CHRISTIAN CAPLE

Caple: Where UW Huskies roster stands as Jedd Fisch takes over

Jan 17, 2024, 5:25 PM

UW Huskies roster...

Members of the UW Huskies football team during the CFP National Championship against Michigan. (Logan Riely/Getty Images)

(Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Even if Kalen DeBoer had signed a contract extension and remained with the UW Huskies, the 2024 season would have represented a new era.

Three takeaways from Jedd Fisch’s first UW Huskies press conference

The offense was to lose Michael Penix Jr., Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan, Ja’Lynn Polk, Dillon Johnson, Troy Fautanu, Roger Rosengarten, Jack Westover and Devin Culp. Gone from the defense would be both starting defensive tackles, both edge rushers, two of the top four linebackers and a starting safety.

DeBoer’s departure for Alabama, though, has prompted several UW players to enter the transfer portal, including a few who already transferred to Washington and enrolled for winter quarter.

If those players do end up transferring, Washington would not have a single returning offensive starter, and would return only two defensive starters — assuming they don’t go in the portal, too.

But the Huskies are paying $7.5 million to new coach Jedd Fisch for a reason, and his first days on campus will focus on retaining as many portal-bound players as possible.

“We have a lot of players that entered the portal prior to my arrival here, in between probably that 48-hour span when Coach DeBoer went to Alabama, that are now very interested in potentially returning,” Fisch said Tuesday. “Those are conversations we’re going to have, and we’ve had our doors wide open and invited them to both the little locker-room reception we had when I first arrived on Sunday evening, and also our team meeting.”

With the acknowledgement that we might have to do this a few more times, let’s reset Washington’s scholarship roster, as it stands right this second — who’s moving on, who is in the transfer portal and who isn’t (yet).

Eligibility is listed for the 2024 season. I’ve included 2024 signees. If a player has entered the portal and committed to a new program, I’ve included him in the “moving on” category — even recent transfers to UW who just arrived on campus. Counting 2024 signees who have not decommitted, I have UW at 64 scholarships committed for next season, if all portal entrants did eventually transfer.

Breaking down the UW Huskies roster

Quarterback

Moving on (2): Michael Penix Jr. (graduated), Dylan Morris (transfer to James Madison)

In the portal (3): Will Rogers (Sr.), William Haskell (R-Jr.), Austin Mack (R-Fr.)

Not in the portal (1): Dermaricus Davis (Fr.)

As Fisch said Tuesday: “There’s guys that went in the portal at quarterback but were still at the team meeting. I think sometimes a player goes into the portal because of their opportunity to go speak to other teams. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not in this program, in this unique set of circumstances.”

So we’ll see if his early recruiting efforts focus on convincing Rogers and/or Mack to stick it out with a coaching staff they didn’t choose, or if Fisch will pursue his own angles in the transfer portal. Reports have pointed to Noah Fifita staying at Arizona. Is that door still open? Davis took one of his official visits to Arizona, so Fisch should be able to sell him on staying put (and he’s already enrolled). Does Mack plan to join DeBoer in Tuscaloosa? Does Fifita’s decision influence Rogers? Fisch will have to do his own evaluations, too, on who fits best in his system. Also: 2024 Arizona signee Demond Williams reportedly entered the transfer portal.

Running back

Moving on (2): Dillon Johnson (NFL), Richard Newton (graduated)

In the portal (0): N/A

Not in the portal (5): Cam Davis (R-Sr.), Daniyel Ngata (Sr.), Will Nixon (R-Jr.), Sam Adams II (R-Jr.), Tybo Rogers (So.)

This position is actually stable … so far. Arizona’s starting tailback Jonah Coleman, has entered the transfer portal, and his position coach, Scottie Graham, has been officially announced as joining Fisch at UW. With Johnson going pro, the previous staff was going to need at least one portal addition here, even if nothing else had happened. I’m curious to see what Davis might do.

Wide receiver

Moving on (4): Rome Odunze (NFL), Jalen McMillan (NFL), Ja’Lynn Polk (NFL), Taeshaun Lyons (transfer to Utah)

In the portal (1): Germie Bernard (Jr.)

