Looking for reasons to get excited for the upcoming football season, Washington fans will look toward the Husky linebacking corps. Boasting one of the best and most experienced starting groups on the west coast, the Huskies return five players with starting experience to fill the three positions.
In the middle, Washington is led by Sr Donald Butler, whom Steve Sarkisian believes is good enough to have started at USC. Butler has battled nagging injuries his entire career, but arrives this fall in excellent condition and ready to have a season leading to a spot in the NFL draft. Flanking him will be two other players with NFL aspirations, fellow senior EJ Savannah and junior Mason Foster.
When healthy, Savannah has the ability to take over a game from his WLB position. He has had a star crossed career off the field that led to him being thrown off the team last fall by Ty Willingham, but was welcomed back by the new staff and arrives with much to prove in 2009.
SLB Mason Foster has earned playing time since the first day he arrived on campus. One of Washington's best defensive players in 2008, Foster has improved each season, and with the increased conditioning required by the new staff, Foster is predicted to have a stellar season.
ILB Trenton Tuiasosopo earned a 6th season due to previous injuries. Trenton is solid player against the run, but lacking foot speed, appears ill at-ease in passing situations. He and Butler provide solid depth on the inside. Tui is a strong insurance policy should a starter go down with injury.
Redshirt freshman Kurt Mangum ought to get some much playing time this season, as the coaches want see what he can do before Butler and Tui graduate.
Jonathan Gage returns for his senior season after starting in place of Savannah the first part of 2008. He eventually lost the job to Matt Houston, who simply wasn't much of an improvement. I believe Gage will see playing time primarily on special teams duty this season. Cort Dennison is another option at LB, who played on special teams last year, but little elsewhere.
UW welcomes three frosh in the 2009 recruiting class. ILB Andru Pulu impressed scouts several weeks ago in the Washington High School all-star game held in Everett. Playing sideline to sideline and leading his team in tackles, Pulu could eventually end up as a DE. However, if he can keep his speed up and his size down he could be a big plug in the middle.
Another recent note on Pulu. The crew from Dawgman described him as being absolutely chiseled with really good looking speed when seen during the informal workouts this week. Kimo Makaula who was recruited as a TE will get an early look at either DE or LB. Nothing of course is written in stone this early.
Tim Tucker is another inside player with good size who could line up at ILB or SLB in the future. Husky legacy Jordan Wallace was a late commit; we haven't seen much film on Jordan, though his HS coach raves about him. If he is anything like his brother CJ, the Huskies have themselves a real player on the outside.
With four linebackers graduating in 2009 and some of the backups labeled as questionable Washington really needs to bring in 3-4 solid LB's in the 2010 recruiting class. You might also see a safety or two moved up to provide some depth on the outside.
Depth Chart ILB
- Donald Butler Sr
- Trenton Tuiasosopo Sr
- Kurt Mangum Rs
- Andru Pulu Fr
Depth Chart SLB
- Mason Foster Jr
- Cort Dennison So
- Tim Tucker Fr
Depth Chart WLB
- EJ Savannah Sr
- Matt Houston Jr
- Jonathan Gage Sr
- Jordan Wallace Fr