University of Washington

Here’s who will start for the 2017 Washington Huskies

Washington quarterback Jake Browning returns for his junior season after throwing a school-record 43 touchdowns in 2016 and being named the Pac-12 offensive player of the year.
Washington quarterback Jake Browning returns for his junior season after throwing a school-record 43 touchdowns in 2016 and being named the Pac-12 offensive player of the year. phaley@thenewstribune.com

QUARTERBACKS

The skinny: So, what is up next for Jake Browning? In 2016, the California native threw a school-record 43 touchdown passes, was named the Pac-12 offensive player of the year and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting, second-highest all-time in UW history. After offseason shoulder surgery, Browning has shown renewed zip on his deeper throws in fall camp.

The backups: A pleasant preseason surprise is the vast improvement of K.J. Carta-Samuels, who is Browning’s clear backup. His poise, even when the pocket breaks down, to make plays has been an encouraging sign. He is brimming with confidence, too. ... Run-first Daniel Bridge-Gadd has shown flashes as a passer, but true freshman Jake Haener has been nipping at his heels for the No. 3 job.

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Hometown / Last school

3

Jake Browning

6-2

210

Jr.

Folsom, Calif. / Folsom

11

K.J. Carta-Samuels

6-2

221

Jr.

Saratoga, Calif. / Bellarmine Prep

17

Daniel Bridge-Gadd

6-2

211

Fr.

Phoenix, Ariz. / Paradise Valley

*Starters in bold

RUNNING BACKS

uw_gaskin
Washington running back Myles Gaskin ran for 1,373 yards and 10 touchdowns last season for the Huskies. He’ll again share the load with bruising senior Lavon Coleman. Joshua Bessex jbessex@gateline.com

The skinny: Look at all the great UW tailback duos — Ron Rowland-Robin Earl (1976), Vince Weathersby-Aaron Jenkins (1987-88), Beno Bryant-Jay Barry (1991), Rashaan Shehee-Maurice Shaw (1997) — and none of them touch the production of the 1-2 punch of Myles Gaskin (1,373 yards, 10 TDs) and Lavon Coleman (852 yards, seven TDs) from last season. Gaskin is the all-purpose tailback who runs with speed, power and purpose. Coleman is the hammer that also plays all special teams.

The backups: The No. 3 tailback job could be fluid all season. Pleasant gets the nod because of his experience and durability from fall camp. But expect Sean McGrew and his jitterbug moves to be a factor once healthy. And, of course, true freshman Salvon Ahmed is a name that keeps popping up in the specialty game-plan discussion.

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Hometown / Last school

9

Myles Gaskin

5-10

191

Jr.

Lynnwood / O’Dea

22

Lavon Coleman

5-11

223

Sr.

Lompoc, Calif. / Lompoc

24

Kamari Pleasant

6-0

194

Fr.

Rialto, Calif. / Etiwanda

WIDE RECEIVERS

uw_pettis
Dante Pettis enters the season as Washington’s clear No. 1 receiver after catching 15 touchdowns a year ago for the Huskies. Joshua Bessex jbessex@gateline.com

The skinny: Arguably the biggest void needing to be filled was left by John Ross. Returning starter Dante Pettis is expected to see his share of double teams, and a reliable No. 2 target needs to emerge. Experience says Chico McClatcher, who works wonders in the middle of the field, will see an increased role. And Andre Baccellia shows intriguing promise. The best bet is that the Huskies will freely rotate among a bevy of pass-catchers.

The backups: Did you say big? This would be a good time for 6-foot-5 junior Brayden Lenius to re-emerge , or for 6-4 true freshman Ty Jones to show he’s ready now. The last time the Huskies had an impact, jumbo-sized threat was Reggie Williams (2001-03). ... Much like Baccellia, Quinton Pounds and Aaron Fuller are quick getting in and out of cuts, and show reliable hands.

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Hometown / Last school

8

Dante Pettis / Outside ‘X’

6-1

195

Sr.

San Clemente, Calif. / JSerra Catholic

21

Quinton Pounds / Outside ‘X’

5-11

177

So.

