Not all backups are created equal. Sometimes you might have a young stud sitting behind an established starter. Or maybe, you have a solid veteran who steps in at a key moment in the game when the coaches need someone they can trust. In Washington’s case, due to some excellent recruiting the last few years, there’s now a wealth of younger talent on the roster who have been patiently waiting their turn to prove why they were such highly rated recruits. Today, we ask the question: Who’s the non-starter you’re most excited to see on the field? I’m going to provide you with three of my top picks, including two redshirt freshmen and one true freshman. Then you’ll get a chance to vote and/or remind everyone in the comments of that guy who I didn’t name but you can’t wait to see get their chance to prove it on the field. Let’s get into it.
Rome Odunze, WR
The 6’3” true freshman WR has been getting rave reviews from coaches for his play making skills in camp. With an exceptionally rare pairing of size and speed, Odunze could be a truly dangerous weapon for the Huskies out of the slot. He’s also been getting looks as a return man in practice, which should indicate that he has a better than decent chance of seeing real time on tthe field this season. But given the elite talent that exists in the receiver room, he’s got an uphill battle against some stiff in-house competition. What I find interesting here is that after a few years of not playing young wideouts, we saw Puka Nakua breakout last season as a true freshman. Maybe Jimmy Lake will also be open to playing younger talent? Also, Odunze was recruited by current WR coach Junior Adams, which may help his case to see the field early.
Fa’atui Tuitele, DT
Tuitele was the highest rated player in Washington’s 2019 class. At 6’3” and about 305 lbs, he has prototypical size for a D-1 defensive tackle to pair with his elite talent level. Many thought that he might be able to step into the D-line rotation as a true freshman, but as the season progressed it became apparent that a pectoral injury was holding him back from extensive playing time. Given the entire offseason to recover, Tuitele, and fellow redshirt freshman (and former 4 star DT) Jacob Bandes, should prove to be an imposing pairing behind Josiah Bronson, Sam Taimani, and Tuli Letuligasenoa. With the size and skills this guy has, it’s my hope he establishes himself as an interior pass rusher and bags his first sack during the 2020 season.
Cameron Davis, RB
There’s been a lot of talk about the diverse set of skills that the redshirt freshman running back brings to the table. At 6’ 205 lbs., he has the size to be called a “big back”, but he has shown a combination of other skills that combined are absent from any one particular player in the running back room. He has speed to pair with his size, and an elusiveness to his runs that the more downhill, bruising Richard Newton has yet to flash. Not that Newton isn’t a great runner. In fact, he’s the presumed starter this season. But when compared to Newton and Sean McGrew, Davis has the most well rounded skill set that you would hope to find in a feature back. The coaches have even talked up Davis’ ability as a pass catcher and his ability to pick up blocks on protection. He’s the full package. Expect to see this guy get his chances this season, and don’t be surprised to see his touches increase as the season progresses.
My Pick: Maybe I gave it away with the picture, but I’m most excited to see if Rome Odunze can see the field as a true freshman despite a loaded receiver room. Anytime a true freshman can breakthrough and establish themselves as a playmaker is always a thrill. Especially at such a dynamic position as wide receiver where we’ve seen so many young guys contribute across the college football world, it’s reasonable that this unique talent could prove to be an immediate difference maker for this offense. Even if he doesn’t see the field week-1, don’t be shocked to see Odunze contribute in a major way this season.
Who’s the non-starter you’re most excited to see on the field?
This poll is closed
Honorable Mentions: I seriously considered adding ILB’s Daniel Heimuli and Ethan Calvert to this list, however apparently both guys are still not 100% recovered from the injuries they suffered last year. If they were both fully healthy and ready to go, one or both of them could be on this list.