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Transfer Portal Priority List- Offense

Taking a look at which positions are the most important to add to via the transfer portal this offseason

Washington v USC Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

We are officially one week away from the official opening of the transfer portal in college football which will be up and running on Monday, December 4th. The team should be entirely focused on their game against Oregon on Friday. And in an ideal world you’d want the coaching staff to put 100% of their energy into that game as well. Unfortunately, that’s not how the real world works.

Players may not be able to officially enter the portal until Monday but they can start reaching out to schools through back channels about their future intentions whenever they’d like. The Husky coaching staff have already issued a few offers to FCS players that have entered the portal with their regular seasons over and you will hear plenty of “intends to enter” talk over the next few days.

With all that in mind, here’s a look at what positions may be of particular importance when trying to build a competitive roster in 2024. Make sure to bookmark my transfer portal rankings right here which I’ll update as throughout the next month. I’ll also have at least a few transfer portal tracker articles over the coming weeks looking at specific targets once we see who is officially in the portal.

Quarterback

Out of Eligibility: Michael Penix Jr.

Projected Draft Departure: None

Projected 2024 Depth Chart: Dylan Morris (Rs Sr), Austin Mack (Rs Fr), William Haskell (Rs So), Dermaricus Davis (Fr)

We start out with what will surely be the biggest debate of the offseason among the Husky fanbase. The Dawgs lose Michael Penix Jr. after he put up two of the biggest seasons in Washington history at the quarterback position. It will be impossible to be able to just plug and play and expect someone else to be a potential Heisman finalist.

The question is whether Dylan Morris is going to be a better option than whoever they can get from the portal. Many Husky fans have already decided that Morris is not the guy after he started two seasons with Jon Donovan as his offensive coordinator. Given how well every piece of that offense has looked when given a shot under DeBoer, I think it’s fair to say that he would be much better if handed the keys now.

We’ve only gotten to see 32 passes from Morris under DeBoer, usually working with the backups in blowout victories. He has completed 18/30 passes for 376 yards (12.5 YPA) with 2 TDs and 2 INTs (one of the INTs was a dropped touchdown that was then intercepted on the rebound so I think it’s fairer to say 3 TDs and 1 INT). Whether Washington goes to the portal here likely depends on the quality of the starter they can get. If you get a proven all-conference type performer? Go for it. If it’s a former 4-star who hasn’t gotten many opportunities? I don’t know that it’s worth bringing them in.

Need for Instant Starter: 7 of 10

Need for Backup: 2 of 10

Running Back

Out of Eligibility: Richard Newton

Projected Draft Departure: Dillon Johnson

Projected Depth Chart: Cam Davis (Rs Sr), Tybo Rogers (So), Will Nixon (Rs Sr), Daniyel Ngata (Sr)

I’m generally of the mindset to expect a running back to leave for the draft when they have the chance given their relatively short professional shelf lives. Especially one like Johnson who already has a child for whom to provide. He may come back but I’m expecting him to be one and done right now.

How we feel about the depth here likely depends on the injury recovery of Cam Davis. The Husky coaching staff has never revealed exactly what Davis’ injury was but it occurred before the season started. Unless it was a truly disastrous injury, these days you can usually expect most players to be healthy by one year after the event. Although the running back position requires a lot of agility which is often the last thing to return. Given that Davis was viewed as the surefire #1 ahead of Johnson before the year started, a healthy Davis likely reclaims starter status.

There’s also good depth at this point behind Davis if no one opts to transfer. Rogers and Nixon were both productive when in the game this season and Rogers slowly usurped playing time from Nixon as the year went on. Ngata has primarily made his impact felt as a kick returner but has a track record of success as a backup in the Pac-12 at Arizona State.

If Davis is a question mark and there’s a chance to get another Dillon Johnson then you do it. Otherwise, I feel pretty good about this group going into the start of portal season.

Need for Instant Starter: 3 of 10

Need for Backup: 2 of 10

Wide Receiver

Out of Eligibility: None

Projected Draft Departures: Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk, Jalen McMillan

Projected Depth Chart: Germie Bernard (Jr), Giles Jackson (Rs Sr), Denzel Boston (Rs So), Rashid Williams (Rs Fr), Taeshaun Lyons (Rs Fr), Keith Reynolds (Rs Fr)

Coming into the season it seemed a given that Odunze and McMillan would be off to the NFL and Polk would have a chance to come back and be the featured guy. Instead, McMillan battled through injuries all year and it was Polk who looks to have higher draft value. Although a pair of goose eggs in the last two games might make him rethink that. It’s not impossible that McMillan decides to come back and show off how he performs when fully healthy. But for now I’m assuming he departs as well.

If that’s the case, then Washington badly needs to add a premier player at the position. Getting Giles Jackson through the season while preserving his redshirt was huge for depth. Germie Bernard has looked at times like a future star. Otherwise, this is an entirely unproven group. Denzel Boston has gotten a lot of hype from the coaching staff but finished the regular season with just 5 catches for 51 yards despite all of UW’s injuries at the position.