Cypress, Calif. / Cypress

6

Chico McClatcher / Slot

5-7

181

Jr.

Federal Way / Federal Way

12

Aaron Fuller / Slot

5-10

187

So.

McKinney, Texas / Lovejoy

5

Andre Baccellia / Outside ‘Z’

5-10

171

So.

Thousand Oaks, Calif. / Westlake

81

Brayden Lenius / Outside ‘Z’

6-5

230

Jr.

North Vancouver, B.C. / Chaminade Prep

TIGHT ENDS

uw_sample
Huskies tight end Drew Sample could be a productive option in the passing game this season for Jake Browning and the Washington offense. Drew Perine Staff file, 2015

The skinny: UW coach Chris Petersen had some good tight ends at Boise State (Derek Schouman, Kyle Efaw), but they’ve never really ever been a focal point in his teams’ passing game. And while that likely won’t happen again this season, there is a good chance that Drew Sanple becomes Browning’s favorite safety-blanket in certain situations. Sample is a good — not great — all-around tight end. Will Dissly should see plenty of snaps as a blocking tight end.

The backups: What will distinguish this group is if guys such as Michael Neal, even much-hyped true freshman Hunter Bryant, live up to their billing. All of them are athletic pass-catching threats who can stretch the field. All of them have been hit or miss during fall camp, too. The unit took a big blow when it lost senior David Ajamu to a broken leg during fall camp.

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Hometown / Last school

88

Drew Sample

6-5

259

Jr.

Bellevue / Newport

98

Will Dissly

6-4

267

Sr.

Bozeman, Mont. / Bozeman

84

Michael Neal

6-4

240

So.

Fontana, Calif. / Etiwanda

19

Hunter Bryant

6-2

239

Fr.

Issaquah / Eastside Catholic

OFFENSIVE LINE

uw_adams
Washington left tackle Trey Adams is the anchor of what should be another solid offensive line for the Huskies. Peter Haley phaley@thenewstribune.com

The skinny: The last time this unit was on the field together, it was being pushed around by the Alabama front seven. In comes new offensive line coach Scott Huff, who sees a group that aims to play physical. It all starts with Trey Adams at left tackle — a likely top-50 player for next year’s NFL Draft. He has the size, athleticism in space and nastiness to be a great pro. ... Kaleb McGary isn’t as high-regarded on the other side at right tackle, but Huff says while he looks like a “redwood tree,” he’s quicker than he appears. ... Center Coleman Shelton played his first full season at center in 2016, and is great at reading defenses and making adjustment calls. ... Both guards, Nick Harris (right) and Jesse Sosebee (left), are known for their toughness.

The backups: There is a lot of versatility with this group. Once the projected starter, Andrew Kirkland might be more valuable as a swing lineman off the bench. When healthy, Luke Wattenberg can also play guard or tackle. ... After some early snapping issues in fall camp, Matt James is locked in as the backup center. ... A name to remember —Devin Burleson, the biggest man on the roster, who has made great strides at left guard.

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Hometown / Last school

72

Trey Adams / LT

6-8

327

Jr.

Wenatchee / Wenatchee

70

Jared Hilbers / LT

6-7

313

So.

Beaverton, Ore. / Beaverton

75

Jesse Sosebee / LG

6-5

312

Jr.

Garden Grove, Calif. / Edison

73

Andrew Kirkland / LG

6-4

321

Sr.

Portland, Ore. / Jesuit

79

Coleman Shelton / C

6-4

299

Sr.

Pasadena, Calif. / Loyola

71

Matt James / C

6-5

276

Jr.

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho / Coeur d’Alene

56

Nick Harris / RG

6-1

293

So.

Inglewood, Calif. / JSerra Catholic

77

Devin Burleson / RG

6-8

337

So.

Palmdale, Calif. / Highland

58

Kaleb McGary / RT

6-7

318

Jr.

Fife / Fife

59

Henry Roberts / RT

6-6

300

So.

