Washington Football DT Greg Gaines makes his last stand

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images) Local Caption ***Greg Gaines
(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images) Local Caption ***Greg Gaines /
(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images) Local Caption ***Greg Gaines
(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images) Local Caption ***Greg Gaines /

Washington Football DT Greg Gaines now anchors the defensive line. This is his last year to make his stand on securing a spot in the upcoming NFL Draft

Washington Football defensive tackle Greg Gaines has plenty of stories to tell. For starters, he’s played alongside Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Elijah Qualls. Immediately afterwards, he lined up alongside Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea. Now, he stands with new teammates who look to him for leadership. This season, Gaines makes his last stand on the Washington Huskies defensive line.

Already projected as a 2018 NFL Draft prospect, Gaines has a golden opportunity to improve his value for the numerous scouts and analysts who will dissect his every play. Is he up to the challenge? I believe so. He has risen from modest projections to one of the premier defensive linemen in the nation this season.

A year ago, the duo of Vea and Gaines stirred the imagination and optimism of many national scouts. In fact, the pair entered last season as the highest regarded defensive linemen duo in the Pac-12, and perhaps even the nation. That lofty projection encouraged us to link any Washington Football team success with the performance of Vea and Gaines.

While both players earned praise, the health of the defensive backfield, and the underperforming offense did not keep pace.  Now, the defense must heal, regroup, and find a way to shut down opposing offenses without the versatile Vita Vea. And the only way the team can hope to do so rests upon the play of Greg Gaines.

Blocker gobbler

That is not to say that the defensive statistics will accumulate for Gaines at the expense of the other defensive linemen.  In fact, Gaines excels at holding the line of scrimmage and gobbling up blockers. That frees up teammates to make the tackle. And tackle is what they do very well.

Right now, the team projects a defensive line composed of 6-foot-0 buck linebacker Ryan Bowman, 6-foot-4 defensive tackle Shane Bowman, 6-foot-3 defensive tackle Greg Gaines, and 6-foot-3 defensive end Jaylen Johnson. And per HeraldNet’s Ryan S. Clark, that front four impressed in training camp so far.

Still, Gaines does more than plant and hold at the line of scrimmage. He is a tremendously powerful man who can create havoc by creating negative yardage plays on virtually any down. He’s even added a “hands up” move that successfully defended three passes last season. He did enough to earn a place on the 2018 Bednarik award watch list this year.

The most impressive attribute to Greg Gaines is his selfless style of play. He is not about padding his stats. He does not hold a large ego, which is refreshing for a dominant player. Another refreshing consideration is the fact that Gaines is not fighting through a pectoral muscle tear this season.  That means he will not be favoring injury as the season commences.

This season depends on many factors. The offense must renew their commitment to a positive running game. The team must find a way to place quarterback Jake Browning into the best possible situation to complete passes.  Finally, the team must remain healthy enough this season to compete for a national championship.

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We believe the NCAA needs a new champion, preferably one from the Pac-12.  Not only will that shake loose unfounded bias which favors east coast teams, but it will improve parity and merchandising markets nationwide. To do that, Gaines must find a way to make his last stand into his best stand. Not only will that improve the chances of a Washington team hoisting the national championship trophy, but it will give him solid footing entering the 2019 NFL Draft.