Fall camp began this week, and the anticipation for the opener against Boise State keeps growing and growing. Many players will be battling it out to earn their way onto the depth chart for the opener. Here are 5 of the most intriguing position battles to watch during fall camp.
1. Defensive End- Even though the Huskies return both starters at end from last season, many players will be fighting to win over the starting spot for the 2013 team. Last year’s starters, Andrew Hudson and Josh Shirley, combined for just 13 sacks in 2012. Getting pressure has been an issue for the Huskies the last few years, meaning the team is always looking for new ways to rush the passer. Sophomore Cory Littleton emerged during spring camp, leading many to believe he may beat out Shirley or Hudson for a starting spot. Besides Littleton, Freshmen Joe Mathis and Marcus Farria will be looking to earn playing time on the line. With the Huskies looking to put more pressure on quarterbacks in 2013, the fight to start at defensive end is one to watch.
2. Backup Quarterback- If he stays healthy, Keith Price will take every snap at quarterback for the Huskies in 2013, but there are many players who are in the running to be his back up. Redshirt sophomore Derrick Brown is the only other Husky QB with game experience, but has only thrown a total of 5 passes in his career. After seeing Brown in the UW Spring drills, I think he would fit perfectly as a wildcat quarterback in the red zone. At 245 pounds, Brown is big enough to take defenders on head on and use his power to find the end zone. Jeff Lindquist and Cyler Miles both redshirted as freshman, and were both highly rated out of high school. I favor Miles out of the two due to his dual threat ability and playmaking. Freshman Troy Williams is one of the highest rated recruits in the 2013 class, but will probably redshirt due to the depth at QB. I favor Miles to win the backup job, as well as be the QB of the future for the Huskies.
Note: Derrick Brown has been moved from QB to halfback, clearing up this battle a bit.
3. Cornerback- With Desmond Trufant graduating and going on to the NFL, the Huskies will be looking for a new starter to emerge during fall camp. After starting 8 games as a sophomore, junior Marcus Peters seems to have locked down the spot as the team’s number one corner. After transferring from Alabama, Travell Dixon seems to be the favorite to start alongside Peters. Dixon was able to practice with the team last year while sitting out, giving him time to learn the defensive schemes. Greg Ducre has started plenty of games during his Husky career, and brings experience and leadership to the cornerback group. Redshirt freshman Cleveland Wallace has received a lot of praise from coaches, and could also compete for the starting job.
4. Wide Reciever- Kasen Williams has earned his spot as the Huskies #1 reciever, but no one knows who will emerge at the second spot. Huskies fans hoped that Senior James Johnson would be able to come back from his multiple injuries and finish his career how it started, but with his retirement in the spring, Huskies fans went back to guessing who will line up opposite Williams. Senior Kevin Smith has struggled with injuries during his career, but gives the Huskies speed and big play ability on the outside. DiAndre Campbell caught two touchdowns for the Huskies last season and has a chance to earn the starting roll. Freshman Damore’ea Stringfellow appears to be physically ready to play and has shown the ability to be a big play threat. Call me crazy, but I like the true freshman to emerge at the team’s #2 option opposite Kasen Williams.
5. Backup Halfback- After rushing for 1439 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore, Bishop Sankey has locked down his spot as the team’s starting running back. Husky fans may not remember that Sankey started last season as the backup, playing behind Jesse Callier until he tore his ACL in the opener against San Diego State. Callier will be back to full health come season time, and will be a valuable option to complement Sankey out of the back field. After suffering his third ACL injury since enrolling at the UW, Deontae Cooper hopes to remain healthy for a full season for the first time since high school. Cooper was a highly rated running back out of California but has never gotten to show his skills at the college level. He may be a mystery, but I think Cooper will surprise a lot of Husky fans if he remains healthy. After switching over from wide receiver, Dwayne Washington has impressed a lot of coaches during spring camp and will fight to earn carries during the fall. Erich Wilson backed up Sankey last season but may be buried on the depth chart this fall. The Huskies have plenty of options to choose from at backup running back, and all of them will get a chance to impress the coaching staff during fall camp.