Bellevue / Bellevue

DEFENSIVE LINE

uw_vea2
Huskies defensive lineman Vita Vea is nearly unblockable on the interior, and if he has a big season like many expect, he could be a high first-round NFL pick next spring. Bettina Hansen The Seattle Times

The skinny: When the name Steve Emtman cones up in discussing the ceiling of defensive tackle Vita Vea, that is saying something. But the redshirt junior is a big man on the move, literally and physically. He is nearly unblockable on the interior, and if he has a big season like many expect, he could be a high first-round NFL pick next spring. ... Quietly, Greg Gaines goes about his business. He has 20 career starts under his belt, and is best-suited taking on double teams at nose guard. ... Of the trio, Johnson — even now at 298 pounds — is the best edge rusher. But he will play inside, too.

The backups: Remember this name — Levi Onwuzurike. Once the Dallas-area defensive player of the year in high school, the redshirt freshman has put on 30 pounds of pure muscle in the offseason, and should play all over the line. Position coach Ikaika Malloe calls Onwuzurike’s ceiling “limitless,” and compares him favorably to Elijah Qualls. ... Shane Bowman and former Federal Way standout Jared Pulu provide depth.

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Hometown / Last school

50

Vita Vea / DT

6-5

340

Jr.

Milpitas, Calif. / Milpitas

56

Jared Pulu/ DT

6-4

278

So.

Federal Way./ Federal Way

99

Greg Gaines / NG

6-2

322

Jr.

La Habra, Calif. / La Habra

96

Shane Bowman / NG

6-4

303

Jr.

Bellevue / Bellevue

92

Jaylen Johnson / DE

6-3

298

Jr.

Corona, Calif. / Centennial

95

Levi Onwuzurike / DE

6-3

290

Fr.

Allen, Texas / Allen

LINEBACKERS

uw_victor
Washington senior linebacker Azeem Victor was named a preseason All American, and is looking to return after an injury ended his 2016 season. Elaine Thompson AP file, 2016

The skinny: You’d be hard-pressed not only to find a better inside-linebacking duo in the country than redshirt seniors Azeem Victor, an AP preseason first-team All-American selection, and Keishawn Bierria, but also in UW history. Victor comes directly out of the same playmaking, sure-tackling mold as the past two UW middle linebackers to go to the NFL — Donald Butler (2009) and Mason Foster (2010). Bierria is the unit’s leader, and team’s returning tackles leader with 70. He’s already earned his undergraduate degree.

The backups: Expect lots of rotating pieces on the outside with Benning Potoa’e and Jusstis Warren on the strong side, and Tevis Bartlett and Connor O’Brien at buck. Who starts could be on a game-by-game basis. ... Ben Burr-Kirven who will likely be the starter in Friday with Victor suspended is a third-year backup, but will have to stave off talented youngsters Camilo Eifler and Brandon Wellington for playing time.

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Hometown / Last school

8

Benning Potoa’e / SAM

6-3

278

Jr.

DuPont / Lakes

45

Jusstis Warren / SAM

6-2

252

So.

Tacoma / Lincoln

7

Keishawn Bierria / WLB

6-1

223

Sr.

Carson, Calif. / Narbonne

13

Brandon Wellington / WLB

5-11

223

So.

Kent / Eastside Catholic

36

Azeem Victor / MLB

6-3

231

Sr.

Compton, Calif. / Pomona

25

Ben Burr-Kirven / MLB

6-0

222

Jr.

Menlo Park, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep

17

Tevis Bartlett / BUCK

6-2

234

Jr.

Cheyenne, Wyo. / East

29

Connor O’Brien / BUCK

6-3

236

Sr.

Trabuco Canyon, Calif. / Santa Margarita Catholic

SECONDARY

uw_rapp
Sophomore safety Taylor Rapp is one of the few Huskies with experience. He intercepted four passes a year ago and will likely play the nickle. Peter Haley phaley@thenewstribune.com

The skinny: As crazy as it sounds, do not expect much of a dropoff from this group after losing cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Kevin King, and safety Budda Baker to the NFL. Why not? This is arguably the deepest position group on the defense. Redshirt freshman Byron Murphy walks, talks, jumps and makes highlight-reel plays like a true No. 1 cover man. ... On the other side, junior Jordan Miller is no slouch. ... Sophomore Taylor Rapp (team-leading four interceptions last year) will slide into the rover role, much like Baker did a season ago. ... And Jojo McIntosh is the unit’s top returning tackler with 67 tackles.

