The Huskies’ evolving secondary has been a major narrative of head coach Chris Petersen’s first three years in Montlake. In 2014 it was “Oh baby these are some young guys. Also our defense is unreliable. Also I hate it. Oh wait it’s November now and they might be good.” In 2015 it was “Yup November was right, they are good.” In 2016 it was “OMG THEY’RE SO GOOD. Oh s*%# that means they’re all gonna leave for the NFL. I hate my life.”
Now 2017 decided to come join us and we’ve reached the first year under Petersen without a major part of that secondary: the corners who stole all of our hearts, Kevin King and Sidney Jones.
And while any sane Dawg fan will always miss those two, the upcoming season’s secondary includes cornerbacks with plenty to show off.
Everybody. Just kidding, but sometimes it feels like it. Notable stats are from last year.
Kevin King (6’3”, 200 lbs): 44 tackles, 2 INTs, 13 passes defended
Sidney Jones (6’, 186 lbs): 39 tackles, 2 INTs, 6 PDs, 2 FFs
You’ll notice King had a lot more passes broken up than his counterpart last season, which will be one of the bigger adjustments for 2017’s corners — unlike 2016, the upcoming season doesn’t feature any established names who are known to shut down an entire side of the field and force quarterbacks to throw to another guy. That’s pretty much what happened last year, giving King Kevo more opportunities to break up opponents’ air game.
No doubt someone else will emerge as the next shutdown corner, but it’s still sad to see Jones and King go.
JR Jordan Miller (6’1”, 184 lbs): 7 tackles, 1 INT
SO Austin Joyner (5’10”, 182 lbs): 10 tackles, 1 INT
SO Myles Bryant (5’8”, 180 lbs): 3 tackles, 1 PD
Normally, when a true freshman walk-on sees the field it’s a sign that everything is horrible and Satan is taking out his jealousy over Chris Petersen’s perfect jawline and suave purple-camo pants by making our backfield suck (hello there, 2014 season). But when a true freshman walk-on forces the coaches to play them despite that unit’s tremendous depth, that just means there’s one more badass on a secondary filled with them. I’m talking about Myles Bryant, who this summer was awarded a well-earned scholarship.
The news out of camp seems to be that Bryant and Joyner are battling for that third corner spot (can we say “nickel defense all day erryday,” boys and girls?) and that they’re both killing it. Frick yeah.
The next notable returning player is Jordan Miller, who has surprised absolutely nobody by looking the part of a 2017 starter. Barring injuries, all three of these returnees should make significant contributions to Washington’s secondary this season.
Redshirt FR Byron Murphy (5’11”, 175 lbs)
Redshirt FR Kentrell Love (6’1”, 182 lbs)
FR Elijah Molden (5’10”, 186 lbs)
JR Jomon Dotson (5’10”, 180 lbs)
FR Keith Taylor (6’2”, 186 lbs)
While Byron Murphy has by all accounts nabbed a starting role already, a couple other guys are intriguing sleepers. Kent Love seems to be a candidate at nickel or safety but could also see time as a true corner so I wanted to include him here. Freshmen Molden and Taylor will likely redshirt, although there’s been some talk that Molden might be too good to keep off the field. Knowing Petersen, however, I sense he’ll try his hardest to keep him redshirted to get stronger and smarter.
Then there’s Jomon Dotson who’s technically not “new” but he switched during spring ball from running back to defense so I figured I’d include him under the newcomers. As a former running back and current DB, Dotson has the poor luck of playing the two positions where the Huskies are most loaded at. Regardless, it’ll be fun to see if he can carve out more playing time in his new spot.
Even with the departure of two extraordinary CBs to the NFL, I’m embarrassingly excited to see what this new group can do. There will be a fair learning curve with this unit but the guys being brought in are a combination of experienced, talented backups stepping up and freak redshirt freshmen which should adapt fluidly. In fact, I’m so stoked to watch this new crop of corners (and safeties, but that’s for another day), I wrote 1,000 words on it right here.
Both the returning players and newcomers are by all accounts making Jimmy Lake’s job of deciding who gets on the field quite difficult. As a fan, however, I’ll take that problem any day.
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.