Washington goes into spring drills with plenty of options at the safety position. Those options could multiply with positions changes and the influx of talent coming in this fall.
Last year Washington lacked depth, experience and a true physical force at the safety position. Jr Nate Williams got more reps back there than anyone else but by the end of the season he was pretty beat up. A host of other players lined up beside him including walk-on So Tripper Johnson, Fr Johri Fogerson, and departed senior Darin Harris.
Depth in 2008 was a huge problem because Jr Victor Aiyewa missed most of the season with a hamstring injury. Sr Jason Wells was out rehabbing his knee, and Darin Harris had a severe concussion early in the season which ended his career. You could say the Safety position at Washington was a complete mess last season and be correct.
There is hope in 2009 because the roster has the type of players who can step in and help immediately. Nate Williams returns for his Jr campaign and we expect a lot of improvement out of him. Playing on the other side of him will be JC transfer David Batts who will give UW a boost in strength and speed. Batts has the potential to make a significant impact wherever he lines up.
Quinton Richardson is almost a lock to move over from corner and he will compete with Williams for the starting job alongside Batts. Sr Jason Wells who was a two year starter sat out last year rehabbing an ACL injury. Disaster struck again this winter when he tore his Achilles tendon. It id doubtful Wells will be able to come back and make much of an impact in 2009.
Walk-on Jr Tripper Johnson returns but count on him to spend most of his time on special teams. Nothing against the kid but if he ends up starting again it means we are in big trouble depth wise.
Marquise Persley made the move to safety last season and he needs to make a move this spring or he becomes a candidate for attrition in December. RS Greg Walker returns for his second season after red shirting last year. He was a LB in HS and could be a candidate to move depending on how the coaches evaluate his talents.
Washington brings in Fr Nathan Fellner and Fr Will Shaumburger this fall. Both of these kids received good marks from scouts and could play early if needed. the coaches love Shaumburger's potential and Greg Biggins of Scout feels he was one of the better safety prospects in the West last season.
Fellner who is the nephew of Bo Cornell and the grandson of former WSU head man Jim Sweeney was one of the top rated safeties in California last year. His HS coach feels he is capable of playing immediately. You have to like those bloodlines.
Jr Victor Aiyewa and So Johri Fogerson are in the mix but I could see the coaches moving them to LB to build up the speed and depth at those positions. Both of these kids can run and hit.
Fogerson flashed a lot of potential but injuries slowed him down. Like any frosh he needed a year in the weight room to build up strength. Injuries didn't allow that so he was thrown into the fire.
Aiyewa won the starting job beside Williams last season and the coaches were excited about his potential. Injuries wiped out his season and he should have red shirted. In desperation Willingham foolishly tried to play him and burned his RS for the second consecutive year.
As far as roster moves go we all saw the potential that WR So Alvin Logan has on defense. With so many WR's vying for playing time I think the coaches move him over here where he could develop into an impact type of player. RS WR Vince Taylor is another guy I can see making the switch now that Wells is likely out. I really liked the film of Taylor on defense when he was in high school.
In conclusion this unit can't get any worse than it was last year and I expect a lot of improvement with an influx of talent and experience coming in. The loss of Wells hurts but I think we have enough athletes coming back to minimize the loss.
Keep a sharp eye on these positions this spring. I think we are going to see plenty of movement between now and the start of the season.