Yellow Jerseys: UW's Most Indispensable Players

Yellow jerseys - if only we could hand them out in life. - GoHuskies.com

If you could put a yellow jersey on any two Husky players to protect them from life this offseason, who would they be?

As most of you know, including my good "frenemy" Lear Pilot and just about anybody who has the compulsion to read my blog posts whenever they are released, life can be tough.  There are precious few guarantees that any of us are going to wake up in the morning and even fewer that ensure we'll each make it through the day standing.  These truths certainly apply to every day mortals like you and I just as, unfortunately, they apply to members of our beloved UW football program.

But here is the rub:  there ain't no way any of us are going to give two squirts in the unlikely event that Kirk gets concussed by a piano falling out of a dorm window as he cuts through campus nor are we going to get all that wound up in the event that Brad breaks a femur while parkouring amongst his favorite buildings in Pioneer Square.  While these things may be tragic to the participants involved, including the owner of the piano, they will hardly get in the way of us and our obsession with the Purple and Gold.

Ah, but if even a single football player should suffer the misfortune of a pine cone falling on his head while walking to class .... pandemonium runs wild.

It kind of makes you wish that you could put yellow jerseys on all of our guys to help them get through the entire offseason unscathed and unharmed (and, preferrably, free of any legal entanglements).

As I pondered the notion of the magical Yellow Jersey, I began to wonder what I would do if I had in my possession just two such marvels.  How would I use them?  Who would I share them with?  I briefly considered the idea of putting them on my children.  After all, I do have two of those.  But I quickly dismissed that idea given that a) they are already (supposedly) protected while in my care and b) they are replaceable.  No, it would be better to use them on our Husky players.  One on offense and one on defense.  Yup, that's the ticket.  (Geez, I hope my wife isn't reading this right now.)

Yellow Offseason Jersey - Offense

In compiling the list of candidates upon whom I might bestow my mythical yellow offseason jersey, I had to think long and hard about the criteria.  Certainly, the player's ability to contribute on the field is a no-brainer.  The player's leadership in the locker room and on the field - both in terms of his ability to motivate and his knowledge of the intricacies of the game - is also important.  I think we also have to be mindful about the overall status of the position group in terms of how deep or not-deep the club is overall.

With those criteria in mind, who are our candidates for offense?  Certainly, offensive line leaps to the top of the list - in particular with our bookend tackles in Michah Hatchie and Ben Riva because, let's face it, the spring has taught us that our options for Tackles aren't fully developed yet.  Lavon Coleman was a standout this spring and is, by many accounts, already sporting the body of an NFL running back.  Jeff Lindquist had a stellar spring while Troy Williams may still be the future of the position.  The newly minted #LegionOfZoom members, Jaydon Mickens and John Ross III, are sure to be the focal points of the offense this year.  Josh Perkins is likely to become the #1 option in the red zone. Demore'ea Stringfellow may be the best all around WR to ever come out of UW by the time it is all said and done while Kasen Williams' comeback will surely be a vital component to our future success.

If you picked any of those guys to bestow your yellow jersey to, good on you.  For me, I'm going with Deontae Cooper.  My first reason is an emotional one.  This young man has been through enough and he deserves as many healthy offseasons as he can garner.  Beyond that, there are several good football reasons to give him my yellow jersey.  First, he is unquestionably the heart, if not the soul, of the offensive unit.  As a reserve or a starter, the Huskies get their emotional edge and their everyday motivation from the man who bled purple while coming back from three ACL tears.  Two, Coop is, as of right now, the most complete back on the roster.  While not the best at any one category, Coop has shown in camp the best mix of ability to block, ability to protect the ball, vision in waiting for holes and breakaway speed amongst all the backs.  He may not be the future, but he may well be the present.  Finally, Coop is still - and will always be - rehabbing.  If he is going to be what we need him to be by the time the Apple Cup rolls around, he needs every advantage he can get ... including my yellow jersey.

Yellow Offseason Jersey - Defense

Just like the offense, there are plenty of good candidates here.  The leader in the middle, Danny Shelton, is a one of a kind player and among the top two or three interior linemen in the Pac 12.  Hau'oli Kikaha has, like Coop, been through the physical wringer coming back from two of his own ACL tears and has become the biggest playmaker on defense as well as one of the premier pass rushers in the nation.  John Timu is the nerve center of the entire defense and has developed into one of the best middle linebackers to come through UW in the last decade.  One couldn't be blamed for considering granting his yellow jersey to young guys like Jermaine Kelly or Budda Baker given how much they are going to be counted on in 2014.  And, of course, we all expect a breakout of epic proportions from the immutable Shaq Thompson ... on both sides of the ball.

For me, the yellow jersey has to go to Marcus Peters.  While there are other guys who play more important leadership positions, Marcus is the most indispensable player ... as of right now ... given his capabilities and the overall lack of developed depth in the defensive secondary.  I really wanted to go with one of Timu, Kikaha or Shelton, but each of those guys benefits from rotational relief that is coming on strong - in particular with the flourishing of guys like Elijah Qualls, Victor Azeem, Marcus Farria and JoJo Mathis.  Peters is not going to get many breaks this season and, as such, a healthy and rejuvenating offseason is a must.

So, who do you got?  Who would get your yellow jerseys to protect them from the game of life this offseason?

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