Bob Condotta profiled the 2005 class in the wake of J.R. Hasty leaving the team last week in his blog. I am following it up with a look at all the classes to give everyone an idea of just how young this team really is despite four years of rebuilding.
One thing I have been saying ever since the blog started is that you win with your third, fourth, and fifth-year players.
The Huskies are very young. They only have 30 players that fall into this experienced category.
55 of the scholarship players on the roster are in their first or second year in the program!
The future obviously started when Jake Locker entered the program, but the 2006 class is now down to only 12 players.
The thorn in Willingham's paw has been the lack of numbers from his first two recruiting classes, and of course the talent and confusion he took on from the Gilby/Neu era. Make no mistake—he did take over at the lowest point the program has ever seen.
That being said, it is year four for Ty, and all coaches know that they have to win by year four to keep their jobs, no matter what the circumstances.
If you want to point to one reason why he may not be around next season, take a good look at his first two recruiting classes. Obviously there is talent left, but the overall numbers are way too low. This team won't be mature and fully rebuilt for another couple of years.
That doesn't mean they can't win—young teams under the right coaching can win—but typically it is your older players that get you there.
Bold type indicates players who have started games at one time in their careers or are projected as starters in 2008.
2003 Recruiting Class (1) Neuheisel
C Garcia: Back for a sixth season because of injuries, and he should be ready to play after the first bye week. The prognosis on his foot right now is pretty good, which is good news for Husky fans. Expect to hear some good news regarding Juan after the 4th. Observers say the cast is off, and he is walking without a limp.
2004 Recruiting Class (10) Gilbertson
DT Kirton: Mike Bellotti recruited him as a DL. Ty recruited him as a TB, and even though after a week it was obvious it wasn't going to work, they kept him there. The move to TE seemed like a good fit, but he didn't run very good routes and had trouble blocking. Kirton is a guy to keep an eye on this summer, because if he makes the successful transition it will really help the DL.
DL O'Connor: Has never seen the field, but started the spring as the No. 1 DT beside Elisara. After a week he fell back to No. 3.
FB Kravitz: A solid No. 2 FB with a history of dings. I would like to see him catch the ball out of the backfield more in 2008. Ty wasn't happy he took off winter conditioning to go to South Africa and demoted him to No. 3.
OL Bulyca: Finally hit his stride last season as a starter but is being pushed by those behind him. He has a bit of nasty, but the coaching changes have obviously stunted some of his development. Weight is always a problem for Casey—we will see what he reports at in August.
OL White-Frisbee: JWF is ready to make an impact this season. Was an amazing DT with Emtman potential until he broke his foot. Could play on Sundays if he can stay healthy. Will be No. 1-B at one of the guard positions unless Tolar moves to center.
TE Winter: Been at LB, DE, and TE but has rarely played.
LB Tuiasosopo: Expect a solid season, as No. 1-B at MLB.
S Harris: Was the best safety left standing last season. Will be a reserve this year and provide some solid depth.
CB Forrester: Will be in the rotation at CB. Didn't look good at safety last year.
TE Gottlieb: Nobody has beaten out this former walk on, but Kavario Middleton should move past him by midseason. A solid blocker who would be a No. 3 TE for most past Husky teams, but UW has been very lucky to have him.
2005 Recruiting Class (7) Willingham
OL Rosborough: May not make an impact until year five. Very big and very agile, but something didn't click last year when he had a chance to enter the rotation.
DE Jones: After injuries slowed him down, he is now ready to be an effective starter. He played right away as a frosh MLB, redshirted the next season because of injury, and then was dinged up again last year. The only question about Darion is health.
OT Ossai: This will be his third year as a starter, but he was pushed pretty hard by Habben last year. Ben will be a fixture at tackle for the next two seasons.
LB Savannah: C'mon, put down the beer, get healthy, and stop screwing around. So much potential and way too many problems. This kid could be very good if he ever gets his head screwed on right.
LB Stevens: This utility LB is very effective when he is inserted at the right time. I think he should have been a safety, but look for him to rush the passer at times from DE. Donatell will probably play him more than Baer, and with E.J. out to start the season, he is going to get his chance.
PK Perkins: May not make it much longer because of one of the worst knee injuries of all time. Too bad because he came in with a terrific leg.
DE Teo-Nesheim: Daniel has NFL written all over him and may be the best player on the defense. He could have a good enough season to leave early. The Huskies are really counting on him to have a great season.
2006 Recruiting Class (12) Willingham
QB Locker: Can you say All American and potential Heisman Trophy winner? So much has been written about Jake—what more can you say? Like Tui, he elevates the play of those around him. Look for Jake to be markedly improved in 2008 with a full season under his belt.
FB Homer: One of the most complete FBs ever at UW—a devastating blocker and special teams demon. It must be comforting to Jake to have Homer back there protecting him.
WR Goodwin: Mr. "Go-To-Guy" in 2008! D'Andre is the only kid who proved to me he was ready to catch the ball this past spring. The Flea can make the big play, but when he runs into the likes of Patrick Chung and Taylor Mays, it could get pretty ugly.