Not in the portal (6): Giles Jackson (R-Sr.), Denzel Boston (R-So.), Rashid Williams (R-Fr.), Keith Reynolds (R-Fr.), Jason Robinson Jr. (Fr.), Justice Williams (Fr.)

There also is the matter of California transfer Jeremiah Hunter, who committed to the previous staff and has not publicly indicated his intentions going forward. Bernard is searching for his third school in three seasons, assuming he goes. The Huskies were going to need to reload here, regardless, with their top three receivers all declaring for the draft. But now they must work to secure the personnel already in place, and likely find additional help — and maybe a lot of it — in the portal.

Tight end

Moving on (3): Jack Westover (graduated), Devin Culp (graduated), Tre Watson (transfer to Texas A&M)

In the portal (0): N/A

Not in the portal (4): Quentin Moore (R-Sr.), Josh Cuevas (R-Jr.), Ryan Otton (R-So.), Decker DeGraaf (Fr.)

Watson had enrolled after transferring from Fresno State, but has already re-entered the portal and committed to Texas A&M. DeGraaf tweeted seemingly in approval of the Fisch hire, so we’ll see if he might stick around. Moore is a local product with one year of eligibility left. Otton is local, too, and obviously has a familial connection to UW. DeBoer brought Cuevas in from Cal Poly last season. Even if UW doesn’t lose anybody else, Fisch is going to need at least one transfer (and probably two) to ensure proper depth. A couple of Arizona tight ends entered the portal on Wednesday.

Offensive line

Moving on (2): Troy Fautanu (NFL), Roger Rosengarten (NFL)

In the portal (4): Nate Kalepo (R-Sr.), Julius Buelow (R-Sr.), Geirean Hatchett (R-Jr.), Parker Brailsford (R-So.)

Not in the portal (12): Gaard Memmelaar (R-Jr.), Samuel Peacock (R-Jr.), Robert Wyrsch (R-Jr.), Drew Azzopardi (R-So.), Jalen Klemm (R-So.), Landen Hatchett (So.), Zachary Henning (R-Fr.), Kahlee Tafai (R-Fr.), Elishah Jackett (R-Fr.), Soane Faasolo (R-Fr.), Paki Finau (Fr.), Davit Boyajyan (Fr.)

This feels like the position where there is at least a chance UW could pull a player or two back out of the portal; I know Geirean Hatchett is willing to hear the new staff out, and the coaches are trying to convince Brailsford to stick around (though his portal announcement could easily read as a farewell). The Huskies could really use at least one of Kalepo or Buelow, too, to add some veteran experience back to the group. And as with the rest of the 2024 class, it remains to be seen whether Finau or Boyajyan might ask out of their letters of intent. Scott Huff recruited every single o-lineman on the roster, and now he’s at Alabama.

New offensive coordinator and o-line coach Brennan Carroll will have his hands full. Unless the coaching staff already knows of an Arizona player or two who plans to follow them to Seattle, replacing bodies here could be a challenge; the portal is not exactly rich with experienced o-line talent. That makes it important to retain Azzopardi, who already transferred from San Diego State. Also: if Geirean does go, what happens with Landen?

“To win games in the Big Ten, it starts in the trenches, as we all know,” Fisch said. “If you can’t run the ball or stop the run, you don’t have a chance.”

Defensive line

Moving on (3): Tuli Letuligasenoa (graduated), Ulumoo Ale (graduated), Faatui Tuitele (retired)

In the portal (0): N/A

Not in the portal (8): Sebastian Valdez (Sr.), Jacob Bandes (R-Sr.), Jayvon Parker (Jr.), Armon Parker (R-So.), Elinneus Davis (R-Fr.), Anthony James (R-Fr.), Ratumana Bulabalavu (Fr.), Omar Khan (Fr.)

With Tuitele retiring, Valdez probably becomes the most important d-tackle to retain. If there’s positive news, it’s that nobody has actually entered the portal here (yet), and that each of UW’s 2024 signees — Bulabalavu and Khan — took an official visit to Arizona during their recruitment. Every remaining UW d-lineman except Bandes was recruited to Washington by DeBoer’s staff.

