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Washington Spring Preview 2015: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

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An up-and-down 2014 season in which the pass-catchers were caught in a general offensive malaise gives way to a 2015 with obvious potential and even more obvious depth questions.

WR Dante Pettis
WR Dante Pettis
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Year in Review

Here's what Brad had to say about the wide receivers/tight ends before last spring:

For the first time in about 15 years, fans look at the roster and can genuinely wonder if there are enough receivers on the team. That's an even greater concern for this spring, as Williams continues to rehab from his injury and the Stringfellow eligibility remains unresolved. Unless Darrell Daniels is moved back to receiver or Stringfellow is suddenly reinstated, there won't be a single wideout over six feet tall, and the only one even close to 200 pounds would be Kendyl Taylor (assuming he's moved there). While there is speed in guys like Mickens, Ross, and Hall, it'll be tough to run a lot of the wide receiver screen concepts without able blockers on the perimeter. Depending on how Petersen and Jonathon Smith ultimately envision the offense, that lack of true perimeter receivers could inhibit the installation of a new offense. Not good.

He was basically correct. Early in the season the options at WR basically boiled down to Ross and Mickens with a touch of DiAndre Campbell. As the year went on, true freshmen Dante Pettis and Brayden Lenius got involved out of necessity, especially after Ross switched to corner. Kasen Williams was present but rarely contributed.

Depth at the position was certainly an issue, and it's unclear how much the weakness of this group hurt Cyler Miles vs. Cyler Miles hurting this group. It's probably safe to say it ran both ways.

At tight end, we saw Cyler develop a little bit of third-down chemistry with Joshua Perkins that never bloomed into an every-down relationship. Darrell Daniels also hinted at his big-play potential (he is a former WR with plus speed).

Overall it was a strange, uneven year for both positions, which is understandable in the context of the coaching change and quarterback/offensive line struggles. It felt like a year stuck in transition, with older players like Kasen and DiAndre lingering without being fully involved and younger players like Pettis and Lenius not quite ready to pick up the slack.

Players Lost/Players Returning

No. Name Position Year Height Weight
Gone
2 Kasen Williams WR Sr 6-3 217
19 DiAndre Campbell WR Sr 6-2 206
84 Michael Hartvigson TE Sr 6-6 251
Returning
4 Jaydon Mickens WR Sr 5-11 171
1 John Ross WR Jr 5-11 194
18 Marvin Hall WR Sr 5-10 187
87 Dante Pettis WR So 6-0 183
81 Brayden Lenius WR So 6-5 217
82 Joshua Perkins TE Sr 6-4 226
15 Darrell Daniels TE Jr 6-4 230
85 David Ajamu TE So 6-5 251
88 Drew Sample TE RFr 6-4 249

Storylines to Watch

Are the sophomores ready to take over?
Kasen and Campbell are gone, and Lenius and Pettis are a year older with a year of early experience under their belt. Ross will nab deep balls and Mickens will catch screens, but this offense badly needs pass-catchers capable of doing everything in between. In particular, Pettis seems to have the potential to develop into a great option in the middle of the field, while Lenius has the frame to dominate in the red zone. Will Pettis and Lenius be ready to take a large step forward from occasional contributors to cogs in a consistent passing attack?

Will Ross be allowed to focus his talents at WR?
The need at cornerback grew so large with he dismissal of Marcus Peters that Ross was moved from an already thin position to serve as a starter on the other side of the ball. Technically we still don't know where he'll play next season. Many have taken the new spring roster, which lists Ross at WR, as a clue or even a quiet announcement, but it has not been confirmed. In other news, that same roster lists Ross as bulking up to a solid 194 pounds. Assuming he does stick to WR full time, can the most explosive player on the roster develop enough chemistry with whoever the hell plays quarterback to hit regular home runs while diversifying beyond the go route and bubble screen?

What's the plan at tight end?
The Huskies have gradually built up a lot of solid depth at tight end. With Hartvigson graduated, none of the four returning scholarship tight ends are obviously limited to blocking alone. However, they still seem to divide into two basic groups. Ajamu and Sample have both bulked up to right around 250 pounds, a very solid weight for a multi-purpose in-line tight end capable of blocking and running routes. The other two, Perkins and Daniels, are closer to 230 and can basically fill the role of a big wide receiver. Will any of these players separate from the pack by the conclusion of spring practices?

Freshmen Arriving in the Fall

Name Position Height Weight
Isaiah Renfro WR 6-1 185
Chico McClatcher WR 5-8 180
Quinten Pounds WR 5-11 166
Andrew Baccellia WR 5-9 165
Michael Neal TE 6-4 219