*Not named Jake Locker.
I think we’d all agree that Locker is the most important player in the program right now for a number of reasons that have been enumerated well before.
As he goes figures to go the Huskies for as long as he stays in college.
Here, then, my list of the five most important players to this season other than Locker.
1, Roy Lewis. The secondary will remain a big question mark for this team until the season starts and the players manning those spots prove otherwise. Lewis may be the most important as he’s the senior leader of the unit, and the one cornerback on the roster who has proven ability. (Byron Davenport ranks high on this list, as well, and he may be the most important incoming position player UW has).
2, Greyson Gunheim. The Huskies will need big performances from the front seven to take some of the pressure off the secondary, especially early in the year while the back four gets its collective feet wet. Gunheim has the potential to be an All-Conference player (he will represent UW at Pac-10 Media Day on Thursday) and UW needs him to play to that level, most notably in getting consistent pressure on the opposing QB.
3, Louis Rankin. It’s nice to be excited about all the young talent UW has coming in at the running back spot — it’s part of what makes this time of year fun. But I think the best-case scenario is for Rankin to grab this position and not let go and finally fulfill all the potential that he has been shown only in flashes so far. The Huskies haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Rashaan Shehee since 1997, and it’s no coincidence the way the team has struggled since then, as well. Most good teams generally have one back they know they can turn to and UW has to find that somewhere. The most logical place is Rankin.
4a and 4b, Whoever wins the two guard spots. These may be the two most interesting battles of fall camp as Morgan Rosborough and Jordan White-Frisbee battle it out at left guard and Casey Bulyca and Ryan Tolar competing on the right side. Maybe this entry should be above the one on Rankin since RBs are obviously heavily dependent on their line. But in this case, I think getting a good performance from a fifth-year senior in the backfield could go a long way toward making the line look better, as well. I’m figuring the Huskies are likely to rotate players at these spots more than a year ago, when Stanley Daniels and Clay Walker took almost every snap.
5, Erik Folk. Or whoever wins the kicking job, though Folk is assumed to be the one. This is a Husky team that will have to take advantage of every scoring opportunity it has, especially early in the year. It also needs to begin developing a sense of being able to win games on special teams. All of the kicking teams are in flux as camp gets ready to begin, and the punting position could be part of this ranking, as well.
I’d love to see your thoughts on who you think are the five most important players this season.
COMMENT ON BOWL GAME COMMENTS: In response to yesterday’s post on the Pac-10 announcing some new bowl game arrangements, a few of you wondered why the conference doesn’t have any deals with the SEC, and also doesn’t have a better deal for its No. 2 team.
Here are a couple of my thoughts on that:
1, SEC teams don’t really want to travel far from their home base for bowl games, so getting a bowl pairing would mean the Pac-10 would have to make a deal with a bowl in the South. There have apparently been some talks along those lines through the years, but the reality is that those bowls aren’t too interested in Pac-10 teams. A lot of Pac-10 teams don’t travel real well, including some of the bigger names (such as UCLA) that might be attractive for TV purposes but aren’t when it comes to selling tickets. Most of those bowls figure they are better off with matchups that make more sense regionally.
2, I think the Holiday Bowl is really underrated by fans. It tends to have a real good TV time slot that draws solid ratings (and hence, good visibility for whatever Pac-10 team is in the bowl). Players tend to really like going there. And being paired with the Big 12 has meant a lot of good matchups through the years that have put the conference in good light (Oregon and WSU each beating Texas, for instance). What also can’t be ignored is what I mentioned above — because Pac-10 teams don’t really travel well overall, most bowls outside of the West or Rocky Mountain areas aren’t that interested in making a deal with the conference. That leaves the Pac-10 a limited menu of bowls to choose from. Like almost everything, it mostly comes down to money.
*Not named Jake Locker.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.