CHRISTIAN CAPLE

Caple: Have UW Huskies covered needs in transfer portal?

May 24, 2024, 11:09 AM

UW Huskies safety Justin Harrington...

New UW Huskies defensive back Justin Harrington plays for Oklahoma during a 2022 game. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

(Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

When the spring transfer portal window opened on April 16, I assigned a priority level for each of the UW Huskies’ position groups. Those priorities varied: the Huskies badly needed multiple offensive linemen, at least one tight end and some help at safety and defensive line, but I figured they had little to no need for any additional linebackers and cornerbacks. Every other position fell somewhere in between.

Five recruits who could take UW Huskies’ 2025 class to next level

And while it would be silly to suggest any college football program is ever “done” constructing its roster, the Huskies at least appear close to maxing out their 85-scholarship allotment. By my count, they’re at 84 scholarships committed following the Wednesday addition of Northern Colorado quarterback transfer Shea Kuykendall.

How did Washington’s portal additions align with my assigned priorities, mid-spring? Here’s how I ranked the need at each position last month, from most to least urgent, and how I’d assess Washington’s additions at each spot.

Departures refer to players who left after spring practices began, and additions are since April 16, as are priority rankings. Scholarship counts in parentheses.

Offensive line (14)

Priority: Extremely High

Departures: None

Additions: D’Angalo Titialii (Portland State), Enokk Vimahi (Ohio State), Maximus McCree (Iowa Central CC)

Jedd Fisch said UW would add another four or five offensive linemen before the start of the season. The spring portal window produced three, though none possess extensive starting experience at the FBS level. In fact, Vimahi’s two career starts in five seasons with the Buckeyes are the only FBS starts among this group. Titialii did start 28 games the past two seasons at PSU, and can play both center and guard. He’s probably the top option to start at center if Landen Hatchett isn’t healthy in time for the start of the season. Vimahi should step into a starting guard position, though he never did become a regular starter at Ohio State.

McCree is even more of an unknown. He graduated from Grandview (Mo.) High School in 2020. Statewide media voted him second-team all-state as a senior. He also played basketball. He spent two seasons — 2020 and 2021, so only one that counted against his eligibility — at Iowa Central Community College and became a JUCO All-American before signing as part of Maryland’s 2022 recruiting class. McCree appeared in only two games and logged 13 total snaps at Maryland in 2022, then left the program and apparently did not play anywhere in 2023 (though some reports indicate he re-enrolled at Iowa Central).

It was two years ago, but Maryland’s roster listed McCree at 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds. He is seemingly a candidate to compete with redshirt freshmen Soane Faasolo and Elishah Jackett for the starting left tackle spot. A rough outline of UW’s potential starting O-line might feature McCree at left tackle, Vimahi at one guard spot, Titialii at center, Drew Azzopardi at right tackle and either Zachary Henning or Gaard Memmelaar at the other guard position. Henning could also play center, and Hatchett is likely a starter if he’s healthy.

If UW is able to put together a decent offensive line this season, it won’t be because it reloaded with experienced starters in the transfer portal, though coaches did manage to increase the average age of the room. You never know when or where they might find another transfer, but the Huskies appear as if they will head into the summer with much still unproven up front.

Tight end (5)

Priority assigned: Very High

Departures: None

Additions: Keleki Latu (Nevada)

A 2021 signee at California, Latu transferred to Nevada and had 14 catches for 179 yards in six games before getting hurt last season. He’s a big target at 6-foot-7 and 237 pounds. The Huskies badly needed an experienced tight end to pair with Quentin Moore atop the depth chart, and Latu seemingly provides a solution there. UW’s other three scholarship tight ends — third-year sophomore Ryan Otton and true freshmen Decker DeGraaf and Charlie Crowell — still need time to develop, though any of them could be called upon to contribute this season.

