CHRISTIAN CAPLE

Transfer churn: How UW Huskies’ roster has changed via portal

Jun 2, 2023, 10:00 AM

UW Huskies USC Ralen Goforth...

Linebacker Ralen Goforth plays for the USC Trojans against Arizona on Nov. 14, 2020. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As the transfer portal continues to change the way college football programs construct their rosters, the UW Huskies again used it to bolster depth and add playmaking ability at multiple positions.

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Washington saw 15 of its scholarship players from 2022 enter the portal at season’s end, though of that group, only two were regular contributors, and none were expected to compete for starting jobs in 2023. The Huskies also added eight players from the portal (so far), each of whom is expected to play some kind of role this year, and a few of whom could wind up starting. At present, UW has 82 scholarships committed for the upcoming season, meaning they could add three more players between now and August. So, it’s possible they aren’t done yet.

Remember, the following accounting does not include players who left via graduation, nor will the “in” category count 2023 high school recruits. We’re simply evaluating Washington’s portal activity.

2023 UW Huskies football transfer breakdown

Quarterback

Out: Sam Huard (Cal Poly)
In: N/A

The Huskies did add a 2023 signee at the position — four-star prospect Austin Mack, who reclassified from the 2024 class. And it’s always possible they could add a late transfer before camp. For now, though, it appears they will enter the season with the scholarship trio of Michael Penix Jr., Dylan Morris and Mack, with walk-on JUCO transfer Alex Johnson a candidate to fill the No. 3 spot on the depth chart. Huard will likely be the starter under first-year coach Paul Wulff (and first-year offensive coordinator Sheldon Cross, Huard’s high-school coach) at Cal Poly.

Running back

Out: Jay’Veon Sunday (TBD), Aaron Dumas (TBD)
In: Dillon Johnson (Mississippi State), Daniyel Ngata (Arizona State)

With Wayne Taulapapa out of eligibility, the Huskies have an opening in their tailback rotation alongside returning contributor Cam Davis. They filled that void by adding Johnson and Ngata, each of whom has legitimate Power 5 experience — especially Johnson, who should push Davis for lead-back duties. Sunday and Dumas moved on after spending last season on the sideline.

Offensive line

Out: Victor Curne (Mississippi), Myles Murao (TBD)
In: N/A

Owen Prentice, a former four-star recruit from O’Dea, also left the program this spring but did not enter the portal and is not expected to continue playing football. The Huskies still could use an experienced tackle to provide some depth behind starters Troy Fautanu and Roger Rosengarten, but they’ve yet to add an O-line transfer in the portal era. They did sign five offensive linemen in their 2023 recruiting class.

Tight end

Out: Caden Jumper (Murray State)
In: Josh Cuevas (Cal Poly)

Cuevas gives the Huskies another receiving target at tight end, and should compete for the starting job in 2024 after seniors Devin Culp and Jack Westover move on. Jumper, an Eatonville product, signed in the 2021 class and didn’t challenge for playing time in his two seasons in Seattle.

Wide receiver

Out: Lonyatta “Junior” Alexander (Montana State), Taj Davis (California)
In: Germie Bernard (Michigan State)

Davis’ post-spring departure might have been the biggest transfer surprise of the Huskies’ offseason, but it still made sense — he was the No. 5 option in the rotation last year, and with the arrival of Bernard and the emergence of redshirt freshman Denzel Boston, the competition for playing time was going to be that much tougher. Bernard, who originally signed with UW in the 2022 class before changing his mind and enrolling at Michigan State, impressed in his first spring in Seattle, and should be a factor in 2023.

Defensive line

Out: Kuao Peihopa (Hawaii), Siaosi Finau (TBD)
In: N/A

Peihopa was suspended indefinitely last season and Finau was buried on the depth chart, so their departures were not surprising. The Huskies return every primary contributor from last season, and D-tackles are at a premium in the portal, so it’s no surprise they didn’t make any additions. The 2024 class will be crucial for re-stocking depth here.

Edge rusher

Out: Sav’ell Smalls (Colorado)
In: Zach Durfee (Sioux Falls)

Smalls’ mid-spring departure was a bit of a surprise, though not a major one — he would have been the No. 3 edge rusher this season, at best, behind starters Bralen Trice and Zion Tupuola-Fetui. The Huskies added Durfee during the winter, and he impressed during spring practices after piling up 11.5 sacks as a redshirt freshman at the D-II level last year.

Linebacker

Out: Daniel Heimuli (Arizona), Demario King (Old Dominion)
In: Ralen Goforth (USC)

Heimuli had been suspended indefinitely at the time of his departure, but landed in the Pac-12 and has a line on a starting job with the Wildcats as a fifth-year junior this season. King sat out all of last season due to injury after arriving as a JUCO transfer, and recently announced his commitment to ODU. Goforth played a lot for the Trojans the past few seasons, and gives the Huskies a veteran presence in a linebacker corps led by Edefuan Ulofoshio and Alphonzo Tuputala.

Defensive back

Out: Cam Williams (Georgia Southern), Zakhari Spears (UConn)
In: Jabbar Muhammad (Oklahoma State), Darren Barkins (Oregon)

The Huskies also added a JUCO transfer, Thaddeus Dixon, who will compete for playing time at cornerback. Muhammad arrived on campus as an obvious starter after playing 832 snaps for Oklahoma State last season.

Barkins plays cornerback, too, and was a 2021 signee for the Ducks whom UW’s previous coaching staff also pursued out of high school. UW could still use a safety transfer to make things a little more interesting at that position, though they are pretty well-stocked with scholarship bodies, even after Williams’ departure.

This column from UW Huskies football insider Christian Caple is exclusive to Seattle Sports. Subscribe to OnMontlake.com for full access to Caple’s in-depth Husky coverage.

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