Washington Football: Here For The Long Haul

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Hunter Bryant #1 of the Washington Huskies makes a one-handed catch during the second half in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Hunter Bryant #1 of the Washington Huskies makes a one-handed catch during the second half in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Washington football may have fallen in the Rose Bowl, but there are so many things to be excited about around this program, this is just the start of something great.

The incredible era of Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin is over, and as sad as that may be, all they’ve done is lay the ground floor for Chris Petersen and the rest of the Huskies to build on. And oh boy, there are some huge building blocks coming for 2019 and beyond.


Every great team needs a great quarterback, and as great as Jake Browning was for the Huskies, he limited them offensively. His arm strength just wasn’t what the team needed it to be for their offense to truly feel dangerous after John Ross left for the NFL. We saw teams start to creep closer to the line of scrimmage over each of the last two seasons, and more often than not it paid off, as Washington’s offense fell from averaging 41.8 points per game in 2016, to just 26.4 in 2018. It all can’t fall on to Browning’s shoulders, but after watching what happened when he started to try to push the ball down the field late in the Rose Bowl and it started working? You can’t help but wonder what could’ve been if he had a stronger arm.

The Huskies are going to be set at quarterback through at least 2024, and I know it’s crazy to look that far ahead, but truly, they are. In 2019, they’ll have the most talented quarterback room in the country, between Jacob Eason, Colson Yankoff, Jacob Sirmon, Jake Haener, and incoming freshman Dylan Morris. And don’t forget, the Huskies already have a commitment from 5-star quarterback Sam Huard in the 2021 class. But with Eason at the helm in 2019 and all the weapons around him, the Huskies are primed to return to form on offense, much like 2016.


It hurts to say it again, but the Myles Gaskin era is over. Who will step up at running back next season? Who knows, but someone will produce from the way the Huskies scheme their offense. Kamari Pleasant averaged 5.1 yards per carry this season, and Salvon Ahmed averaged 5.8. Sean McGrew will definitely be in the mix for some carries, and we’ve yet to see Richard Newton get on the field, he could be someone that makes a big impact.

Pass catching won’t be a problem for the Huskies either. Aaron Fuller has turned himself into a reliable receiver, as has Andre Baccellia. Ty Jones has huge play potential, and a healthy Hunter Bryant will show everyone in 2019 that he’s the best tight end in America. Ahmed can be lethal out of the backfield as well. Oh right… there’s also the highly touted Marquis Spiker waiting in the wings, along with fellow four-star recruits Austin Osborne and Trey Lowe. The Huskies won’t have problems catching the ball, right Hunter?


Along the O-line, the Huskies have the kind of front that’s big enough to compete with the SEC and Big 10. Trey Adams will be back in 2019, and Jared Hilbers was good at left tackle in 2018, we’ll see how he fairs as a right tackle in 2019. And looking ahead? Offensive line coach Scott Huff is very excited about freshmen Victor Curne, Matteo Mele, and M.J Ale. Combine that with the 2019 recruits, led by Nathaniel Kalepo, the Huskies should remain strong along the offensive front.


The Husky defensive line is only going to get better from here. We’ve had to say goodbye to Greg Gaines, Vita Vea, and Elijah Qualls over the past few years, but their replacements could be even better. 2018 recruits Sam Taimani and Tuli Letuligasenoa should be able to slide in nicely next to Levi Onwuzurike in 2019, and with the highly touted freshmen Faatui Tuitele and Jacob Bandes coming in, the Huskies should have an incredibly deep rotation along the defensive line for the next few years.

The linebacking corps is the only real question mark for the Huskies, and even that can still be filled through recruiting (but we’ll get there in a minute, be patient). According to Brandon Huffman of 247 Sports, Joshua Calvert should be able to step in and play right away as a true freshman. Huffman also compared incoming freshman Miki Ah You to Keishawn Bierria, which is a great sign for Husky fans. Jackson Sirmon might be able to step in next season and make an impact, but with the departures of Ben Burr-Kirven and Tevis Bartlett, there’s a big hole to fill in the middle of the field.

In the secondary, Taylor Rapp has already declared for the NFL Draft. JoJo McIntosh and Jordan Miller are graduating, and Byron Murphy will probably be picked in the first round if he declares. Myles Bryant should be back for his senior season, and as always, there will be tons of insanely talented depth behind him. Bryant told us about the “first round talent” possessed by the freshmen trio of Julius Irvin, Kyler Gordon, and Dominique Hampton. And that’s without mentioning the excellent backups that are in line for a lot more playing time next season, Keith Taylor and Elijah Molden.


The Huskies aren’t done with the 2019 class, as they’re still in contention for three highly touted players, Henry To’oto’o, Kyle Ford, and Daniel Heimuli. All three would fill important positions for the Huskies. Ford would be an immediate upgrade at receiver, and an excellent playmaker for Eason in 2019 and beyond. He’s also the most important for the program, as he’d be the first five-star to commit to Chris Petersen’s program (Ale Kaho doesn’t count, as he was a four star who was reclassified to a five in February). To’oto’o and Heimuli would both fill important positions of need. To’oto’o would be an instant upgrade as a pass rusher, and would probably be able to produce right away. Heimuli would probably be able to slide in immediately at inside linebacker, and he’s probably the Huskies’ top target right now, since there’s the least amount of depth there.

Looking ahead, the next two years are arguably the most important in the history of the Washington football program. It starts with the big guys at the top, five star recruits Sav’ell Smalls and Kelee Ringo. Those two can be instant impact players, and help set the trend for something even better.

2021 will be the best year in the history of Washington state high school football. There are five recruits from the state of Washington inside the top 50 overall. Three of them, including Sam Huard, are rated as five star prospects. Among those three is J.T. Tuimoloau at Eastside Catholic, the number one player in the country. Emekea Egbuka is the other, a five star athlete out of Steilacoom.

Chris Petersen CANNOT let these guys get away from him. Schools like Alabama and Ohio State will always be an enticing destination for recruits, but he can’t let them come into his backyard and let them get taken away.

Petersen is building something special, and he’s almost there. He showed how resilient his team can be in the fourth quarter of the Rose Bowl, and adding these pieces will secure the Huskies as a national power. A big showing and another NY6 bowl appearance (and hopefully a win) with Eason at the helm will go a long way too.