CHRISTIAN CAPLE

Caple: 6 UW Huskies reserves key for 2023 football season

Aug 26, 2023, 11:08 AM

UW Huskies Kamren Fabiculanan...

Kamren Fabiculanan of the UW Huskies celebrates a win over Oregon State on Nov 4, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Until the UW Huskies release their first depth chart of 2023 — a sacred tradition reserved for the Monday prior to the season opener — we won’t technically know who their projected starters will be.

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But the Huskies have had enough open practices — including a fully open session this week — to paint what should be a fairly accurate picture of what their lineup will look like come Sept. 2, when they take the field at Husky Stadium for their opener against Boise State.

This means we also have some understanding of who their key reserves might be.

While each of these six players will surely continue to compete for starting duty, they still should see the field at some point and contribute in a meaningful way.

The UW Huskies’ key reserves

DB Kamren Fabiculanan

Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Chuck Morrell says he views fifth-year junior Fabiculanan as a starter, even if he might not be among the first five defensive backs on the field. Fabiculanan started six games last season and has experience at both safety and the “husky” (nickel) position. He figures to be the first player off the bench at both of those spots, should the Huskies need him, and likely will appear on defense in every game.

LB Ralen Goforth

Though Edefuan Ulofoshio and Alphonzo Tuputala appear set as the starting linebackers, Goforth, a senior transfer from USC, essentially gives the Huskies a third starter off the bench. He wanted to come to Washington in spite of the existing depth, he said, because he was looking for a change of scenery and wanted to be part of competing for a championship. Goforth started 17 games for the Trojans the past four seasons, more than any linebacker on UW’s roster. He brings a physical presence and should help keep Ulofoshio and Tuputala fresh without much dropoff.

WRs Germie Bernard and Denzel Boston

It’s possible either of these players could pull a start from time to time, depending upon formation and personnel packages. Regardless, Bernard and Boston each are in line to play a bunch behind the starting trio of Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Ja’Lynn Polk. Bernard played in all 12 games for Michigan State last season before transferring, though he wasn’t often targeted.

Boston redshirted but did see the field some, including scoring a touchdown on a 2-yard end-around against Portland State. Both have drawn rave reviews from teammates throughout this spring and preseason camp, and should help round out perhaps Washington’s deepest group of wideouts ever.

CB Thaddeus Dixon

Oklahoma State transfer Jabbar Muhammad and fourth-year sophomore Elijah Jackson are established as the starting cornerbacks, but Dixon, a junior college transfer, might be the first cornerback off the bench. He’s shown a knack for being around the ball and snagging interceptions during spring and preseason camp. It remains to be seen whether Muhammad or Jackson will ever come off the field, barring injury or a lopsided score. But if and when the Huskies need someone to step in at corner, Dixon should provide a confident, aggressive option off the bench.

OL Geirean Hatchett

Assuming UW’s starting O-line consists of left tackle Troy Fautanu, left guard Julius Buelow, center Matteo Mele, right guard Nate Kalepo and right tackle Roger Rosengarten, it’s possible Hatchett, a fourth-year sophomore, could be the first player off the bench at a few different positions. Offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb said this week that Hatchett continues to compete for a starting guard job, so he at least projects as the backup at both of those spots. He also has practiced at right tackle, and has a history of practicing at center, too (though UW has other options there, such as redshirt freshman Parker Brailsford and freshman Landen Hatchett, Geirean’s younger brother).

O-line is a physically demanding position, and it’s unlikely UW will get through another season without any linemen missing significant time, as it did last year. That means the Huskies are almost certainly going to need Hatchett at some point, and coaches might carve out some time for him, regardless — and that’s only if Hatchett doesn’t win a starting job outright.

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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