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30 Day Countdown Day 17: Breakout Redshirt Freshmen

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Erik Folk or Keith Price? Whoever was your favorite 17, it’s that many days before Auburn.

Washington v USC Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Ah, football season... The birds are chirping, the beer is soon to be flowing, and a new batch of future stars are on campus.

That being said, all the brand new guys... They’re great, but...

Considering all the hype people like to foist upon an incoming class, they’re really not the ones who are typically gonna be doing much. Sure, these 18 year-old former children are shiny and new and generate stupid excitement, but in reality most of them are still a ways away from impacting big games.

But redshirt freshmen? They are the best. They’re like normal freshmen in that their futures are ahead of them, but without the ridiculous disadvantage of essentially being large toddlers that have just been thrown into the fire that is college football.

Oh, and before I forget, it’s Teeth Price amount of days until kickoff:

California v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

So with that in mind, I present to you some candidates for breakout redshirt freshmen:

OLB Joe Tryon

My original notes for Joe Tryon includes the main point that he is bonafide “ripped as s***,” which is the number one thing to watch for when considering who’s gonna be a star. Forty times? Don’t care. Quick-twitch explosiveness? Useless trait. Football IQ? Whatever. Everyone knows the only thing that matters when evaluating a player’s ceiling is whether or not they have biceps the size of Andre the Giant. No, not biceps the size of Andre the Giant’s biceps, biceps the size of all of Andre the Giant.

In that regard, the clear favorite for breakout redshirt freshman is Tryon, the 6’5”, 267 lb outside linebacker from Hazen High School in Renton. His candidacy here is doubly impressive in that, until Tryon came around, I didn’t even know Hazen had a football team. By my knowledge, the closest thing they had to Friday Night Lights was my friends’ Hazen-based ska band. But I digress...

Anyways, besides the fact that it’s common knowledge at this point that Tryon’s raw athleticism is nuts, he’s also at a position where, on UW’s roster, there’s lots of potential talent but nobody that’s consistently excellent game in and game out.

Whether he were to get looks at Buck or even, as some rumors have said, Sam (which given his size is mind-blowing), there’s nobody who’s definitively “won” those positions. Tevis Bartlett, who formerly played on the outside, is moving to ILB to buddy cop the inside with Ben Burr-Kirven, Ryan Bowman’s success was a wonderful surprise but he had issues against more talented offensive lines, Benning Potoa’e has had flashes but has mostly been “potential.” Meanwhile, other players like Amandre Williams, Myles Rice, and Ariel Ngata could all hypothetically be great — by all accounts, they have all had good fall camps — but aren’t proven in any way.

In other words, the circumstances are such that Tryon could very well make a name for himself. Combine that with Chris Petersen’s propensity to rotate the guys up front, and even if Tryon isn’t out there for 90% of the game, he should still get a decent amount of snaps to prove he’s got something to contribute.

WRs Terrell Bynum and Alex Cook

Listen, yes I know this is cheating to list two but, really, who gives a crap? The two have almost the exact same measurables (6’1”, 190ish lbs) a similar skillset, and are at a position where, if young guys don’t step up, Washington is moderately screwed.

Luckily, if young guys do step up, then the offense will have almost no massive defect. And, if that happens, one or both of these guys will likely be a part of it.

While Bynum hasn’t been mentioned a bunch in practice reports from The Athletic, The Times, etc., he supposedly had a good spring and, as a recruit, clearly had talent. Meanwhile, while he hasn’t blown everyone away each day, Cook has had a seemingly productive fall camp so far. Both of the two seem like good choices to be sneakily productive in this offense.

This is all the more true this year, with them being part of a receiving corps that has startlingly little experience but a potentially high ceiling of young talent.

TE Cade Otton

First off, let’s start this by acknowledging that Otton won the Ultimate Bird Dawg Award last year, which is essentially given annually to the second most jacked as crap player on the team (after Joe Tryon, of course). I don’t know if that’s the phrasing Petersen uses but, effectively, it may as well be. Essentially, whoever wins this award has gone so hard in the weight room that they can now bench press your house. (This is of course hypothetical, as you live in Seattle so can’t afford a house.)

Otton should be an interesting case. He’s the grandson of south Puget Sound high school football royalty, Sid Otton, and was offered relatively late in the process. His best offer besides UW was Nebraska and then, what — Oregon State? BYU? But despite being a relatively under-the-radar recruit in 2017, he’s been intriguing the whole time. At 6’5” and 250 lbs, he’s a potential mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses. Furthermore, he’s somewhat of a hybrid type TE that’s valuable as a blocker while also probably having more receiving potential than guys like Drew Sample or Jacob Kizer — the former of which especially is no slouch as a pass-catcher. With Hunter Bryant out for much of, if not all of, the coming season, goodness could Jake Browning use a target like that.

Beyond just getting an end-of-the-year award for being a gym rat (God I hate that cliche term but apparently it’s accurate int his case), he by all accounts had a fantastic spring, offseason, and has continued that momentum as a playmaker through fall camp. With the aforementioned question marks in the offense’s air game, Otton has a huge opportunity to contribute a lot, immediately.

K Peyton Henry

Did you know Washington’s field goal situation last year was pretty darn terrible? If not, congratulations.

If, like the rest of us, you have eyes and did notice that trend, well, this one’s for you. Granted, Henry hasn’t necessarily won the job yet — sophomore Van Soderberg is still in the mix — but the reviews from fall practices are implying he’s slowly becoming the guy to beat for the job.

Poll

Who will make the biggest impact as a breakout redshirt freshman?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Joe Tryon
    (185 votes)
  • 11%
    Terrell Bynum and/or Alex Cook
    (105 votes)
  • 25%
    Cade Otton
    (227 votes)
  • 39%
    Peyton Henry
    (350 votes)
  • 2%
    Other
    (23 votes)
890 votes total Vote Now

Verdict

I think I’ve got to go with Otton. Tryon could be an absolute monster, but so much of that prediction is based on his potential and freak athleticism and power. Bynum and Cook are in a position with a vacuum and both should become decent contributors off of that alone, but they haven’t necessarily stood out consistently in spring and fall camps. Henry likely wins the kicking job, but then he has to actually — wait for it — be a consistent and reliable kicker, something which is insanely difficult on the mental side. Otton seems like the best combination of physically significant, progressing quickly (if we take Petersen, Jude, Caple and Co.’s word for it), and in a position of need. If those align right, he could be a key part of the offense in 2018.

Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.