EDGE/defensive end

Moving on (3): Zion Tupuola-Fetui (graduated), Sekai Asoau-Afoa (graduated), Bralen Trice (NFL)

Decommitted (2): Noah Carter (decommit/NLI release), Keona Wilhite (decommit/NLI release)

Not in the portal (5): Voi Tunuufi (Sr.), Maurice Heims (R-Jr.), Zach Durfee (R-Jr.), Lance Holtzclaw (R-So.), Jacob Lane (So.)

I didn’t list Arizona State transfer B.J. Green here for the same reason Hunter wasn’t listed with the receivers — he announced a commitment to UW, but the school has not officially added him to the roster. Carter and Wilhite aren’t actually in the portal, but have announced their decommitments and will presumably seek releases from their letters of intent. Interestingly, Wilhite is from Tucson and originally committed to Fisch and Arizona. (UW also once had a commitment from four-star edge rusher Dominic Kirks, who did not sign in December and recently announced his de-commitment).

Linebacker

Moving on (2): Edefuan Ulofoshio (graduated), Ralen Goforth (graduated)

In the portal (1): Ethan Barr (Sr.)

Not in the portal (5): Alphonzo Tuputala (R-Sr.), Carson Bruener (Sr.), Deven Bryant (R-Fr.), Jordan Whitney (R-Fr.), Khmori House (Fr.)

Barr, UW’s replacement for Goforth as a one-year rental, already went back in the portal and is reportedly going to land at UCF. Tuputala and Bruener suddenly are among the most important players to retain on the roster. Walk-on Drew Fowler could help provide depth here, too.

Defensive backs

Moving on (2): Dominique Hampton (graduated), Jaivion Green (transfer to Stanford)

In the portal (5): Asa Turner (R-Sr.), Mishael Powell (R-Sr.), Jabbar Muhammad (Sr.), Vincent Nunley (R-Jr.), Vincent Holmes (R-Fr.)

Not in the portal (16): Kamren Fabiculanan (R-Sr.), Thaddeus Dixon (Sr.), Elijah Jackson (R-Jr.), Dyson McCutcheon (R-Jr.), Makell Esteen (R-Jr.), Davon Banks (R-Jr.), Darren Barkins (R-Jr.), Tristan Dunn (R-So.), Caleb Presley (R-Fr.), Leroy Bryant (R-Fr.), Curley Reed (R-Fr.), Diesel Gordon (R-Fr.), Peyton Waters (Fr.), Joshua Lair (Fr.), Paul Mencke Jr. (Fr.), Elias Johnson (Fr.)

Muhammad seems long gone, as he told 247Sports he’s most interested in Texas, Oregon and, of course, Alabama. Powell has been connected to Miami and Florida, where former UW assistant Will Harris was recently hired to coach the secondary. Nunley entered the portal during the season; Holmes reportedly entered on Wednesday. Turner played in only four games last season, so he has eligibility for 2024. Arizona cornerbacks coach John Richardson was officially announced as part of Fisch’s staff on Wednesday. The safety coach is TBD. Retaining Fabiculanan, Jackson and Dixon feels important, but there are a lot of young guys whose futures seem uncertain, too.

One intriguing name to watch: Arizona cornerback Ephesians Prysock, a former four-star recruit, is in the transfer portal.

Specialists

Moving on: N/A

In the portal: N/A

Not in the portal (2): LS Jaden Green (Sr.), K Grady Gross (Jr.)

Gross is coming off an impressive sophomore season, and Green has handled all of UW’s long-snapping duties since he arrived as part of the 2020 class. UW’s punter, Jack McCallister, is a walk-on, and also has not yet entered the transfer portal. So it’s possible the Huskies could retain their special-teams core.

This article was originally published at OnMontlake.com, the home for Christian Caple’s full UW Huskies football coverage. Subscribe to On Montlake for full access to in-depth UW coverage.

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