OL Tolar: Ryan will be playing on Sundays—count on it. He also could open the season at center. A great motor and always improving.
OL Habben: Will be a full-time starter in 2008 after splitting time in 2007 with Ossai. Cody had a nice debut year and will be a solid starter for the next three years.
OL Sedillo: The center heir apparent in 2009 may start until Garcia comes back in 2008. The coaches like the way Matt is progressing.
DT Elisara: The former four-star recruit needs to start showing it in 2008. He is a workout warrior with a great attitude, but he hasn't broken out yet. Hard work usually pays off, and the team may not have a harder worker than Cameron.
DE Matthews: They moved him inside this spring, but his future is at DE. If Matthews is your starting DT, than we are going to be very small inside. Hopefully he can move back outside where he is obviously best suited, but like any kid he will play anywhere to hit the field.
LB Butler: Keep him healthy 12 games, and you have one of the Pac-10's best LBs. UW was really hurt by his injury even though Tui did a nice job filling in. He drops back better in pass coverage than Trenton.
LB Houston: This is Matt's year to get into the rotation, and he had a decent spring. He has good speed, but we really haven't seen him play much till this past spring.
CB Mosley: Started a bit last season as a RS. I am not sure if CB is his best position, but that is where he is. His grandfather is Husky great Luther Carr. Not sure how many of the Carr family have been Husky athletes, but it is probably around 20 or more! UW stole him from ASU at the last minute.
S Wells: An injury cut his season short, and the Huskies really missed him. A coaches' favorite who will likely start in 2008, but is going to face a stiff challenge from the young studs.
Snapper Morovick: He makes it a lot easier to punt and place kick—a very smart pickup by Willingham.
2007 Recruiting Class (25) Willingham
QB Fouch: He had a decent spring and enters as the No. 2 in 2008. The coaches like his makeup, and he will have plenty of time to mature behind Jake.
RB Griffin: Offensive player of the game in the spring with most of the TBs out.
SB Shaw: Converted to receiver at midseason and gave us some great glimpses of talent against OSU. Will play SB, TB, and WR in 2008.
RB Johnson: 100 yards against Cal subbing for Rankin. We all liked what he brought to the table last year, but is he durable enough to go 12 games and 30 carries per?
FB Sylvester: The heir to Paul Homer is biding his time as the No. 3 FB.
WR Aguilar: Will be in the rotation in 2008. Gatorade player of the year in Colorado. I thought he looked good in the spring game.
WR Boyles: Not ready for prime time in the spring, but his mouth was. This kid was the star of the 2007 class, but he needs work to polish the potential.
WR Logan: Will surprise in 2008 as a solid possession receiver that can lay some lumber. I think this kid will be an awesome downfield blocker. A Husky receiver that can block? Maybe I am getting ahead of myself.
TE Izbicki: He had a solid spring game and will be in the rotation in 2008 at TE. Izbicki came in with a lot of hype but needed to bulk up. He seemed to be getting it at the end of spring but needs to work on his hands.
OL Schugert: The best of the young offensive linemen. The coaches considered playing him in 2007. He has a chance to push for time in a crowded OG rotation.
OL Fancher: Will be a No. 2 OT in 2008. If Ossai or Habben go down, we are going to be real green at tackle unless they move a guard over here.
OL Armelin: Will be a No. 2 OT in 2008. Had a good RS year, and the coaches are happy with his development so far.
DT Duncan: Way too early to tell on Tyrone. He hurt his shoulder in 2007 and saw action this spring. Was starting for a bit until they moved Matthews over.
DT Wood: Way too early to tell on Nick. He was injured in 2007, and spring was really his first action. Needs some more time and was moved to DE this Spring.
DE Aldrich: Not keeping the weight on, but he has good speed and potential. We will see what he looks like in August. Don't pass the poi Kelani!
LB Dennison: Scout team player of the year. Lightly recruited kid with a great attitude.
LB Foster: Mason will be an All-American before he leaves. The best-looking Husky LB I have seen in years. He was good in 2007 and will be very good in 2008.
CB Persley: The coaches love this kid. He has great size but was pretty raw coming in. It will be interesting to watch him develop in year two. Comes from the same HS as Ronnie Fouch and Chris Polk.
CB Davenport: Will start opposite Richardson if he can stay healthy. Hamstrings seems to be a problem with him.
CB McDowell ....Started right out of the box last year way before his time. He seems to have gotten bigger, and regained his confidence this past Spring.
CB Richardson: We all thought he would grow into a LB, but his surprising speed will give him a shot at starting as a big physical corner in 2008. He won the job this past spring, but I won't be completely sold until I see him against some opposition this fall.
S Williams: The nickel back in 2007 moves into a starting role in 2008. I expect great things from Nate. He played well last season learning the ropes and had a great spring.
S Aiyewa: Mr. Nasty emerged this spring, and it will be tough for Wells to get his job back. This kid knocks the snot out of people like Patrick Chung. I think it is going to be hard to keep him on the bench even with Wells coming back healthy.
K Folk: With Perkins hurting, Folk needs to produce in 2008. He had a back injury in 2007 that cost him the season. His brother kicks for the Cowboys.