Defensive line (9)

Priority: High

Departures: Anthony James II (TBD)

Additions: Logan Sagapolu (Miami), DeShawn Lynch (Sacramento State)

Sagapolu is a career offensive lineman whom the coaching staff will apparently deploy as a nose tackle; the 2020 Oregon signee was listed last season at 6-foot-2 and 340 pounds. Lynch is an intriguing player. Sac State listed him at 6-foot-5 and 283 pounds — big enough to play inside — but he played almost exclusively on the edge last season, per Pro Football Focus, finishing with 34 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. That’s solid production to add to this group. It’s also worth noting that Lynch was a relatively sought-after recruit out of Folsom (Calif.) High School, considering that he signed with Sac State. The 247Sports Composite rated Lynch the No. 624 prospect overall in the 2020 class, and he reported offers from multiple Power 5 schools.

We’ll see whether Sagapolu can challenge Jacob Bandes and Jayvon Parker for a starting job alongside Sebastian Valdez. UW’s coaches must see something that makes them believe Sagapolu can easily convert to defense. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

Safety (11, counting nickels)

Priority: High

Departures: Diesel Gordon (TBD)

Additions: Justin Harrington (Oklahoma), Cameron Broussard (Sacramento State)

This appears to be the position UW upgraded most, as both Harrington and Broussard are big, experienced players who can make the Huskies better. Harrington, a seventh-year senior, was a starter at Oklahoma’s hybrid “cheetah” linebacker spot, and can also play safety. Maybe he makes most sense as a nickel in UW’s defensive scheme. Like Harrington, Broussard is listed at 6-foot-3 (and 200 pounds), and was first-team All-Big Sky last season for a team that made the FCS playoffs.

UW’s starting safeties this spring were Kam Fabiculanan and Makell Esteen. Coaches seem to view Fabiculanan as a key player and leader, but the other safety job might be a fun competition to watch this August. Harrington and Broussard could each be important pieces of the Huskies’ defense.

Running back (6)

Priority: Medium to High

Departures: Tybo Rogers (TBD)

Additions: Jordan Washington (Arizona)

Washington is technically a transfer because he enrolled at Arizona and participated in spring practices there before making the jump to UW, though he’s essentially like any other 2024 signee. The four-star prospect from Long Beach (Calif.) rejoins Scottie Graham, his position coach who recruited him to Tucson. Jonah Coleman and Cam Davis should be UW’s top two backs, but Washington gives them some speedy depth — and another young player in the pipeline — behind senior Daniyel Ngata, oft-injured junior Sam Adams II and fellow freshman Adam Mohammed.

Rogers, who had been suspended indefinitely while awaiting trial on rape charges, is no longer with the program, a spokesperson confirmed last week. He had appeared on the roster this spring.

Edge rusher (8)

Priority: Medium

Departures: None

Additions: Jayden Wayne (Miami)

I felt like the Huskies had a fair number of competent players available here, but did think they could use another big-bodied rusher with some college experience. Wayne, who was once a five-star recruit at Tacoma’s Lincoln High School, fits that description at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds. He appeared in eight games with one start as a freshman at Miami last season and made 13 tackles. I’m not sure where Wayne fits in this season with Zach Durfee, Isaiah Ward, Voi Tunuufi, Russell Davis II, Maurice Heims, Lance Holtzclaw and Jacob Lane all fighting for snaps. But he does add depth and athleticism to a group that lacks any proven stars.

Receiver (9)

Priority: Medium

Departures: None

Additions: Kevin Green Jr. (Arizona)

Green was a 2022 signee who played sparingly during his first two seasons in Tucson, but does bring at least a touch of college experience to a group that has relatively little of it, behind seniors Jeremiah Hunter and Giles Jackson. I figured the Huskies would go after another proven playmaker here, and they did — they just haven’t landed any. Not yet, anyway. You may have seen that Mississippi transfer Zakhari Franklin reportedly visited UW. He’s also checking out Illinois. The Huskies also pursued Arizona State transfer Elijhah Badger, but he chose Florida. Landing Franklin would be a big boost for a group that already looks promising, but is still an injury or two away from having to rely on multiple freshmen.

