Back in 2001 things were starting to get thin in the defensive backfield. Walk on Owen Biddle was seeing a lot of time at Safety. Who will ever forget Chris Massey's performance against Texas in the Holiday Bowl? Obviously there were some big holes to fill.
Rick recruited offense first and figured the skill guys who didn't work out on offense could switch to defense. It didn't work and Washington has been short handed in the defensive backfield for most of the decade. Gilbertson's bust in 2004 added to the problems. Ty went the JC route in 2005, and 2006 and it turned out badly. The last two years we rebuilt the right way but it takes time for the kids to mature.
2001 Recruiting Class (Neuheisel)
Sims was moved to FB and TB where he had a good career. Cunningham started a lot of games and played right away. Jimmy Newell lacked size but not heart. Evan Benjamin was an all conference LB his senior year.
- CB Sam Cunningham
- S James Sims
- S Evan Benjamin
- S Jimmy Newell
2002 Recruiting Class (Neuheisel)
We all know the story of Nate and when he left a big part of the defense went with him. Kim Taylor never played the five years he was on the squad. Matt Fountaine played quite a bit. Eric Shyne was kicked off the team. Jordan Slye moved to WR and flunked out. Dashon had to go the JC route. You have some good talent in the class but it is a bust because Fountaine was the only one ever to have a full career.
- CB Nate Robinson
- CB Kim Taylor
- CB Matt Fountaine
- CB Eric Shyne
- S Jordan Slye
- S Dashon Goldson
2003 Recruiting Class (Neuhesiel)
CJ played early and had a good year and now is with the Seahawks. Hemphil could never get out of the dog house and never got a 5th year. Simpson dropped out of school.
- CJ Wallace
- Chris Hemphill
- Clarence Simpson
2004 Recruiting Class (Gilbertson)
This class looks great on paper, but Bankhead never qualified. Okoebor had a couple of career ending injuries. Sanders dropped out. Harris has been productive but has had a couple of nasty injuries. Goldson had hamstring problems his senior year. Forrester who was they the last guy in ends up to be the top contributor. Okoebor was a good player, even on half a leg he was UW's best coverage guy.
- CB Josh Okoebor (JC)
- S Keauntea Bankhead (Blue Chip)
- S Dashon Goldson (JC)
- S Chet Sanders
- S Mesphin Forrester
- S Darin Harris
2005 Recruiting Class (Willingham)
Neither of these kids qualified and it left Washington with an incredibly thin backfield which crippled Willinghams first team.
- CB Qwenton Freeman (JC)
- CB Chris Handy (Transfer from Nevada)
2006 Recruiting Class (Willingham)
This class is a partial bust. Merrill quit the team the first week. Palmer never qualified. Murchison was eventually kicked off the team. Wells was one of the best players on defense starting from the get go but is redshirting this year with a knee injury. Mosley has started a few games.
- S Jake Merrill
- S Ashley Palmer (JC)
- S Jason Wells (JC)
- CB Matt Mosley
- CB Jordan Murchison (JC)
2007 Recruiting Class (Willingham)
A very solid class on paper that is contributing well in its second year. Richardson is a starter at CB. Williams is starting at Safety. Vonzell Mc Dowell notched some starts in 2007.
- S Quinton Richardson
- S Nate Williams
- CB Vonzell Mc Dowell
- CB Marquis Persley
- CB Byron Davenport
- S Victor Aiyewa
2008 Recruiting Class (Willingham)
Another nice class. Fogerson is the current starter at Safety.
- CB Justin Glenn
- CB Anthony Gobern
- CB Adam Long
- S Vince Taylor
- S Johri Fogerson
- S Greg Walker
I think Willingham has filled the holes here and at wide receiver despite the lack of depth at safety this year. You add Wells, and Aiyewa back into the picture and safety is pretty promising.