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Spring Position Preview: Offensive Line

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Let’s get beefy.

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Spring Practice starts April 7th - just around the corner! Today, we examine the offensive line.

Position Overview

Key Departures:

No scholarship players graduated or transferred.

Spring Additions:

None. 2021 signings Owen Prentice and Robert Wyrsch will not participate in spring.

Key Returners

Everybody. The starting 5 and all depth (not including walk-ons) return for 2021.

Spring 2021 Offensive Linemen

Name Jersey # Height Weight Class
Name Jersey # Height Weight Class
Myles Murao 50 6-3 330 Rs Freshman
Jaxson Kirkland 51 6-7 295 Senior
Troy Fautanu 55 6-4 315 Sophomore
Geirean Hatchett 56 6-4 295 Rs Freshman
Noah Hellyer* 62 6-1 295 Junior
Gaard Memmelaar 64 6-4 295 Rs Freshman
Samuel Peacock 65 6-6 270 Rs Freshman
Henry Bainivalu 66 6-6 335 Senior
Chase Skuza* 67 6-6 300 Senior
Ulumoo Ale 68 6-6 355 Junior
Will Pliska* 69 6-5 290 Junior
Nate Kalepo 71 6-6 330 Sophomore
Roger Rosengarten 72 6-6 280 Rs Freshman
Gage Harty* 73 6-4 275 Junior
Corey Luciano 74 6-4 295 Senior
Luke Wattenburg 76 6-5 300 Senior
Julius Buelow 77 6-8 325 Sophomore
Matteo Mele 78 6-5 300 Junior
Victor Curne 79 6-3 330 Junior
Owen Prentice n/a 6-3 290 Incoming Freshman
Robert Wyrsch n/a 6-7 285 Incoming Freshman
*Denotes Walk-On

The Starting Five

Last year’s starting five should have fans feeling pretty good about the unit this year. I wouldn’t call them dominant, but in four games they did not allow a single sack (technically Dylan Morris ran out of bounds for a 1-yard loss, which counts as a sack) and really limited tackles for loss and penalties. In fact, Washington was #2 nationally in TFLs allowed per game. These stats would likely not stay this way in a full season, but after four games, there was a lot to like.

I would expect the same starting unit to take the field in Washington’s first game on September 4th against Montana:

LT: Jaxson Kirkland

LG: Ulumoo Ale

C: Luke Wattenberg

RG: Henry Bainivalu

RT: Victor Curne

NCAA Football: Washington at Stanford Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

While there was a lot to like - the areas where the Huskies are doing well usually indicate good coaching and working well as a unit - there are areas to improve. Obviously not all of this falls on the offensive line, but UW averaged a fairly middle of the road 4.5 yards per rush. That’s nothing to scoff at, but if the offensive play design is going to be predicated on heavy sets and running power into the teeth of the opposing defense, the offensive line needs to get better at blowing people off the ball and being truly dominant road graders.

After their first “season” as full time starts, both Ale and Bainivalu should improve their technique to pair with their natural strength and drive. Also, did anyone else realize Bainivalu is already a senior?

Luke Wattenberg has been a steady starter and should continue to be solid and provide leadership in the middle. At the tackle spots you have to feel comfortable with Kirkland, a returning All Pac-12 LT, and Curne, who earned Honorable Mention honors.

M&Ms Off the Bench

Short of injury, there probably won’t be much rotating on the offensive line. But, Washington is starting to compile some impressive depth that it might be hard to keep some guys off the field. As we’ve seen in the past two seasons, Matteo Mele is likely the first off the bench. He’s filled in at center but can play some tackle as well. There are guys who’ve been around longer, but I think Myles Murao is so physically talented and athletic he will play some this year. Just a redshirt freshman, I think he’s ahead of Troy Fautanu, Nate Kalepo, and even Corey Luciano in the depth.

For the Future

OL Coach Scott Huff brought in Samuel Peacock and Robert Wyrsch in back-to-back years, and both are very much developmental prospects: long wiry frames, great feet, and nasty attitudes, but a little raw, and need to add weight. They “have all the tools”. Not all these types of prospects pan out, but don’t be shocked if in 2-3 seasons one of Peacock or Wyrsch are starting at tackle. For the time being in spring practice, it will be interesting to see how they hold up athletically at this level. Owen Prentice and Geirean Hatchett are young, exciting prospects, too - both project as interior linemen - but come in with significantly more recruiting hype. With Bainivalu and Ale manning the interior and Prentice and Hatchett coming from run-heavy high school programs, they will need a couple of years to learn the nuances of pass blocking and have an opportunity to start.

Everyone Else

We are probably a year away from from guys like Troy Fautanu, Roger Rosengarten, Julius Beulow, Gaard Memmelaar, and Nate Kalepo competing for time, but isn’t it nice to have such talented young guys in the program? There’s a lot of raw talent and athleticism in the younger ranks of this roster. But with last year’s starting unit returning intact, and the first and second guys off the bench back too, it’s hard to project anyone beyond the top eight OL making an impact in 2021.