Washington's defensive play led the team to four straight wins to end the season including a 19-7 upset win over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. The Huskies return eight starters in 2011.
Alameda Ta'amu can be a dominating player and all he needs is a little help from his friends. He received that against Nebraska and had an Emtman type of game. He has made quantum leaps each year he has been here and I expect that trend to continue. Lawrence Lagafuiana is expected to be his back up. The coaches were very tempted to play him in the Holiday Bowl. Chris Robinson saw quality minutes last year while Lagafuiana sat out to get bigger and stronger. Robinson needs to get bigger if he wants to be the next Cedric Ellis.
Semisi Tokolahi was really coming on until he broke and dislocated an ankle against Washington State. From what we hear the prognosis is good and he could be back as early as April. That being said I don't expect him to be ready for contact this spring. If Tokolahi is healthy this fall it will be a big plus for this defense
Sione Potoae flashed potential last season and he should be a much better player in 2011 with some added muscle and experience. He could end up being the starting if Tokolahi does not return to form.
Spring Depth Chart: Ta'amu, Tokolahi - Potoae, Lagafuiana, Robinson
Class of 2011: If Maatua Brown gets in he is going to be a pretty good player. He can play on either side of the ball but most think he is ticketed for defense. Taniela Tupou is a highly touted kid who could be a big end or a three technique. Danny Shelton announced last week that he is going to be a Dawg and that fills a big need. The Huskies could bring in one more tackle if the right player is available.
Prognosis: We are going to see some improvement in the interior in 2011. Ta'amu is a monster and if Tokolahi can come back at full speed we look pretty good on paper. The depth needs to stay healthy and keep improving. All three newcomers have the ability and will get the chance to compete for immediate playing time.
Possible Surprise: Everette Thompson could potentially stay inside if Tokolahi needs more time to come back. ET's overall play in the Holiday Bowl allowed Ta'amu to get loose and have a monster game.
Everette Thompson can play inside or out but his body is more suited to being on the outside. He made a nice recovery from injuries last season and a healthy off season could mean a quantum leap of improvement for him.
Haouli Jamora and Talia Chrichton also return. Things were starting to click for Chrichton right before he hurt his knee last season. He will be 100% for spring practice. Jamora is a future star and a year in the training program is going yield a really good player in 2011. Kelani Aldrich is scheduled to return but he has suffered with chronic knee problems during his time at Washington. He did have a good game against Nebraska. Andrew Hudson and Josh Shirley will burst onto the scene this spring. Both of these kids are going to be very good.
Spring Depth Chart: Thompson, Jamora - Chrichton, Aldrich, Hudson, Shirley
Class of 2011: Connor Cree and Aubrey Coleman committed earlier this year. Coleman has a little work to do to qualify. He is a freakish athlete who could play at a number of positions. Connor Cree brings speed off the edge. Washington could add one more DE by signing day.
Prognosis: I see the potential for a lot of improvement because you can build a pretty solid rotation out of the six kids that are returning. Jamora is going to be one of the better DE's we have ever had. Give him an off season with Ivan and he is going to explode next season.
Possible Surprise: Shirley and Hudson are going to make an impact next season. These guys bring speed and add depth out on the edge. If Thompson needs to move back inside these two will minimize that impact.
Cort Dennison returns and will stay in the middle. JC LB Thomas Tutogi is expected to win the job at WLB but could conceivable play any of the three positions. Princeton Fuimaono, Cooper Pelleur, and Garret Gilliliand all got playing time last year. Jordan Wallace seemed to have slipped behind Fuimaono on the depth chart. Same thing can be said for Tucker who slid behind Gilliland. Victor Burnett and Jamaal Kearse both red shirted but were praised by the coaches for their play on the scout team.
Spring Depth Chart: Dennison, Tutogi, Pelleur - Gilliliand, Kearse, Fuimaono - Burnett, Tucker, Wallace, Finau, Lyons
Losses: Foster, Aiyewa, Houston
Class of 2011: The Huskies are loading up on linebackers this recruiting season. Matthew Lyons, Scott Lawyer, Jarett Finau, Corey Waller, and Thomas Tutogi are the guys who have committed and Washington just might bring in one more for good measure.
Prognosis: Tough to replace Foster and Aiyewa but there is some good young talent on this team. Dennison returns and he will continue to lead and quarterback this defense. I think the play of Tutogi is a big key and we really won't know exactly what we have their until spring. The young LB's progressed during their first season on the squad and will compete for more playing time this spring.
Quinton Richardson and Desmond Trufant return secure in their starting jobs after showing continued improvement in 2010. Richardson in particular was impressive over the last half of the season. Gregory Ducre, Adam Long, Tony Gobern and Anthony Boyles return as the backups. Ducre looks like the only potential starter down the road in that group.
Spring Depth Chart: Richardson, Trufant - Long, Ducre, Gobern, Boyles
Class of 2011: Kameron Jackson is the lone commit at this position so far. The coaches dropped Joel Willis when he started taking other visits. Expect UW to sign at least one more CB to fill out the class and it might be Marvin Hall who can also return kicks and play WR.
Prognosis: Everyone of consequence returns and the depth is another year older and experienced. I don't see why this unit wouldn't be improved in 2011. The only concern is the quality of the depth behind Richardson and Trufant.
Possible Surprise: Kameron Jackson could conceivably challenge to move into the two deeps next season.
Nate Williams leaves after four seasons as a starter. I have seen better safeties at Washington over the years but he was a pretty productive football player. Sean Parker is ticketed to take over for him in 2011 after playing right away in 2010. Taz Stevenson stepped in for Parker when he went down with stingers and he also could earn that starting job. Nate Fellner returns on the other side and will be backed up by Justin Glenn who played while recovering from a nasty injury that occurred in 2009 against Notre Dame. Will Shaumburger slipped behind Glenn in the depth but he could very well challenge Fellner for the starting job next season. Greg Walker and Marquis Persley also return.
Spring Depth Chart: Parker, Fellner - Glenn, Stevenson, Shaumburger, Walker, Persley, Timu
Class of 2011: Evan Zeger is the lone commit at the moment but James Sample is pretty close to committing to Washington.
Prognosis: Parker is a future star who was groomed to take over for Williams. Stingers hindered him during the last quarter of the season but the coach says he should be fine by spring. I think a tandem of Parker and Stevenson looks pretty good going forward. Fellner is a solid incumbent but he may get a look at LB. Parker, Stevenson, and Shamburger have the potential to be better cover guys than Fellner. The coaches of course love the fact that Fellner has been starting a couple of years. Experience is pretty important back here.
Possible Surprise: Taz Stevenson was the most impressive freshman defensive back IMHO last season. I could see him earning a starting job in 2011.