Quarterback (3)

Priority: Medium to Low

Departures: Dermaricus Davis (UCLA)

Additions: Shea Kuykendall (Northern Colorado)

This obviously became a higher priority when Davis transferred mid-spring. Kuykendall visited campus recently and announced his commitment on Wednesday. Originally a 2022 signee from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, he redshirted at Northern Colorado in 2022 and appeared in four games with three starts last season. He’ll be a third-year sophomore in 2024 and gives the Huskies a third-stringer with at least some college experience.

Specialists (2)

Priority: Low

Departures: None

Additions: LS Cameron Warchuck (Colorado)

Who had “longsnapper transfer” on their portal bingo card? Who had a portal bingo card? If so, why? Anyway, the Huskies found a scholarship replacement for Jaden Green — something I wasn’t expecting — as Warchuck handled all of the longsnapping duties for the Buffaloes last season and has two years of eligibility remaining. If this is the last you ever hear of him, it means he will have done his job quite well (or that he caught a pass on a two-point conversion trick play or something).

Linebacker (8)

Priority: Very Low

Departures: Jordan Whitney (TBD)

Additions: Hayden Moore (Michigan)

The addition of Moore, a three-star 2023 signee from Aurora (Colo.) Regis Jesuit, is essentially a one-for-one replacement for Whitney, who entered the portal near the end of spring. With seniors Carson Bruener, Alphonzo Tuputala, Bryun Parham and Drew Fowler atop the depth chart, I didn’t think the Huskies needed any veteran portal help here, and it seems the coaches agreed. But Moore is a nice pickup for the future.

Cornerback (9)

Priority: Very Low

Departures: Davon Banks (Boise State)

Additions: None

I figured it was more likely the Huskies would lose a cornerback than add one, considering how many capable bodies they had competing for the two starting corner jobs. Sure enough, Banks hit the portal — I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes an impact at Boise State, assuming he can stay healthy — and the Huskies haven’t added anyone to a room that still includes nine scholarship players, five of whom are either true or redshirt freshmen.

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.

More UW Huskies coverage

Caple: Ranking toughest non-con game for UW Huskies and Big Ten rivals
• UW Huskies land college hoops’ highest-paid transfer in NIL deals
• Caple: Eight questions for UW Huskies after spring practices
Two UW Huskies games vs Big Ten opponents moved to Friday nights
• Caple: Six injured UW Huskies players to watch once healthy

Christian Caple

UW Huskies...

Christian Caple

Caple: Thoughts on Ana Mari Cauce, Big Ten and UW’s athletic budget

On Montlake's Christian Caple delves into three interesting topics surrounding the UW Huskies as they near their Big Ten debut.

1 day ago

UW Huskies helmet...

Christian Caple

UW transfer Logan Sagapolu ‘grateful’ for new start, position

Incoming UW Huskies transfer Logan Sagapolu is ready to make the transition from defensive line to offensive line in Seattle.

3 days ago

Pac-12 UW Huskies Oregon...

Christian Caple

Caple: The toughest game for each Pac-12 team as they enter new leagues

The 2024 college football season will find 10 of the former Pac-12 members playing in three different conferences.

14 days ago

UW Huskies Carson Bruener...

Christian Caple

Caple: Revisiting UW Huskies’ 2020 recruiting class, of which only 5 remain

Only five of the UW Huskies’ 23 signees from 2020 remain on the roster, as a group that ranked 16th nationally has become the first class at UW truly affected by the advent of the transfer portal.

16 days ago

UW Huskies vs. WSU Cougars in Apple Cup...

Christian Caple

Caple: Why are Apple Cup tickets so expensive? Let’s examine

Early ticket sales for the neutral-site Apple Cup between the UW Huskies and WSU Cougars for 2024 have caused sticker shock.

22 days ago

UW Huskies players celebrate...

Christian Caple

5 recruits who could take UW Huskies’ 2025 class to next level

These five recruits could bolster the UW Huskies' first full recruiting class under head coach Jedd Fisch.

28 days ago

Caple: Have UW Huskies covered needs in transfer portal?