Washington’s first spring practice is a week away, and today I’m taking a look at a handful of breakout candidates who could figure into UW’s 2014 fall plans. A note on the criteria: Only freshmen and sophomores with limited playing experience were considered, and an endorsement from this sportswriter hardly guarantees them anything with the new UW coaching staff. These are just some of the guys I’m especially interested in seeing this spring:
JEFF LINDQUIST and TROY WILLIAMS, quarterbacks: With the uncertainty surrounding the suspended Cyler Miles — the overwhelming favorite to assume the starting quarterback job next fall — Lindquist and Williams are sure to get every opportunity to prove themselves this spring. Lindquist, the 6-foot-3, 236-pound sophomore from Mercer Island, has the big arm and an extra year of experience; Williams, a 6-2, 200-pound redshirt freshman from Los Angeles, has the quick release and quick feet to be a dynamic dual-threat.
DWAYNE WASHINGTON, sophomore running back: The most established of anyone on this list, Washington is an early front-runner to take over for Bishop Sankey as the featured running back. Washington, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound converted wide receiver, showed bursts in limited carries last season, and he has the combination of size, speed and strength that should carry well as a Pac-12 regular. He had his best game in the 69-27 rout at Oregon State, with 141 yards on 11 carries, including touchdown runs of 32 and 71 yards. On the season, he averaged 7.06 yards on his 47 carries.
DARRELL DANIELS, sophomore tight end: Daniels arrived on campus last summer as one of three big-time wide receiver prospects, along with John Ross and Damore’ea Stringfellow. Daniels has terrific size and strength (6-4, 232) and good-enough hands, but it was apparent in fall camp that he was a distant third among the young receivers. Then midway though the season Daniels was switched to tight end, and it seems he’ll be there to stay. He’s part of a crowded but mostly unproven group trying to replace Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
MARCUS FARRIA, sophomore defensive end: Farria, listed at 6-5 235 pounds, has as much upside as anyone on this list. In just six games last season, he had 2.5 sacks and one fumble recovery. And while UW returns its starting defensive line intact, there’s always room for a quality quarterback hunter.
AZEEM VICTOR, redshirt freshman linebacker: The Huskies need to establish some quality depth at linebacker, and watch for Victor to emerge as the No. 1 reserve at middle linebacker and John Timu’s heir apparent. Victor (6-4, 232) was the Brian Stapp Special Teams Scout Squad MVP last fall.
JERMAINE KELLY, redshirt freshman cornerback: Listed at 6 feet 2, 183 pounds, Kelly is a former four-star recruit who impressed UW coaches enough last fall that he nearly played as a true freshman. They could’ve used him late in the season, but opted to save his redshirt while Ross played both ways. Kelly was named UW’s Mark Drennan Defensive Scout Squad MVP, and he’s first in line to replace Greg Ducre as the starting corner opposite Marcus Peters.