The backups: Based on the fall camps from both cornerbacks, it is a very real possibility that either Myles Bryant or Austin Joyner could challenge for spots with the starting defense. Bryant, a former walk-on, is the team’s best inside-receiver defender; Joyner is two years removed from a serious knee injury, will see the field a lot. ... Petersen has said the incoming defensive backs, including safety Brandon McKinney and cornerbacks Elijah Molden and Keith Taylor, will play right away.

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Hometown / Last school

1

Byron Murphy / LCB

5-11

175

Fr.

Scottsdale, Ariz. / Saguaro

4

Austin Joyner / LCB

5-10

182

So.

Marysville / Marysville Pilchuck

24

Ezekiel Turner / SS

6-2

214

Sr.

Pasadena, Md. / L.A. Pierce College

18

Isaiah Gilchrist / SS

5-10

203

Fr.

Bellevue / Bellevue

14

Jojo McIntosh / FS

6-1

219

Jr.

Canyon Country, Calif. / Chaminade Prep

11

Brandon McKinney / FS

6-0

191

Fr.

Orange, Calif. / Orange

21

Taylor Rapp / Nickel

6-0

212

So.

Bellingham / Sehome

5

Myles Bryant / Nickel

5-8

180

So.

Los Angeles / Loyola

23

Jordan Miller / RCB

6-1

184

Jr.

Oceanside, Calif. / Oceanside

10

Jomon Dotson/ RCB

5-10

181

Jr.

American Canyon, Calif. / American Canyon

SPECIALISTS

uw_vizcaino
After spending last season as the primary punter for the Huskies, Tristan Vizcaino will take over the kicking duties for Washington in 2017. Elaine Thompson AP file, 2015

The skinny: It will be the old switcheroo for senior Tristan Vizcaino in 2017. Last season, he was the team’s regular punter — 40.7 yards per attempt, with 15 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. Now, with Cameron Van Winkle gone, Vizcaino has given up his punting duties to become the kicker. He has plenty of leg strength, and should be a bigger threat on longer field goals. ... One reason Petersen feels good about moving Vizcaino is the emergence of Joel Whitford, a rugby-style punter from Australia. ... Pettis is one of the best returners in the country, and it would not be surprising to see Salvon Ahmed take over one of the primarily kickoff spots, especially with Austin Joyner suspended the first two games.

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

Hometown / Last school

43

Tristan Vizcaino / PK

6-2

202

Sr.

Chino Hills, Calif. / Damien

42

Van Soderberg / PK

6-0

197

Fr.

Olympia / Capital

32

Joel Whitford / P

6-3

224

So.

Neerim South, Australia / Santa Barbara CC

46

Race Porter/ P

6-1

178

Fr.

Seattle / O’Dea

49

A.J. Carty / LS

6-2

243

So.

Santa Ana, Calif. / Servite

78

Luke Lane / LS

5-11

215

Fr.

Bellevue / Bellevue

46

Race Porter/ Holder

6-1

178

Fr.

Seattle / O’Dea

11

K.J. Carta-Samuels / Holder

6-2

221

Jr.

Saratoga, Calif. / Bellarmine Prep

8

Dante Pettis / PR

6-1

195

Sr.

San Clemente, Calif. / JSerra Catholic

6

Chico McClatcher / PR

5-7

181

Jr.

Federal Way / Federal Way

4

Austin Joyner / KR

5-10

182

So.

Marysville / Marysville Pilchuck

6

Chico McClatcher / KR

5-7

181

Jr.

Federal Way / Federal Way

26

Salvon Ahmed / KR

5-11

189

Fr.

Kirkland / Juanita

Todd Milles: 253-597-8442, @ManyHatsMilles

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