As the Huskies start preparing for their upcoming bowl game, Washington fans should feel proud knowing the amazing turnaround that Steve Sarkisian has brought to a team that went 0-12 the season before he was hired.
In a couple of years he has brought the team to 7-5 and has developed players to be rated as some of the best in the country, as proven by first round draft pick Jake Locker.
There were a lot of questions coming in on how the team would do, but now that the regular season is over, let us look at who really stood out this season.
A significant drop off from last year for Kearse, but his consistently in games and leadership helped significantly with the smooth transition with Price taking over at quarterback.
Serving as the backup running back Callier was still extremely valuable to the team this year. Serving many roles all over the field, Callier was always good for a big play and a quick burst of speed when the Huskies needed it this season.
No one expected a true freshmen to have such a great impact, especially at the tight end position. Seferian-Jenkins has revived the tight end position at Washington this year catching a team tying high of six touchdowns, as well as the third most receiving yards on the team with 479.
Those stats earned him third on the schools list for most receiving yards in a season for tight end and is tied for fourth in career touchdown receptions for a tight end. Look for him to be shattering records as soon as next season.
Coming into the season as the expected savior with the departure of Jake Locker, Polk certainly did not disappoint. Rushing for his third consecutive 1,000 yard season, Polk has definitely put his name in the conversation for the greatest running back in school history. This season he rushed for 1,341 yards and 11 touchdowns, while catching a career high of 29 catches for 324 yards and four touchdowns.
No doubt that all Washington fans would love for him to stick around for his senior year, but there is no doubt that he has accomplished enough to secure himself as a high draft pick if he were to declare next year.
The real surprise of the season no doubt has been the emergence of Keith Price. Named the official starter after the spring game, Price took the role and never looked back.
This year he wowed the entire country with the impressive numbers that he put up as his first year as the starter—not counting last year against Oregon replacing the injured Jake Locker. Price passed for 2,625 yards and a school single season record of 29 touchdowns. His astounding 67.4 percent completion rating is even more impressive since he missed a game this season and was hobbled nearly the entire season with knee injuries and getting sacked 26 times.
Price is no doubt the future of this football team, with or without the help of Chris Polk next year. If Polk returns, look for that dynamic duo to lead Washington into the top 25 as well as a legitimate shot at winning the Pac-12 title.
A team high for interceptions is very impressive, especially for a safety. Parker had some early struggles, but really asserted his dominance by also being second on the team in tackles with 76.
Just imagine if Shirley had started games this season. He rotated in behind upperclassmen, but when he was in he was a force. He may have been twelfth on the team in tackles, but he was a force in the backfield with a team high of 5.5 sacks and 10 tackles for a loss.
Look for Shirley to be a starter next season and be one of the lead tacklers on the team and the whole conference next year.
Trufant started the season very strong, with an interception in the first two games, but seemed to fade a little toward the end. There is no doubt however that he is the best corner on the team and managed to shut down some of the NCAA’s best receivers.
The biggest panic besides the quarterback competition this year for the Huskies was how would our linebacking core look like with the departure of Victor Aiyewa and Mason Foster—who was second in the nation with tackles. Cort Dennison took on the leadership role without fear this year and led the team and the entire Pac-12 in tackles and was named second team all Pac-12
Dennison may not get the recognition he deserves by the NFL and its scouts, but he is exactly what the Huskies needed this season—stability and leadership.
The most disruptive player on the defensive side of the ball, Ta’amu was a force. He may never put up the numbers, but he clogs run lanes better than any other defensive tackle in college. He was second on the team with 3.5 sacks, which is still rather impressive for a defensive tackle.
Ta’amu had been in a slump coming into the Apple Cup, with his draft stock dropping very quickly. In the game though he proved that he deserves to be a first round draft pick by posting two solo sacks and seven tackles and was breaking through the offensive line nearly every play.
Taking over on punt returns, Williams may not have gotten a high average, but he was consistent and never muffed.
Smith has been very effective in using his speed on kickoffs. He averaged nearly 26 yards a return, which is third in the Pac-12
The only reason the Rasp was not selected as MVP was because the punter is not as crucial as other positions. Averaging 45 yards a punt, Rasp is the ninth overall in the nation.
Folk kicked less field goals this year than any other in his career, but his accuracy was at his career high too, at 73.3 percent and was perfect on extra points.
Folk never was needed to be clutch this year unlike in years past, but he did his job and did it well. It is going to be a little scary at first having both him and Rasp graduating after the season.