It's the offseason. Husky fans in this forum are notorious for locking into a few key subjects - or players - and beating the proverbial horse to death as we all await the crumbs of news that occasionally fall to us as we await the return of the regular season.
There isn't anything wrong with that. It's a classic coping mechanism. Husky fans are getting pretty familiar with this notion of "coping". Talking about things that are familiar and contestable subjects is a common - and healthy - exercise for a perpetually stressed fan base.
You all know the big names and topics that we've been debating here:
- The Quarterbacks that are here (Jeff Lindquist, KJ Carta-Saumuels, Jake Browning) and the one that isn't (Cyler Miles)
- The DL replacements: JoJo Mathis, Vita Vea, Greg Gaines and Elijah Qualls
- What position will John Ross play?
- How will the running back troika work out between Dwayne Washington, Lavon Coleman, and Deontae Cooper?
- Is Jake Edlrenkamp ready to protect the blind side?
- Is Darrell Daniels ready to be a star?
...and so on.
But who are we not talking about enough? This spring has brought with it an emergence of some names that perhaps we hadn't been giving enough attention during the winter. This list is dedicated to the top UW players that we should be talking more about.
7. Joshua Perkins, TE
Since he came to UW, Perkins - a converted WR - has been plagued by comparisons to his predecessor, Austin Seferian-Jenkins. However, the 6-4, 230lb TE was never going a good comparison to the massive ASJ given the difference in body type and playing style that Perkins brought to the field. Nevertheless, Perkins has continued to make plays throughout his career. He enters this spring with six career TD receptions and two years playing in the regular rotation. In many ways, he's very similar to his more chatted about counterpart, Darrell Daniels. They compare in stature but Perkins possesses the better hands if not the same straight away speed and athleticism. The rapport that he appears to be building with the QBs is encouraging and, assuming he could stay healthy, may portend a breakout season.
6. Andrew Kirkland, OT
Lost in the hand-wringing over Jake Eldrenkamp's readiness, Coleman Shelton's injury and Kaleb McGary's timeline is the fact that Kirkland has regularly been running with the ones at RT throughout camp. When he hasn't been in at RT, he's been backing up Eldrenkamp at LT with the second line. If you read the tea leaves here, it would appear that Kirkland is getting a strong look as a primary backup for both Tackle positions if he doesn't straight away win the RT job at some point. Either way, AK is looking like a key part of the plan for Chris Strausser.
5. WIll Dissly, SDE / 3T
If you work for ESPN and happen to be reading this article, pay attention to the name "Will Dissly". Dissly is a classic 2-star Chris Petersen find out of the state of Montana who could very well be the next "Two Star Scoobs" for ESPN's Pac 12 Blog crew to promote and fawn over. Many UW fans were caught off guard when Dissly had his redshirt burned early in his true freshman year. Yet, here we are a year later looking at one of the most versatile defensive lineman on roster. JoJo Mathis called the 270lb "a monster" and DL Coach Jeff Choate has regularly been rotating him between interior and perimeter positions. The fact that the coaches are working so hard to get Dissly reps in different roles hints at the fact that they expect him to be on the field a lot in 2015.
4. Kevin King, DB
King is a known name, but a less known commodity to Husky fans. Though he has been a bit banged up so far this spring, two things have happened that suggest we ought to be paying more attention to Kevin King. First, his dominating performance at the Husky Combine a few weeks ago was a strong reminder of the elite athleticism that King possesses. It was that kind of athleticism, combined with his football IQ, that led him to the field as a true freshman and to playing most of 2014 out of position at SS. Second, rumors have been swirling that King is being looked at strongly as a CB candidate in 2015. Combining his athleticism with that 6'2" frame is something that ought to have Husky fans buzzing. If he can demonstrate the requisite coverage skills in spring and fall, he could emerge as a legit matchup equalizer against some of the bigger WRs in the Pac and a solid rotational guy to complement Sidney Jones, Jermaine Kelly, Darren Gardenhire and Naijiel Hale. Oh, and some kid name Austin Joyner.
3. Jomon Dotson, RB
I admit that I've kind of looked at Dotson as an insurance policy ever since he was added by Chris Petersen to the 2014 recruiting class. With physical dimensions similar to Jaydon Mickens and John Ross, it hasn't been obvious to fans exactly where Jomon fits or when he'll get a chance to see the field. The fact that he redshirted also helped to hide from fans what this young athlete is capable of. But there is no doubt that we are seeing it now. Dotson caught our attention at the Husky Combine with some strong showings in a few events and then has gone on to be a true standout in the early parts of Spring Camp. Dotson is impressing many onlookers with his quickness and decisiveness. While he has yet to really get challenged with real contact, there is some buzz around Jomon.
2. Siosifa Tufunga, OL
One of the biggest questions coming into this spring was how the competition for the Center position would work out. While most of us expected Tufunga to get a long look, many of us were talking about Dane Crane and how it was his destiny to take over. It hasn't exactly worked out that way. In fact, it would seem at first blush that the competition was over before it even began. Tufunga, who played a lot last season mostly at the OG position, seems to have already locked down the C position for Chris Strausser as Crane has been getting most of his reps at OG. The caveat is that it is still early in the spring campaign and this staff is notorious for rotating guys through different positions in order to increase overall roster flexibility. However, the early signs are that Tufunga actually won this job during the offseason which, by itself, is worthy of some more discussion.
1. Cory Littleton, LB
The most familiar name on this list may also be one of the least talked about. Cory Littleton is technically not a returning starter given the fact that he backed up both Shaq Thompson and Hau'oli Kikaha in 2014. However, it is important to remember that Littleton was, in fact, a regular starter for Steve Sarkisian and that his total snaps played in 2015 were at a starter level. Going into 2015, he's a lock to start and, given his unique physical dimensions and athleticism, may well become the most disruptive player that the Huskies will put on the field. The fact that Travis Feeney seems to have gotten more attention doesn't change the fact that Littleton is a critical component to what Pete Kwiatkowski will try to implement in the season ahead. His versatility is sure to be leveraged in a variety of ways by Coack K and the early indicators coming out of camp are that he his ready to embrace the role.
Other Candidates: K Cameron Van Winkle, OG Jesse Sosebee, DB Darren Gardenhire, OL Michael Kniep, DB JoJo McIntosh, DL Taniela Tupou