You would think that if there’s one position where an absolute stud in the portal would be dying to come to Washington, it would be at wide receiver. Expect the Huskies to be in on any of the top names in the portal and to be willing to back it up with NIL dollars. So far they’ve offered a D-III receiver.

Need for Instant Starter: 9 of 10

Need for Backup: 4 of 10

Tight End

Out of Eligibility: Jack Westover, Devin Culp

Projected Draft Departure: None

Projected Depth Chart: Josh Cuevas (Rs Jr), Quentin Moore (Rs Sr), Ryan Otton (Rs So), Decker DeGraaf (Fr)

It won’t be easy to replace the tight end duo of Westover and Culp. Each of them made numerous clutch catches to help the Huskies to victories in close games this year.

Washington looks to be in okay shape though. Josh Cuevas was brought in to be the next receiving threat and he had multiple long catch and runs this season averaging a ridiculous 41 yards per reception. He seems poised to break out as the primary receiving threat from the tight end position next year. Quentin Moore has played a lot in recent years primarily as a blocker and I’d expect that to continue next season.

It’s reasonable to question what happens with that 3rd tight end spot. Former 4-star Ryan Otton has barely seen the field through 2 years and has battled injuries at times. It would be great if he could step up. If the coaching staff doesn’t think he’s ready to play more minutes then they either need to bring in a transfer or rely on true freshman Decker DeGraaf.

Need for Instant Starter: 3 of 10

Need for Backup: 8 of 10

Offensive Tackle

Out of Eligibility: None

Projected Draft Departures: Troy Fautanu, Roger Rosengarten

Projected Depth Chart: Jalen Klemm (Rs So)/Samuel Peacock (Rs Jr), Robert Wyrsch (Rs Jr)/Zach Henning (Rs Fr), Elishah Jackett (Rs Fr)/Kahlee Tafai (Rs Fr)

This is another position where draft decisions make a big difference in how we view the position going into next year. It seems a foregone conclusion that Fautanu will jump to the NFL as it is almost universal at this point that he will be the top rated guard in the draft (most view him as a future NFL guard even though he plays tackle at UW). The question is will Roger Rosengarten join him? Rosengarten is a year younger and it’s possible he could raise his draft stock flipping sides and showing he can excel playing LT as well. Although he has been the blindside protector for lefty Michael Penix already.

If Rosengarten does leave then it would make folks breathe much easier if they also bring in a tackle with power conference starting experience. Even if Rosengarten does come back, it would still be great to bring in an experienced starter on the other side of the line. Jalen Klemm came in later through the portal this past spring but has 44 career snaps at this point. Peacock also has 44 career snaps (the same 44 snaps in backup duty this year). You can’t go into next year with the two of them starting even if the coaches love the potential of each.

There’s also the chance that the coaches move one of Nate Kalepo or Julius Buelow outside next year to plug one of those holes given the interior seems deeper but it still isn’t ideal.

Need for Instant Starter: 10 of 10

Need for Backup: 4 of 10

Interior Offensive Line

Out of Eligibility: Matteo Mele*

Projected Draft Departure: None

Projected Depth Chart: Nate Kalepo (Rs Sr)/Parker Brailsford (So)/Julius Buelow (Rs Sr), Geirean Hatchett (Rs Jr)/Landen Hatchett (So)/Gaard Memmelaar (Rs Jr)

Washington is projected to return all 3 of their current starters along the interior offensive line after losing all of them the previous offseason. There is a potential question mark given the eligibility of Matteo Mele. He could seemingly apply for another year of eligibility if he wanted given that he only in 2 games before suffering a season-ending injury. Should Mele return, it would make sense to go back to the starting alignment from the preseason and potentially bump Buelow (or Kalepo) back outside to tackle. But Mele walked at senior day and a waiver isn’t a given so it’s best to assume he’s not coming back.

The injuries to Mele and Buelow helped build up the depth a little bit by giving the Hatchett brothers playing time opportunities. Both of them will at the very least be key reserves and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either one win a battle to earn a starting spot. The coaching staff was also high on Gaard Memmelaar before he went down with an injury during the offseason. There’s enough experienced depth here that Washington should be fine even if one of the players is kicked outside to help secure the line there.

Need for Instant Starter: 2 of 10

Need for Backup: 5 of 10

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Biggest Offensive Transfer Needs In Order:

Offensive Tackle Starter (10)

Wide Receiver Starter (9)

Backup Tight End (8)

Quarterback Starter (7)

Interior Offensive Line Backup (5)

Offensive Tackle Backup (4)

Wide Receiver Backup (4)

Tight End Starter (3)

Running Back Starter (3)

Quarterback Backup (2)

Interior Offensive Line Starter (2)

Running Back Backup (2)