get in to school.
Washington's biggest problem has simply been running out of guys to put back there. Without much of a rotation guys get tired, and tired guys get burned. Most of the guys they have had have not improved either which points a finger at coaching, development, and talent.
The last two recruiting classes however have fully addressed the need for numbers and talent. Development and experience need to start taking over for the Huskies to take it to the next level.
Washington went young this Spring. RS Quinton Richardson who came in faster than most thought has been moved from Safety to Corner and is slotted to start opposite of Sr Mesphin Forrester who also moved over from Safety. Sr Byron Davenport will challenge Forrester for a starting spot if he can stay healthy. The transfer from UCLA played well last year when healthy, but he suffered from nagging injuries most of the year. Behind those three you have So Matt Mosley, So Vonzell McDowell, who both started a few games last year in their first year of action. RS Marquise Persley also looks like a potential stud to build with in the future.
True Frosh Justin Glenn, Anthony Gobern, and Adam Long arrive this Summer, and all will get a shot at getting into the rotation if they are ready. Long is a guy the coaches will take a particularly long look at, no pun intended, because he may just be the fastest kid on the team when he gets here.
CB Forrester Sr
CB Richardson RS
CB Davenport Sr
CB McDowell So
CB Mosley So
CB Persely RS
CB Long Fr
CB Gobern Fr
CB Glenn Fr
While we have lots of questions at CB, the Safety position looks pretty good going into Summer. Sr Jason Wells returns after suffering an ACL injury early last year. Wells is a player, and when he went out the level of the defense fell a couple of notches.
So Nate Williams, and So Victor Aiyewa were that starters this past Spring. Both are beginning to remind me of the Husky Safeties of old such as Tim Peoples, Lawyer Milloy...etc... . Both of these kids can run, and lay some lumber.
Sr Darin Harris returns for his final campaign, and he has played a lot during his career starting, and backing up. He may not be the most talented Safety we have ever had, but the kid gives a solid effort every time he hits the field. Also in the depth you have Jr Tripper Johnson who walked on after ending his baseball career. Tripper had a good Spring and rose to second string on the depth chart.
The Huskies also bring in three new true Frosh Safeties in Johri Fogerson, Greg Walker, and Vince Taylor. All three are very good athletes, and Fogerson will most likely get a good look at RB before moving over to DB. Walker was a LB in HS, and Taylor could play WR, or DB. Vince has the potential to develop into a specimen.
S Wells Sr
S Williams So
S Aieywa So
S Johnson Jr
S Harris Sr
S Fogerson Fr
S Taylor Fr
S Walker Fr
Ed Donatell's background is as a DB coach, and he will change the look of this unit this season with the help of Coach Williams. As a group I think play will improve dramatically due to better teaching, schemes, and play calling. Coach Baer looked brain dead most of the time, don't expect the same performance from Donatell who is an excellent coach. Enjoy Ed the one year he is at UW because chances are he will rejoin Jim Mora when he takes over as coach of the Seahawks next season.
Overall I love our potential at safety, but CB frightens me a little. Our two top corners are converted safeties which means we should be able to attack the run better, but will these kids be able to provide adequate pass coverage in a throwing league like the Pac Ten?
I thought they played well this Spring, but that was against our young, and inexperienced WR corp. The Oregon game will test this group right out of the gates. We will know what we have by halftime.
The future looks pretty good since UW now sports a young and talented group with lots of talent and depth. Look for the next recruiting class to include 2-3 more DB's to keep building depth. Experience is what will make this young group better, and they are going to get a lot of it this season playing the nations toughest schedule.