P Ballman: He had a great year punting in 2007 and can help out place kicking. He didn't look great this spring.
2008 Recruiting Class (26) Willingham
QB Blackman: A big QB prospect who sort of reminds me of Jerramy Stevens. Will RS and could be a future TE. UW will give him every chance to play QB, but he may need to mature a bit before he becomes a leader of men.
QB Leonard: A mobile QB with a cannon who is still very green. Will RS and could be a future safety. Luther is a great kid and a very good athlete. I wouldn't be surprised to see him stick at QB.
TB Bronson: The top back in the state in 2007, he will start off at TB with the potential to move to defense. UW was his only Pac-10 offer until WSU came in late in the game.
TB Freeman: Lots of speed and moves. Charles Mincy was very high on him.
TB Dailey: The coaches project him as a Richard Thomas-type FB.
TB Fogerson: I think the kid is special, real special, and I think his future is at safety.
WR Kearse: Will get a shot in 2008, but he may not be ready for prime time.
SB C. Polk: The next Reggie Bush?
WR Bruns: Has a great chance to start immediately.
WR J. Polk: Speed kills, and he will get a shot in 2008.
TE Middleton: We haven't had a kid with this type of talent since Stevens left, and I think he will be much better.
OL Thomas: Like all big guys, he needs to RS, but you have to like a snowboarding OT.
OL Schaeffer: Will be a solid cog for five years.
OL Ikehara: Will start off at center.
OL Carroll: One of the top OLs in the Bay Area.
DT Taamu: The kid is a monster and will play right away, ready or not.
DT Kelemente: The most polished of the young DLs.
DT Noble: Top Cal recruit could use a year of seasoning, but depth will force him to play right away.
DE Thompson: We are thin at DE, so look for him to jump into the rotation right away.
LB Rousel: I loved his film and am glad he made it in. If he was two inches taller, he would be at LSU.
LB Mangum: Was here this spring and has some work to do on his speed. A real big Arizona kid who was not heavily recruited.
CB Long: Fast, Fast, Fast!
CB Gobern: Another converted TB with great speed.
CB Glenn: We have been watching this guy for a few years now. He is ahead of where McDowell was last season when he started.
S Taylor: An excellent athlete who could find a home on either side of the ball.
S Walker: Was a stud LB in HS.
The kids I think that will have a chance to play in 2008
WR Bruns: He runs precise routes and has sure hands, and if there is anything that gets you on the field early, it is that type of discipline. Think of guys like Steve Largent, Paul Skansi, and Chris Juergens when you are looking for a comparison.
DT Kelemete: This kid may be one of the great ones. He has a great body and a motor that does not quit. I think he is the most polished and ready to play of the young kids. H e is extremely athletic and was an excellent wrestler. He will come in at around 290 pounds.
DE Thompson: I would like to see him RS, but numbers at DE may not let that happen. He would be equally at home at DE or TE. I would hate to see him end up like Rayford and miss his potential impact year if he has problems putting on enough weight.
DT Noble: Big bodies on defense will get a shot this year, and Craig was supposed to be one of the best in California. The DM crew is not quite convinced and thinks he needs seasoning. We will see where he is in August.
DT Ta'amu: This kid is big, very big, and he is strong, very strong, so he will play from the get-go if his feet are in order. The Huskies haven't had a true NT in quite some time, and his build fits that bill. He wasn't as dominating as you like in HS, but the tools are there. We need to see how nasty he is when he arrives.
SB C. Polk: The next Reggie Bush showed us some intriguing glimpses this spring as he was learning the offense. The coaches are counting on him to bring big play impact to the team in 2008, which means he will help fill the void left by Rankin, but also be used differently like Rodgers at OSU. UW talked Chris out of going to USC—that doesn't happen every day, or every year.
WR J. Polk: Speed kills, and Jordan has a lot of speed and the ability to make exceptional catches if you have watched his film. Ty stole him out of Portland!
TE Middleton: One of the top recruits in the nation last year at TE and DE. He should be starting at the end of the first bye week. This kid will be special if he keeps his head screwed on right.
WR Aguilar*: He took a while to qualify, but he made a decent impression this spring. I think he makes the rotation at WR since everything is wide open.
WR Boyles*: Like Aguilar, he took a while to qualify, but even though he is a year older than the rest of the frosh he may need some time to bulk up.
WR Kearse: With all the holes at WR, Jermaine will get a shot, but he probably needs a year to season. One of the top recruits in the West last year.
CB Long: Speed kills, and he may be the fastest kid on the team this fall, which means they will find a place for him to play. The coaches are grooming him for action right away, which means special teams until he is comfortable with the defense.
S Fogerson: If he sticks at TB, chances are he will not play this year. But if he moves to safety, and if there are holes to fill, he could play right away. He wasn't highly recruited if you believe the recruiting services, and not him, but he might have been the best player in the state at the end of the year. I saw a highlight film of his greatest defensive hits, and it was impressive. Willingham offered very late, but after watching him in the state championship game he could not resist.
* 2007 Class