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30-Day Countdown - Day 25: Most Impactful Freshman

Which newcomer can fight their way up a loaded depth chart?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 14 Washington at Arizona State

Heading into the 2023 season, UW is set up well to make a push for the conference title and maybe even loftier goals. With the return of every draft eligible player from the 2022 squad who had remaining eligibility and a strong transfer class, DeBoer and his staff have few glaring weaknesses on the depth chart where younger players need to step up. That doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for members of this staff’s first complete recruiting class to show off their talent.

Let’s take a look at some of the candidates to make the biggest impact in 2023:

Tybo Rogers, RB

The biggest selling point for Rogers is his all-purpose skill set that should allow him to get fed touches in a variety of ways. At the HS level, Rogers was the engine that powered his offense. As a junior, Rogers racked up over 1200 yards on the ground and over 600 yards through the air, and in his injury shortened senior season he maintained that level of production to the tune of 10+ yards per carry and 19+ yards per catch through his junior and senior seasons.

He’s elusive in the open field, and he’s a tough runner in confined spaces. Pairing those traits as a rusher with his abilities as a sure-handed receiver out of the backfield, out of the slot, and out wide make Rogers a match up nightmare in Grubb’s match up focused offense.

Update: It was announced on 8/5/23 that Tybo Rogers was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules. The length of his suspension is unknown at the time of this update.

Anthony James II, EDGE

Last summer, DeBoer landed James as the first big commitment of our official visit weekend. Not only was he instrumental in our recruiting success as a recruiting surrogate among his peers, but he was also our first blue chip DL commitment since the Petersen Era. Outside of all the off-field value that James brought to the team, he’s a very good player on the field and could make an impact right off the bat. Here’s a snippet from our recruiting profile on him last year:

...The thing that stands out to me the most is his on-field awareness and disciplined rushing. In the tape that I could find, James never seems to lose track of the ball carrier while engaging blockers. Whether it’s on a simple hand off, a QB breaking the pocket, or against the option, James is always in a position to redirect his rush and hunt down the ball carrier. When he is left as the unblocked option man, he takes the one or two steps inside to squeeze the interior gaps before exploding upfield to force the issue, and sometimes even chase down the ball carrier after forcing them off their track. When you have a dominant and explosive athlete like James playing on the DL, it can sometimes be tough to rein in their natural desire to get into the backfield and create chaos (that’s why traps and screens are a thing). That’s why seeing a young DL like James play with discipline is so encouraging. It means that the game has slowed down for him mentally, and his coaches’ points are becoming second nature to him.

James should be well-positioned fundamentally and physically to push for early reps this fall.

Deven Bryant, LB

Possessing one of the more unique resumes of our incoming freshmen, Bryant may check off all the right boxes for being an immediate contributor. Despite being on the small side for a LB (5-11, 216lbs), Bryant’s never let his stature limit his production. He was a key leader and leading tackler on St. John Bosco’s #1-ranked team last year. As defenses evolve to match high-octane passing offenses, Bryant’s speed and instincts become so much more valuable than a hulking thumper from yesteryear (don’t misinterpret that, Bryant packs a punch coming downhill). In our defensive scheme, we rely heavily on LBs who can shoot gaps and stunt in blitz packages, sift and scrape through blockers against the run, and make open field chase down tackles in the flats and over the middle. All of these are Bryant’s specialty.

Bryant’s sideline to sideline agility and speed make him an eraser in the open field, and that’ll immediately provide opportunities for him on special teams. Of the little focus placed on special teams, most goes to the specialists and the returners, but Bryant’s speed, physicality, and sound open field tackling could make him an ace from day 1. On defense, we have a solid 2-deep with Ulofoshio, Tuputala, Goforth, and Bruener, but we’ve also seen Inge swap guys out for situational sub packages, and there could be an opportunity for Bryant’s speed to be utilized in passing situations.

Caleb Presley, CB

Presley was the most highly-touted local recruit to join the Huskies this past class, and it was for a good reason. The Rainier Beach product had numerous national offers as a lockdown corner with good size, agility, and ball skills. He played outside CB, slot WR, outside WR, and returner for his team, and he’s a heat-seeking missile when the ball is in the air.

