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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

April 1, 2012 at 5:27 PM

Spring football — 10 To Watch

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With spring football beginning tomorrow, I thought I’d list 10 especially intriguing players to watch, and why. I thought initially about doing the old “position battles to watch” thing. But it seems hard to me to really define those battles right now with so much unknown about the defense, where a lot of guys who could factor in won’t arrive until the fall, and with so many injury issues. So instead for now, 10 To Watch, and in no particular order.

RB JESSE CALLIER — The junior (pictured at right in a Dean Rutz photo) figures to enter the spring atop the depth chart at tailback, given the first crack at stepping in for the departed Chris Polk. Those will be big shoes to fill with Polk leaving No. 2 on the school’s all-time rushing list in just three seasons, and the guess here is that it ends up as more of a shared-responsibility deal with Bishop Sankey and whoever else might emerge. But Callier has the most experience and now has the opportunity he’s been waiting for.

WR KASEN WILLIAMS — Williams had a more-than-productive true freshman season with 36 receptions for 427 yards. But he’ll be counted on now for a lot more than that — maybe even essentially doubling those numbers — as the Huskies look for receivers to step up to replace the departed Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar.

TE AUSTIN SEFERIAN-JENKINS — The sophomore has All-American potential, but is also coming off having just played basketball for three months. As UW coach Steve Sarkisian noted on Friday, it will be interesting to see how he responds this spring. Regardless,, he’ll be another expected to carry even more of the receiving load next fall.

OT MICAH HATCHIE — Due to injuries, a lot of the spots on the offensive line may be hard to get a read on this spring. But one that could be solidified is left tackle as Hatchie will start out at that spot, stepping in for the graduated Senio Kelemete. A good spring by Hatchie could help calm some growing anxiety about what the OL might look like in 2012.

RB ANTAVIUS SIMS — The JC transfer who signed for the Class of 2011 is now eligible and will participate this spring. He also has a new position, shifting from the CB spot he was initially slated to play to a running back-slot back type of role. He’s said to have roughly 4.4 speed and he also now has just two years to play two, so the Huskies will look for ways to get him on the field.

QB DERRICK BROWN — With Nick Montana gone, Brown — a redshirt freshman — is the only other scholarship QB on the roster for the spring. Sarkisian said Friday he could get even more snaps than starter Keith Price during spring drills as the Huskies try to get him ready to play if needed next fall.

DT DANNY SHELTON — Shelton came on strong (literally and figuratively I suppose, given his reported weightlifting prowess) at the end of 2011 and now will be asked to assume a starring role on the DL with Alameda Ta’amu gone. His progress will be key as the Huskies look to remake the entire defense.

DE JOSH SHIRLEY — The sophomore is another who came on strong at the end of the year with 6.5 of his 8.5 sacks coming in the last four games, including three in the Alamo Bowl. And he now will be asked to play an expanded role, possibly lining up in a two-point stance at times, as the Huskies look for ways to maximize his talents and reshape the defense.

LB THOMAS TUTOGI — Under the old system, Tutogi was the backup and apparent replacement for departed MLB Cort Dennison. The new 3-4 looks might change the roles a bit so Tutogi may not be stepping into the exact same spot Dennison played last year. But he figures to among the frontline LBs as spring begins and has a chance to make his case for a starting role come fall.

CB GREG DUCRE — Sarkisian highlighted the junior as one of the players who had the best off-season — he’s listed at 180 pounds now compared to the 173 of last fall. He got a lot of sometimes painful experience in 2011 but will be counted on to take a big leap in production this spring, which may be needed to fend off some of the younger players at this spot such as Marcus Peters, a redshirt freshman who also looms as a real intriguing player this spring. Ducre and Peters might be about the best true spring position battle that there will be.

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