All indications are that the coaches were very happy with the scrimmage on Thursday and the entire camp in general. A large majority of the players showed up in good shape, injuries were minimal for the most part, and some players are starting to emerge as potential stars.
The most important development has been the added contributions of the true freshmen. Washington is going to play a lot of young kids this season.
At running back Chris Polk, David Freeman, and Johri Fogerson have all showed they are ready to play immediately. Terrance Dailey isn't that far behind but will likely red shirt since the position also returns Brandon Johnson, Willie Griffin, and Brandon Yakaboski.
Tim Lappano has stated that they are going to go with a rotation of three running backs this season. Chris Polk and Brandon Johnson who is now rounding in shape figure to be the first two to be called on. The third is a bit of a mystery with Freeman, Fogerson, and Griffin running neck to neck into the final week of practice before the opener. Expect at least one of the true frosh in addition to Polk to play this season.
Going into this camp the biggest question mark was running back but the coaches feel those questions have been answered and the position will be one of strength in 2008. Look for Chris Polk to contend for freshman of the year honors in the Pac Ten. This kid is going to do some very special things over the next four years if he stay healthy.
Questions are still being answered at wide receiver. D'Andre Goodwin is the only sure thing so far with Alvin Logan not too far behind. Both of those kids are likely to be your opening night starters. Behind them will be Devin Aguilar, Anthony Boyles, Jermaine Kearse, Cody Bruns, and Jordan Polk in no particular order.
Vince Taylor who arrived late is probably going to be the only player to end up saving a year of eligibility. I also think it is a given that they move Vince over to safety to build some depth for the future. The loss of Curtis Shaw due to personal problems hurts since he was the fastest player on the team plus he had game experience.
Over at TE Kavario Middleton has had an exceptional camp and is catching on very quickly. I expect him to be a starter by mid season even though like all frosh he could benefit from a year in the weight room. Everyone knew that Kavario could run and catch but what is impressive is how far his blocking has come along in camp. tim Lappano. The coaches are saying that he is everything they expected him to be and more.
Another great surprise at TE has been the emergence of 5th year senior Walt Winter in his second year at the position. Walt came in with a lot of recruiting fanfare and has played quite a bit since he has been at UW. Walt however has never been a star and one reason for that is he never was at the right position. He was recruited as a LB but was asked to put on weight and play DE. He got some reps in games but never broke into the starting lineup. The move to TE though has given him a home that works well with his talents. Walt is a smart kid who blocks well and has shown in practice that he can be a reliable receiver. Walt is going to see a lot of action this season backing up Mike Gottleib.
Perhaps the biggest question mark going in to the season for me was the defensive line and it still is. If you listened to Ed Donatell's comments the day after the scrimmage he is still looking for some answers at these positions. he mentioned he wasn't that happy with their play while watching the scrimmage but after he watched the film a coupl of times he felt that they did OK.
Daniel Teo Nesheim is the only given this unit really has at this point. The fourth year junior will compete for all league honors in 2008. Darion Jones who has a lot of talent will flank him on the other side. DeShon Matthews and Cameron Elisara are the guys slated to start in the middle. Those two are my biggest question marks going into the season. Both are going to be starting for the first time and while they looked solid this past Spring they lack size and experience. In a perfect world Matthews and maybe Elisara would be playing out on the end. They both will see some time out there in the future. You hope the quickness they can bring can offset the lack of size in the interior.
Coach Donatell would like to develop a large rotation for these positions with only the massive freshman Alameda Ta'amu staying inside at all times. That means plenty of potential playing time for Johnnie Kirton, Nick Wood, Tyron Duncan, Kelani Aldrich, Everette Thompson, and perhaps Senio Kelemente is he catches on quickly after arriving late. All of these young guys are having decent camps and will contribute in 2008.
Craig Noble who was supposed to compete for playing time is going to end up red shirting. He missed all of camp waiting for his Cal exit exam test score. If he doesn't make it soon they just might have him wait till January to enroll.
I think a really big key this season will be the play of Alameda Ta'amu. If he can make his presence felt in the same that Jordan White Frisbee did as a freshman this line may come together better than most people think. It is a lot to ask out of a true freshman but this kid is 350 pounds of almost pure muscle. I really haven't seen much of a belly on him in the photos I have seen. The coaches have been working him in a similar way as Juan Garcia because he still has the lingering effects of a foot injury suffered in high school. All indications though show he is healthy and ready to contribute.
Youth will be served and counted on at Washington in 2008. How quickly these kids come along will be a large part in determining the fortunes of this team this season. One thing for sure is they are going to learn quickly with Oregon, BYU, and Oklahoma as their first three assignments. This is going to be a baptism of fire for these kids and it is going to be very exciting to watch.