With DB depth being a real concern last season, the staff overhauled the whole position group. Returning players have shuffled positions to better suit their skill sets, but there are still unsettled spots on the 2-deep. Between his ball hawking coverage and nose for the ball, Presley could provide critical depth at a number of positions, plus if he can live up to his billing in fall camp, there may be a sub package or two for him.

The 2023 UW Recruiting Class

2023 UW Freshman Class

Name Position Height Weight
Name Position Height Weight
Caleb Presley CB 6-0 177
Rashid Williams WR 6-1 185
Austin Mack QB 6-6 226
Taeshaun Lyons WR 6-1 170
Curley Reed CB 6-1 198
Deven Bryant LB 5-11 216
Vincent Holmes Safety 6-0 174
Tybo Rogers RB 5-11 185
Leroy Bryant CB 5-11 178
Diesel Gordon Safety 6-0 164
Jordan Whitney LB 6-0 216
Anthony James EDGE 6-5 272
Jacob Lane EDGE 6-5 250
Zachary Henning OL 6-5 292
Landen Hatchett OL 6-2 310
Soane Faasolo OL 6-8 290
Kahlee Tafai OL 6-5 327
Elishah Jackett OL 6-7 259
Keith Reynolds WR 5-9 177
Elinneus Davis DL 6-2 322

UWDP Writers Roundtable:

Aaron Sieverkropp: Heading into the season- which frosh due to think will make the biggest impact this year?

Coach B: Of the freshmen, I kinda set all of the DTs and OL off to the side since so few come out of HS ready to play physically. QB, LB, and DB are challenging because most have to clean up technique, learn the scheme, and there aren’t many ways to scheme up packages that can cover for their deficiencies if they aren’t fully up to speed.

In my opinion, I think it comes down to Tybo, James, or one of the WRs. I’m leaning towards saying Tybo just because of how well his skill set fits what we want to do on offense even though we are really deep at RB with the transfers. He might not get any starts, but there could be enough snaps to get him involved, although the same could be said for any of the WRs. In my experience, its easier to draw up special packages or plays for unique offensive skill players than any other position, so there’s probably a smaller hurdle for these players to clear before getting onto the field than any other members of their class.

The argument for James is that the opportunity is available. With Smalls at Colorado, we don’t have an entrenched EDGE3 and we like to run 4 or 5 deep in the rotation. James has the size and talent to be a rotational/sub package contributor right away if he picks up the scheme quickly.

Aaron: Personally- here is who I think will make the biggest impact:

On Offense I think they should give Tybo another year to bulk up and make sure he doesn’t take too many hits (lots of miles left on the tires for next season). I do agree that I think one of the wideouts will likely see some time- if I had to guess it would be Lyons just because of his size and elusiveness/playmaking.

On D I would go with either Deven Bryant- who I think at minimum will play specials and be a force. Injuries could also force him to play more. I also think one of the DB’s will likely see more playing time than we all anticipate- of those guys I think Caleb Presley has a chance to play quite a bit (not only was he here for most of spring), but he has a very very competitive nature which I think as he matures and sees more time will benefit him. Holmes is also a guy who should see some time (at minimum specials but he should be battling Nunley and Esteen for PT)

Andrew Berg: I’m very much on the same page as Aaron here. It’s hard for me to see Tybo playing much this year because the RB room is so full in front of him. Just with Johnson and Ngata battling with Davis for reps, it’s hard to see how there will be much room for a freshman to wedge his way in unless he’s a superstar prospect. I like Tybo, but I don’t see the instant impact factor with him.

And Bryant/Presley were the two guys who immediately came to mind for me on defense. Part of it is that I’m not in love with the depth at either position, but another part is that they both seem to have the instinctive playing style that could translate into early play time. I think that’s especially true for Bryant, who EVERYONE seems to think can play above his size and athleticism because he just naturally reads the game really well. That skill will play anywhere.

Which freshman do you think will make the biggest impact this year? Let us know in the poll and comment section below.


Which freshman will make the biggest impact in 2023?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Tybo Rogers
    (7 votes)
  • 13%
    Anthony James
    (29 votes)
  • 31%
    Deven Bryant
    (69 votes)
  • 40%
    Caleb Presley
    (90 votes)
  • 11%
    (25 votes)
220 votes total Vote Now