CHRISTIAN CAPLE

Caple: The 3 big UW Huskies questions ahead of spring ball

Mar 30, 2024, 9:25 AM

UW Huskies transfer Arizona Jonah Coleman...

Arizona RB Jonah Coleman runs with the ball against Stanford in 2023. (Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

(Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

The UW Huskies are scheduled to begin spring practices on Wednesday afternoon with a new coaching staff and a roster that little resembles what they put on the field in 2023.

Here are three big questions to consider ahead of UW’s spring workouts.

What does the offensive line look like?

Washington’s entire, Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line has moved on, whether by early draft entry or transfer. In fact, the Huskies’ top six linemen, in terms of snaps played, are no longer on the roster, and of the 11 scholarship offensive linemen on the 2024 team, eight are either true or redshirt freshmen.

The depth is further complicated by fifth-year junior Gaard Memmelaar recovering from a season-ending injury sustained in August, and sophomore center Landen Hatchett recovering from a December knee injury.

It all leaves the Huskies with limited options.

One near-certainty: third-year sophomore San Diego State transfer Drew Azzopardi should take over one of the tackle spots. He committed to the previous coaching staff and chose to stay and play for new coach Jedd Fisch.

Zachary Henning is the redshirt freshman most ready to contribute in a meaningful way. He played in two games while redshirting last season, and new offensive coordinator (and o-line coach) Brennan Carroll mentioned him as a candidate to take snaps at center, with Hatchett still recovering from injury. Walk-on Parker Cross could also play some center.

Other than that, Washington’s o-line depth is a mystery, and redshirt freshmen like Elishah Jackett, Kahlee Tafai, and Soane Faasolo — or true-freshmen, early enrollees Paki Finau and Michael Watkins — could be relied upon to fill those holes this spring, before coaches dip back in the transfer portal to build out the room this spring and summer.

Who are the playmakers?

You know a couple. Arizona tailback Jonah Coleman transferred to UW after a big sophomore season, and should be a focal point. Jeremiah Hunter, California’s top receiver the last two seasons, is another transfer to watch.

Who else will touch the ball?

Conversations with some former Huskies at the school’s Pro Day produced a few other names to watch.

Former edge rusher Zion Tupuola-Fetui and offensive lineman Roger Rosengarten each pointed to senior receiver Giles Jackson as a potential breakout candidate, while linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio said he thinks senior tight end Quentin Moore “has all the traits to be one of the best tight ends in the country.”

Another name that came up: third-year sophomore Denzel Boston. The 6-foot-4, 207-pound product of Puyallup’s Emerald Ridge High School was a star last spring, and should be in line for a big season after sitting behind Rome Odunze last year.

Where do the defensive transfers fit in?

Aside from adding members of the 2024 recruiting class who were previously committed to Arizona, Fisch also brought with him a handful of transfers who had planned to play for the Wildcats.

Some appear to be sure starters. Others will have to compete for snaps.

One likely starter is 6-foot-4 cornerback Ephesians Prysock, a junior who started every game for Arizona last season. He could conceivably slide right into the starting job vacated by Jabbar Muhammad, who transferred to Oregon.

Similarly, Montana State defensive line transfer Sebastian Valdez, who committed to the previous coaching staff, seems a lock to hold down the defensive interior. Junior-college transfer Bryce Butler also should see plenty of reps this spring.

Jordan Shaw, a redshirt freshman transfer from Indiana, also is a corner/nickel candidate who appeared in four games last season and should compete for a spot on the depth chart with senior Thaddeus Dixon, junior Darren Barkins, junior Davon Banks and redshirt freshmen Leroy Bryant, Caleb Presley and Curley Reed.

Arizona transfers Russell Davis II and Isaiah Ward, who started 11 games last year, will factor into the competition at edge rusher, where Zach Durfee, Voi Tunuufi, Maurice Heims, Lance Holtzclaw and Jacob Lane return.

And Bryun Parham, a senior transfer from San Jose State, joins Alphonzo Tuputala and Carson Bruener in an experienced linebacker room, as does Arizona transfer Anthony Ward.

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.

More UW Huskies coverage

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• Taking over with UW Huskies feels very personal for Danny Sprinkle
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