Remember some of the great LB's at Washington?
Rick Redman, George Juggam, Dan Lloyd, Michael Jackson, Bruce Harrell, Joe Kelly, Mark Stewart, Dave Hoffman, Jason Chorak, Tim Meamber, Antowaine Richardson, Chico Fraley, Fred Small, Donald Jones, and Ink Aleaga just to name a few?
What exactly has happened to the linebacking position at Washington?
Why isn't there another Andy Mason, Jaime Fields, James Clifford, or Hilary Butler on the roster waiting to get another QB sack?
The decline started in the Neuheisel years when he started recruiting athletes over football players and missing on evaluations. In 2002, and 2003 he recruited six LB's and only two of them ever ended up being major contributors at the position. to make matters worse it seems they were a step down in quality from previous classes.
During Willingham's tenure they haven't really gone head to head with UCLA, USC, Oregon, and Cal for the best talent in California at linebacker. UW has had some success under the radar but overall the LB corp looks a day late and an EJ Savannah short in 2008.
A big part of the decline has simply been that the state hasn't been producing a lot of great LB's to recruit. The 2005 class that featured EJ Savannah (UW), Anthony Felder(CAL), and Joe Leonard (UH), was probably the last solid LB class. All three of those players went on to be starters and big contributors at their respective schools. When you have to go out of state to recruit with your 4-9 record it compounds the problem.
If you look at the last seven recruiting classes you will notice that Washington hasn't been landing much big time linebacking talent, and there hasn't been a lot of great talent in state which means they have had to fight it out in California.
2002 Recruiting Class (Neuheisel)
White was a big time recruit that started most of the time he was here. White was a big time recruit with a big time mouth. He talked a better game than he played. Baisey never qualified, and Crutchley was a bust and the wasn't given a 5th year by Ty Willingham. What was your favorite Dash Crutchley moment?
- Scott White (Blue Chip)
- Fred Baisey
- Dash Crutchley
2003 Recruiting Class (Neuheisel)
Bomar was overrated. Hemphill moved to safety then into Willingham's dog house. Trew was a bust at LB and many think he was more suited to fullback.
- Tahj Bomar (Blue Chip)
- Kyle Trew
- Chris Hemphill
2004 Recruiting Class (Gilbertson)
Howell was a sleeper that played immediately and started for two years. Howell should have redshirted a year. Winter was moved to DE than to TE. Tuiasosopo was nearly killed in bicycle accident but has come back to become a part time starter the past two years in the middle.
- Trenton Tuiasosopo
- Walt Winter
- Dan Howell
2005 Recruiting Class (Willingham)
Willingham started late but ended up with three players who have started games while at UW. He missed on O'Dea's Anthony Felder, and Zach Follett who now start at Cal. Stevens and Jones were a couple of sleeper recruits during a very tough recruiting year. Both played immediately but Jones redshirted the next season and moved to DE where he is currently a first year starter. EJ was one of the jewels of the class but is no longer on the team. Injuries and behavior kept him from reaching his all Pac Ten potential.
- Chris Stevens
- Darion Jones
- E.J. Savannah (Blue Chip)
The Huskies went with two sleepers. Butler played immediately and has started when healthy. Houston could be earning his first starting assignment this week against Stanford. Travis Goethel who now starts at ASU pulled out of the class late so UW took Houston as a plan B. Atkins was a bust and then an academic casualty.
2006 Recruiting Class
- Matt Houston
- Donald Butler
- Anthony Atkins (JC)
Foster was another true sleepr but this one looks like it is going to pay off in spades. The 19 year old true sophomore has been starting games the past two years. I would say Foster is your defensive MVP in 2008. Sylvester was moved to FB and special teams. Dennison is playing mostly on special teams. Andy Mattingly was the best in state recruit but he wasn't heavily recruited by UW.
2007 Recruiting Class
- Mason Foster
- Cort Dennison
- Austin Sylvester
In 2008 UW had higher rated kids on the list but ended up with a couple of kids who weren't highly recruited at the upper levels. Mangum has good size for the middle but needs to work on his speed. Roussel on the other hand has everything you want but size. Both are redshirting this year.
2008 Recruiting Class
- Kurt Mangum
- Bradly Roussel