In 2014, eight true freshmen played for the Huskies. Here are five candidates from the 2015 recruiting class who could contribute this fall:
BENNING POTOA’E, DE, 6-3, 265, DuPont, Wash; Lakes HS
The state’s top-ranked recruit physically looks ready to step in and offer depth on a defensive line that is losing all four starters from 2014. Potoa’e resembles Hau’oli Kikaha, and they have trained together, and he will come in at the hybrid “buck” end/linebacker position that Kikaha played this past fall.
KYLER MANU, LB, 6-1, 224, Pocatello, Idaho; Highland HS
UW coaches have known about the “Buck Freak,” as Manu’s Twitter handle describes, going back to their days at Boise State. Manu is one of five linebackers the Huskies signed in this class (plus Potoa’e and Bryce Sterk, who will also play some buck). And no only does Manu fill an immediate need at outside linebacker, he also plans to graduate high school early and enroll in time for the start of spring practices, which should give him a leg up heading into next fall. UW coach Chris Petersen: “Really good student. Really good family. You put on the tape, he runs around. We’ve been around him enough to know he’s the athletic-type guy we’re looking for.”
ISAIAH RENFRO, 6-1, 185, Los Angeles; Sierra Canyon HS
Receiver often is a spot where a young guy can come in immediately offer some help — as Dante Pettis and Brayden Lenius did for UW in 2014 — and with Kasen Williams, DiAndre Campbell and Kendyl Taylor gone, the Huskies probably need a couple more true freshmen to step in right away. Renfro, who offers a nice combination of size and speed from the outside, has a chance to be one of those early contributors.
CHICO McCLATCHER, WR, 5-8, 180, Federal Way; Federal Way HS
McClatcher figures to be one of the fastest players on the team, and it’s easy to envision him playing behind Jaydon Mickens in the slot for a year, with the idea that he takes over that role full-time in 2016. McClatcher accounted for more than 8,000 all-purpose yards and scored 91 total TDs for Federal Way, and his versatility as a returner game should also translate right away for UW.
AUSTIN JOYNER, 5-10, 192, Marysville; Marysville-Pilchuck HS
Joyner might have the most upside of anyone in this recruiting class. Another versatile, three-way player who could jump right in as a kickoff returner while also providing depth at cornerback. Joyner’s presence could also give the Huskies the option of moving John Ross III back to receiver at some point. Joyner was also a star running back at Marysville-Pilchuck; Petersen wanted to see Joyner backpedal in person before offering him as a cornerback, and the UW coach got that chance during a summer camp. “It took about 25 seconds to know he can play where he wants to play,” Petersen said. “ … The number-one thing that Austin has going for him that really jumps out – a lot of people would say his versatility, his athleticism, but to me the thing that jumps out is his competitive spirit. I think he’s got the heart of a lion, and he’s not going to back down. That’s the thing that gets us excited about him. We need more of that around here. I can’t wait to get him here and see what he’s got.”
Other candidates to play as true freshmen: QB Jake Browning; OL Trey Adams; OL Henry Roberts; DL Ricky McCoy; WR Quinten Pounds.