Losing players to graduation is always a scary thing for college football programs; but for the Washington Huskies, it's downright terrifying.
A program that has only recently begun its climb back up the Pac-12 ranks after a winless season in 2009; there are many key players who have made that miracle possible and will leave the school as graduates.
Here is a list of the players Washington will be hard pressed to replace come 2012.
Linebacker Cort Dennison is as crucial to the Washington defense as roots are for a tree. He has constantly kept the defense from being completely steamrolled by opposing teams and seems to be the foundation that everyone looks to hold up a shaky defense.
With a total of 113 tackles this year (10 more than anyone in the conference), Dennison is leaving a gaping hole in the Washington defense.
If losing Cort Dennison wasn’t enough, the Dawgs lose defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu, too.
He may not be the flashiest player on the field; but with a respectable 107 career tackles, Ta’amu is a key play-breaker who Washington has depended on.
Despite having a slightly off-year with only 501 (just half of his 1,005 from last year), wide receiver Jermaine Kearse has been indispensable in getting a shoddy Washington team back to winning seasons and bowl games.
With 2,673 career receiving yards, Kearse has been a vital outlet for the likes of Jake Locker and Keith Price. And finding good hands like his will be a challenge.
Jermaine Kearse wasn’t the only one putting up impressive numbers. With 1,712 career receiving yards, Aguilar was a good set of hands to have at the Dawgs' disposal.
A reliable secondary receiver, Aguilar caught a pass in every single game this year, making him a key loss to the Dawgs' program—Washington will miss his 126 career receptions.
Special teams play is one third of the game, because field position plays such an important role. Punter Kiel Rasp has been outstanding the last two years, averaging over 44 yards per punt.
You might be seeing him punt on Sundays next year, but the Huskies will certainly miss Rasp’s punts on Saturdays.
USC is breathing a sigh of relief now that Erik Folk (aka “SC killer”) is moving on. Their probably helping him pack his suitcase.
His two game-winning field goals still haunt the collective SC psyche and have forever ingrained him as a Husky Folk legend.
It isn’t easy to say no to the NFL. Jake Locker set the precedent by unexpectedly staying for his senior year, but Polk has yet to decide his own fate for 2012.
Where do I start with Chris Polk?
It’s not just his near-4,000 career rushing yards, or his 29 touchdowns—while those are gaudy, they don’t tell the whole story. His contributions go far beyond statistics. He is the heart and soul of this Husky team.
His attitude, toughness and leadership help define the Husky team, and he will be the most difficult hole to fill.
Its never easy to watch such outstanding players leave a program, but as they say people move on to bigger and better things.
All Husky fans can do now is wish these players well and hope they make Sundays worth watching.
If I hear one more thing about Ndamukong Suh.