A position-by-position analysis of the 2015 Washington Huskies roster before national signing day on Feb. 4. Today: Offensive line. Wednesday: Defensive line.
2014 review: The Huskies had one of the nation’s most experienced lines in 2014, with all five starters returning intact and more than 120 starts between them. Injuries took a toll: Senior right tackle Ben Riva missed most of September with a knee injury then injured his ankle on the first offensive snap at California on Oct. 11. He never returned to the starting lineup, with redshirt freshman Coleman Shelton starting seven games and then James Atoe the final five at right tackle. Dexter Charles, coming off two shoulder surgeries in the offseason, missed a month with an apparent foot injury. The interruptions continued in November when first-year senior center Colin Tanigawa, UW’s most valuable lineman, suddenly had trouble snapping the ball, prompting a call to senior Mike Criste back a center for the final three games. Overall, the line’s instability and general inconsistencies were a significant factor in the Huskies’ offensive woes in 2014. Against five ranked teams, UW averaged 3.9 yards per carry and combined for just five rushing touchdowns; against the other nine opponents, UW averaged nearly 4.9 yards per carry with 17 rushing touchdowns. As noted early in the season, part of that can be attributed to the new offensive system and the new coaching staff’s emphasis on the finer details. Linemen, for example, spent more time on hand technique and foot placement than they had in the past, so there seemed to be more thinking early in the season and less reacting, playing and having fun. The offense had a much better flow over the final three games of the regular season, and the line deserves credit for allowing just 28 sacks in 14 games. That’s a good number. Early in the season, though, the veteran line wasn’t able to do enough in the run game to take pressure off an inexperienced quarterback.
For the record: The Huskies haven’t had an all-Pac-12 linemen since Kyle Benn in 2001.
— James Atoe, 6-7, 381
— Mike Criste, 6-6, 316
— Micah Hatchie, 6-5, 306
— Ben Riva, 6-7, 313
— Colin Tanigawa, 6-3, 292
— Henry Roberts*, 6-5, 270, Bellevue HS
— Trey Adams*, 6-7, 270, Wenatchee HS
— Jared Hilbers*, 6-7, 275, Beaverton HS (Beaverton, Ore.)
— Devin Burleson**, fr., 6-8, 300, Highland HS (Palmdale, Calif.)
Current roster (note that heights/weights are approximate):
— Shane Brostek, jr., 6-4, 283
— Dexter Charles, sr., 6-5, 311
— Dane Crane, so., 6-3, 301
— Ross Dolbec, sr., 6-5, 313
— Jake Eldrenkamp, jr., 6-5, 292
— Cory Fuavai, jr., 6-3, 318
— Matt James, r-fr., 6-4, 258
— Andrew Kirkland, so., 6-4, 315
— Michael Kneip, jr., 6-5, 301
— Morgan Richey, r-fr., 6-4, 280
— Coleman Shelton, so., 6-4, 281
— Jesse Sosebee, r-fr., 6-5, 317
— Siosifa Tufunga, sr., 6-3, 321
— John Turner, r-fr., 6-3, 273
2015 outlook: The team’s biggest question marks this offseason center on the offensive line. Siosifa Tufunga, entering his senior season, is the only Cactus Bowl starter returning, though three-year starter Dexter Charles (who missed the bowl game because of a reported academic issue) will be back for his senior season, too. Feel free to pencil them in at the two guard spots, though Tufunga might be asked to play some center, too. And, as coaches will say, it is a competition everywhere; all jobs will be open in the spring and there is good depth throughout the line to make it almost futile to predict who winds up where to start at Boise State in September. Jake Eldrenkamp, the Bellevue product, is the favorite to take over at left tackle, and Dane Crane should be firmly in the mix at center. Coleman Shelton, after an up-and-down debut season, is also a contender to retake the right tackle job. … Shane Brostek, after redshirting during his third year on campus, is also an intriguing possibility at guard. … Kaleb McGary shifted over from the D-line during December, but he’s likely another year away from serious playing time. Devin Burleson, after grayshirting, has been viewed as a project after playing most basketball in high school. He reported for classes at UW two weeks ago and added quite a bit of weight over the past year, I’m told. That was almost certainly the goal for his 6-foot-8 frame. … Among the incoming freshmen, Bellevue’s Henry Roberts is the most touted among the recruiting sites, but I’ve heard good things about Wenatchee’s Trey Adams, who might be UW’s most underrated recruit in this class.
*Has committed to sign with UW on Feb. 4.
**Grayshirted last season after signing with UW as part of 2014 class.