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Coach Presser Notes, Roster Updates

Updates on the Husky roster including injuries, eligibility, and more

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Head Coach Kalen DeBoer as well as Offensive Coordinator Ryan Grubb and co-Defensive Coordinator Chuck Morrell all met with the media this afternoon. Washington’s pro day is tomorrow while spring practices begin on Wednesday. The official spring roster also received an update yesterday. Suffice to say there’s a lot going on. Here’s what you need to know.

Adding Injury to Injury

There were several Huskies who are banged up right now. The biggest news was that DeBoer confirmed the rumor that Edefuan Ulofoshio suffered a serious injury during winter conditioning. That injury is expected to not just knock him out for the spring but also for at least some games in the fall. Ulofoshio missed the 2nd half of this past season with a separate arm injury.

Linebacker was already perhaps the thinnest position on the roster and now the Huskies have lost their most experienced returning player for at least the beginning of next season if not the entire year. Pittsburgh transfer Cam Bright who just started classes this week and Carson Bruener should be the expected starters with Daniel Heimuli as the primary backup. Alphonzo Tuputala and JUCO transfer Demario King will likely compete for that 4th linebacker spot. Washington absolutely can’t afford another injury at this position.

No Running It Back

It looked like running back might be one of the deepest positions on the roster at least from a numbers perspective though not a returning production view. That has changed as the only 2 returning rotation players from last year are both out for spring. Richard Newton tore his ACL during the year so his absence was expected but Cam Davis also has an injury which will knock him out over the next month although both are expected to return by the fall. Emeka Megwa also suffered a leg injury in the fall which is not healed enough yet to allow him to return. Finally, Sam Adams II is listed as limited.

That means 7 scholarship players is down to just 3 and Grubb today noted in the past they have gone with a 2-back system. New Mexico transfer Aaron Dumas will have a great chance to lock in substantial playing time this spring as will returners Jay’Veon Sunday and Caleb Berry. Coach Grubb also noted that last year’s 4th string QB Camden Sirmon has been moved to running back presumably in part to improve the depth there and allow for the team to function properly in practices this spring.

A Less Offensive Line

Coaches Grubb and DeBoer helped provide a little more clarity around the offensive line rotation for next year. Unfortunately the biggest puzzle piece is still a mystery as Jaxson Kirkland has not heard back yet on his waiver to the NCAA. He is still enrolled at Washington though and if he gets approval he would be able to re-join the team presumably as the starting left tackle.

In Kirkland’s absence for the time being at least Grubb suggested that Troy Fautanu and Roger Rosengarten will each get reps at the left tackle spot. Although Rosengarten will also could play right tackle per Grubb. The frontrunners at the center position appear to be Geirean Hatchett and Corey Luciano although former top recruit Myles Murao is also in the mix there as well. Grubb noted that

The Weights, They Are a Changing

When you stop and think about it, it’s bizarre how fixated college football fans are about the weight fluctuations of 19 year olds. Nonetheless, extreme changes in weight as part of the offseason strength and conditioning program is one of the clear signals for when a player might be in for a major change in role. Here are some of the biggest differences from the start of fall camp to now which is approximately 7-8 months.

5 Biggest Weight Gains (6 with ties)

DL Noa Ngalu 275 to 299 (24 lbs, +9%)

EDGE Sav’ell Smalls 250 to 265 (15 lbs, +6%)

DL Tuli Letuligasenoa 300 to 313 (13 lbs, +4%)

CB Dyson McCutcheon 170 to 181 (11 lbs, +6%)

RB Jay’Veon Sunday 195 to 206 (11 lbs, +6%)

S Vincent Nunley 180 to 191 (11 lbs, +6%)

5 Biggest Weight Losses

DL Siaosi Finau 315 to 266 (49 lbs, -16%)

WR Jabez Tinae 205 to 185 (20 lbs, -10%)

EDGE Zion Tupuola-Fetui 260 to 241 (19 lbs, -7%)

TE Caden Jumper 265 to 249 (16 lbs, -6%)

EDGE Jordan Lolohea 265 to 249 (16 lbs, -6%)

The most noticeable changes are the ones along the defensive front. It wasn’t a matter of players consistently bulking up or slimming down at the same position group which might indicate a wholesale shift at the desire from the coaching staff. It appears to be more of a shift at the individual level. Noa Ngalu and Tuli Letuligasenoa appear to be getting ready to play more as a nose tackle run defender. Tuli entered college at close to 330 and had worked hard to get down to 300 but it seems the coaching staff might’ve thought he lost too much weight. Ngalu entered around that 275 mark and has been there for a few years but has finally gotten up closer to 300.

On the other Siaosi Finau looks like he might be in line for a shift from defensive tackle to the edge has he dropped nearly 50 pounds which is an incredible amount in less than a year. Hopefully that was intentional getting rid of bad weight rather than something else leading to severe weight loss but it completely changes what kind of role might be envisioned for him versus when he came in to the program.

There was also a mix on the edge as Sav’ell Smalls has bulked up to 265 and is more in line with what we often saw from the Chris Petersen OLB types like Ryan Bowman. If he was able to keep his speed/athleticism while putting on 15 pounds of muscle we could be ready for the breakout season we’ve wanted since he stepped foot on campus. Smalls was the only edge player that put on weight. On the other side ZTF and Lolohea each dropped between 15 and 20 pounds. During ZTF’s dominant season he was listed in camp at 280 pounds even if he never played at that weight. Now he’s at 241. We’ll find out if he’ll be able to keep up his devastating bull rush move at the lower weight.

Other Quotes/Notes