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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 4, 2009 at 9:18 PM

Position preview — receivers and tight ends

We’ll continue with our fourth installment of position previews by looking at the receivers and tight ends.
PROJECTED PRE-CAMP DEPTH CHART
WIDE RECEIVER
Starter — D’Andre Goodwin Jr.
Backup — Jordan Polk, So.
Starter — Jermaine Kearse, So.
Backup — Anthony Boyles, RFr.
Starter — Devin Aguilar, So.
Backup — Cody Bruns, So.
BIGGEST QUESTION? How quickly can all of the apparent talent at this position mature?
There’s a lot of fairly highly recruited guys here — and not on the two-deep is true frosh James Johnson, who by all accounts picked things up pretty quickly during the summer voluntary sessions; and redshirt frosh Luther Leonard and Vince Taylor, who each appear to have the physical tools to make an impact at some point down the road.
UW’s been down this road before, however. The much-discussed receiving group from the Class of 2003 for years seemed to tease fans but never really came together the way everyone hoped.
The good news for this season is that Goodwin, Kearse and Aguilar all got significant experience last season, Goodwin ranking among the leaders in the conference with 60 catches, the most for any UW receiver since Reggie Williams. And with Goodwin ailing much of the spring, Kearse became the go-to guy, seeming to have a knack for making big plays.
But as with every part of this team, in the wake of an 0-12 season, the trick now is not just to put up some numbers — somebody had to catch some passes for UW last season — but to make winning plays. To get open when the other team is really trying to stop you. That’s the next step this group now has to take, and that’s a step that will also go a long way toward determining just how good of a season Jake Locker will have — he can’t complete passes to receivers that aren’t open.
To answer one question about the way the depth chart is written, obviously UW will not always go with three WRs — maybe not even the majority of the time. And UW coaches view the receiver positions as pretty interchangeable. Obviously, some guys may be better as slot receivers than outside, and will play more at one spot or the other. But UW coaches say they want their WRs to be versatile and able to move inside or out as matchups and situations dictate. So you’re likely to continue to just see guys listed as WRs.
COMFORT LEVEL 5. There seems to be ability and a decent amount of depth here, particularly if guys like Bruns and Johnson make a move into the rotation. But like just about every part of this team, there’s also a lot that’s still unproven. How quickly can Boyles begin to fulfill all of his seeming potential? How much more can Goodwin, Kearse and Aguilar — who combined for 100 catches last season — improve that production, particularly if the Huskies are in more close games and there isn’t as much mop-up duty? So color this another spot that it makes all the sense in the world will get a lot better. But until you see just how much, hard to really know for sure.
PROJECTED PRE-CAMP DEPTH CHART
TIGHT END
Starter — Chris Izbicki, So.
Backup — Kavario Middleton, So.
BIGGEST QUESTION — Is this position ready to handle an increased workload?
As we’ve written before, USC used the TE a lot while Sarkisian was the offensive coordinator. Fred Davis caught 117 passes in his four years at USC, ending his career in 2007, 22 more than any TE in history at UW, a school with a pretty good tradition at that position. So if Izbicki and Middleton — as well as JC transfer Dorson Boyce, the newcomer who seems most likely to work his way into significant playing time — can show they are worthy of getting a lot of passes thrown their way, they’ll likely get the call.
Izbicki was No. 1 on the depth chart coming out of spring having been more consistent than Middleton, who battled some minor illness and injuries and seemed to take a little more time to find his way in the new offense. But the questions over who wins the job I think sometimes miss the point — both are likely to play a lot, and once they do, then it will all be about production on the field
COMFORT LEVEL — 5. Another spot filled with highly-touted players — Izbicki (2007) and Middleton (2008) were essentially the two highest-rated recruits in their respective classes. So with each now having had some time to mature physically — and for Izbicki, to work his way out of the dog house of the previous coaching staff — this is another spot it’s logical to assume there could be some massive improvement. But depth is a concern, one reason the staff signed Boyce and also two other HS recruits who could end up at this spot.

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