We’ll continue our review of the Huskies by position groups during their break in spring practice with a look at the defensive backs.
As always, first a look at an unofficial depth chart (which means it’s not the official one but what it has looked like in the viewpoint of yours truly, and also as always, subject — and likely — to change):
Greg Ducre, 5-10, 177, Sr.
Travell Dixon, 6-1, 190, Jr.
Darien Washington, 5-10, 162, RFr.
Marcus Peters, 5-11,, 194, So.
Cleveland Wallace, 5-11, 165, RFr.
Sean Parker, 5-10, 190, Sr.
Taz Stevenson, 6-1, 215, Sr. OR
Tre Watson, 5-9, 183, Sr.
Thomas Vincent, 6-0, 201, So.
Will Shamburger, 6-0, 185, Sr.
Trevor Walker, 5-11, 180, Fr.
Brandon Beaver, 6-0, 181, RFr.
The secondary can be perceived to be one of the more unsettled areas on the UW defense with the departures of starting cornerback Desmond Trufant and free safety Justin Glenn.
Through the first six practices of the spring, though, some order was being restored as three starting spots seem pretty well set — Ducre and Peters at the corners and Parker at strong safety. Parker has been a starter the past two years and will be one of the team’s main leaders this season. Peters (pictured above breaking up a pass in the Las Vegas Bowl in a Dean Rutz photo) emerged as a starter midway through last season and UW coaches hope he is on the verge of a breakout season in 2013. Ducre was a starter for much of 2011 and after an up-and-down 2012, has re-emerged as a starter again this spring (here’s a story on him from earlier this month with some details).
Much of the rest of the secondary, though, remains a jumble.
The free safety spot may be the most competitive on the team, with coaches saying several times they expect that competition to last deep into fall camp. Shamburger, a fifth-year senior, has usually run with the starting unit. But Walker has gotten some significant time there (and displayed some early impressive flashes, including one practice with two interceptions) and it’s expected Beaver will also get looks there once he gets into full action when spring practice resumes (he was limited in the first session with a sports hernia condition).
Veterans such as Watson and Stevenson are also getting looks at safety, and could end up either adding depth or competing for the starting free safety spot — those are fairly interchangeable positions and other than Parker starting at strong safety, all of the other guys listed at safety could end up at either spot. Peters has even gotten a few reps at safety as the Huskies experiment with how to get the best foursome on the field in the secondary.
Wallace and Dixon have pretty consistently run as the backup corners, and that’s a spot that will get a pretty hefty infusion of talent in the fall when three Class of 2013 signees arrive, including highly-touted Jermaine Kelly, who on paper is the most likely of the trio to play immediately. Dixon is obviously intriguing given his background of having signed with Alabama in 2012 before transferring in August and landing at UW. As noted, so far he has consistently worked with the No. 2 defense with Ducre and Peters appearing pretty solid as the starters in the early going.
But UW, like every defense these days, needs as much depth as it can get to combat the steady stream of up-tempo offenses it will face this season, so the task during spring and fall camp is not just about identifying starters but getting as many players ready to play as possible.