Putting up photos of former players wearing their jersey number that happens to coincide with the number of days left until the start of the season never gets old. Right, Bishop Sankey?
In today’s 30-day Countdown piece, we arrive at my favorite annual exercise: imagining who I would pick if I could jump into an Ice Bath Time Machine and pluck one former Husky star from his timeline and put him onto the 2018 roster.
This is not to be confused with the Hot Tub Time Machine, which was a John Cusack and Craig Robinson comedy of questionable hilarity first released in 2010 and followed up with a sequel in 2015.
This is the Ice Bath Time Machine - a vehicle of my own invention. You can check the patent.
To make this more accessible and interesting to a wider swath of fans, I propose that we limit our candidates to those Huskies that were great, but maybe not All-American great. Of course, we’d all want to add an Emtman or a Kaufman; those were transcendent talents that would improve any team no matter the depth already existing at their positions.
For this exercise, let’s demonstrate our command of nuance and Husky history. Shall we begin?
Option 1 - Lester Towns, ILB (6’3”, 245 lbs)
This Husky thumper was a stud recruit before stud recruits were a thing.
It’s not hard to understand why. The 6’3” 245-lb Pasadena prospect was once rated by SuperPrep as the #5 player in the West before joining the Huskies in 1995. He would go on to become a starter over parts of his final three seasons at UW.
When healthy, Towns was one of the hardest hitters and most reliable tacklers in the conference. His size allowed him to stand tall in the middle of the field and to take on offensive linemen at the point of attack. He was particularly adept at holding off blockers and getting hands on the ball carrier.
On the day following the release of Ale Kaho from his scholarship, I imagine that a lot of Husky fans would be interested in a bigger, more athletic complement to the inside duo of Ben Burr-Kirven and Tevis Bartlett as we roll into Atlanta for our kickoff against Auburn. Towns would provide that.
Option 2 - John Ross, WR (6’1”, 190 lbs)
Okay, this might be cheating a little bit. But it is an undeniable fact that the combination of Jake Browning to John Ross produced some ridiculous numbers in 2016. And ridiculous numbers are fun. And football is supposed to be fun.
Isn’t this fun?
So, yeah, I’m putting John Ross on this list.
Option 3 - Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, DE (6’4”, 265 lbs)
I know, I know. If one is looking for a pass rush specialist, why not go with Hau’oli Kikaha?
Call me sentimental, but bearing witness to the passing of a 30-year-old man in the prime of his life demands some kind of acknowledgment. Never the biggest or most athletic player out there, DTN played with what most of us call “a motor.”
In some ways, “motor” doesn’t really describe the whirling dervish of grit, mud, and hustle that Husky fans were treated to whenever he was on the field. The unheralded recruit out of Hawaii translated all of that energy into a four-year career as a starter and, until Kikaha came along, held the title as UW’s all time sack king.
DTN had the biggest heart on the team both literally and figuratively. When he passed in his sleep from natural causes, it was rumored by those around him that his heart grew just a little too big. He was an OKG before being an OKG was an okay thing to be.
In today’s version of the Huskies, DTN would undoubtedly be a BUCK and a pass rush specialist. The Huskies don’t really have a player quite like him in terms of accomplishment, though they do have some young players such as Amandre Williams, Ariel Ngata, and Myles Rice who might learn a thing or two from the Husky legend.
Option 4 - Corey Dillon, RB (6’1”, 225 lbs)
The Huskies are blessed to have a couple of stud running backs in Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed. What they don’t have is what recent UW grad Lavon Coleman left behind: a bruiser who can break big ones out of tight spaces.
Dillon, a Seattle native, only played one season at UW. But what a season it was. 1555 rushing yards. 275 receiving yards. 286 touches. Seven yards every time he touched the ball. 25 total TDs, 24 of which were on the ground—a UW record.
Dillon had it all. He could run over a linebacker just as easily as he could juke him out of his tighty-whiteys. His ferocity was as intense as his competitiveness. He had the ability to pick out the weakest, most intimidated areas of a defense and make them pay. He once ran for 222 yards against San Jose State...in one quarter.
Former UW coach Dick Baird, who recruited Dillon, once called him the greatest offensive player in UW history.
He might be right.
I’m going with Dillon if for no other reason than to enjoy the carnage that he lays against an unsuspecting Auburn defensive line, a defenseless Oregon linebacking unit and an underwhelming Stanford front seven. Watching a UW running back blow up opposing defenders never gets old.
Which Husky great would you pluck out of the Ice Bath Time Machine for the 2018 season?
This poll is closed
Lester Towns, ILB
John Ross, WR
Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, DE/OLB
Corey Dillon, RB