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Washington Huskies Spring Football: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

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After a lackluster showing in 2018, Washington’s passing game is poised for a fresh restart. So which players will help break in UW’s new quarterback?

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl Game-Ohio State vs Washington Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

In 2018, the Washington Huskies fielded an offense featuring a four-year senior quarterback, a deep well of experience along the offensive line, and three upperclassmen among the team’s four most productive pass-catchers. Despite those auspicious circumstances, however, most observers would point to Washington’s passing game as the offense’s most glaring weakness. At season’s end, the team ranked 61st nationally in yards per game, 73rd in passing touchdowns and 41st in passer rating. Combined with a new wide receivers coach in the form of Junior Adams, it would seem that playing time at every wide receiver and tight end position this spring is an open competition.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Name Year Height Weight Receptions (2018) Yards (2018) Touchdowns (2018)
Name Year Height Weight Receptions (2018) Yards (2018) Touchdowns (2018)
Aaron Fuller Senior 5-11 183 58 874 4
Andre Baccelia Senior 5-10 175 55 584 0
Ty Jones Junior 6-4 209 31 491 6
Hunter Bryant Junior 6-2 241 11 238 1
Cade Otton Sophomore 6-5 250 13 174 3
Quinten Pounds Senior 6-0 179 8 166 1
Chico McClatcher Senior 5-8 184 9 134 0
Jacob Kizer Junior 6-4 264 1 8 0
Terrell Bynum Sophomore 6-1 198
Jordan Chin Junior 6-0 174
Devin Culp RS Freshman 6-3 265
Taj Davis Freshman 6-1 912
Trey Lowe RS Freshman 5-8 183
Puka Nacua Freshman 6-2 196
Austin Osborne RS Freshman 6-2 198
David Pritchard RS Freshman 6-0 172
Marquis Spiker RS Freshman 6-3 192
Fatu Sua-Godinet Junior 5-11 187
Jusstis Warren Senior 6-2 232
Jack Westover RS Freshman 6-3 237

Aaron Fuller had the best start of any Huskies receiver last season, amassing four 100-yard games in the season’s first six contests, but only hit paydirt four times on the year (and not once against an opponent ranked in the AP poll). While the senior arguably owns the team’s best track record of any returning receiver, he lacks elite height and hasn’t demonstrated an ability to consistently high-point the ball and win 50-50 battles against defensive backs in tight coverage.

Alongside Fuller, Andre Baccellia represents the most returning experience of any Huskies receiver. Measuring 5-10 and 175, Baccellia has a build better suited for the slot than a true X- or Y-type player who lines up on the numbers, but his breakout performance in the Rose Bowl against an elite Ohio State defense (12 catches for 109 yards) offers a possible glimpse into what he’s capable of accomplishing in his final year on Montlake.

At 6-4 and 209 lbs., Ty Jones has all the physical tools he needs to be a dominant Pac-12 receiver, but to turn that potential into reality, he’s going to need to spend more time this offseason with the Jugs machine than with his closest family and friends. Simply put, a particularly bad case of the dropsies afflicted Jones late last year in the worst way possible, limiting him to eight catches for 82 yards and zero touchdowns in the final five games of the season. If he’s able to get over that hurdle, there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be an all-conference-caliber performer.

This fall is almost certainly the last chance you’ll have to see Hunter Bryant wearing purple and gold (as evidenced by Petersen’s decision last season not to sit him against Oregon State and thus preserve his redshirt eligibility — why bother when you know he’s planning to leave after his third year, anyway?), so enjoy him while you still can. A former freshman All American, Bryant is the team’s best receiving tight end since Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and could easily play himself into consideration this fall for the John Mackey Award, given to the best tight end in college football. He’ll almost certainly become a favorite target of likely quarterback Jacob Eason this fall — assuming he’s able to fully overcome the knee injury that sidelined him for much of 2018, of course.

Quinten Pounds is another player who has shown flashes during his three years at Washington, but rotten injury luck (he’s torn his ACL in both knees since coming to Montlake, and missed a combined 13 games in 2017 and 2018) has conspired to limit his impact on the field. When he’s healthy, though, he’s been an intriguing No. 2 or 3 prospect, and it seems entirely possible that 2019 will offer him just the fresh start that he needs to establish himself as a Pac-12 household name.

After a breakout 2016 campaign in which he produced 705 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns, Federal Way product Chico McClatcher saw action in only three games in 2017 before two knee injuries and a broken ankle ended his season prematurely. The 2018 season was similarly cruel, albeit for different reasons: In late October, he took a step back from the football program to reportedly work through personal issues. While his skill set was badly missed in 2018, it is a great sign that he’s been a full participant on the practice field this week, working out alongside his teammates. If he’s able to go full-speed by the fall, he’ll bring two much-needed aspects to the receiving corps: senior leadership, and elite speed that will threaten opposing defenses over the top.

Sophomore Cade Otton is another prospect worth keeping an eye on this offseason, as the 6-5, 250 lb. tight end looks to build off of a promising redshirt freshmen season in 2018 that included three touchdown catches on 13 total receptions. If he spends the months ahead building chemistry with his quarterbacks and improving his route-running skills, Otton could very well become a red zone fixture for the Washington offense.

Finally, of the UW receivers on campus who have yet to play a snap of college football, you’ll want to pay special attention this spring to the development of redshirt freshmen Austin Osborne and Marquis Spiker, and true freshman Puka Nacua. Osborne and Spiker were both highly regarded members of the 2018 recruiting class, and Spiker’s 6-3 frame allows him to play with a dimension of physicality that is unmatched by any Washington receiver other than Ty Jones. Meanwhile, Nacua made huge waves when he committed to the Huskies in February over offers from USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Utah, and he’s widely regarded as one of the most polished route-runners to come out of the high school ranks in 2019. His early enrollment and participation in spring ball could position him well to break into the wide receivers rotation come fall.

Poll

Which WR or TE are you most excited to watch this spring?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Aaron Fuller
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    Andre Baccellia
    (11 votes)
  • 3%
    Ty Jones
    (29 votes)
  • 26%
    Hunter Bryant
    (199 votes)
  • 0%
    Quinten Pounds
    (6 votes)
  • 7%
    Chico McClatcher
    (59 votes)
  • 4%
    Cade Otton
    (35 votes)
  • 3%
    Austin Osborne
    (23 votes)
  • 31%
    Marquis Spiker
    (239 votes)
  • 16%
    Puka Nacua
    (127 votes)
  • 2%
    Other
    (20 votes)
755 votes total Vote Now