Key true freshman for Washington football in 2024

Jul 21, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Arizona Wildcats coach Jedd Fisch during Pac-12 Media Day at
Jul 21, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Arizona Wildcats coach Jedd Fisch during Pac-12 Media Day at / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2 returning starters. That is the key number everyone is talking about around Washington Huskies football. The fact is that new head coach Jedd Fisch might be facing the biggest rebuild in college football history as—since at least the start of the BCS/CFP era—no team has ever returned 0 offensive starters.

However, there might be no better-suited man for the task than Fisch, as he inherited an even worse situation in Arizona and in only three seasons managed to take the program from 0 wins to a No. 11 finish in the AP Poll.

To kick off his stated mission of making Washington “the 33rd NFL team”, he has already built a great staff littered with NFL experience and an impressive championship pedigree. Moreover, he has already coached at two different stops in the Big Ten, which might prove to be very valuable while the program transitions to the new conference.

Fisch has made his recruiting philosophy very clear and stated on Seattle Sports' Brock and Salk that he wants to "build it through high school recruiting" and for UW's 2025 recruiting class to be "the best Washington has ever had". To do that, he said that they are going to play freshmen and pointed to what he and his staff did at Arizona as proof of concept.

Key true freshman for Washington football in 2024

According to Pro Football Focus, in both 2022 and 2023, true or redshirt freshmen accounted for over 21 percent of Arizona’s offensive snaps. And while last year's numbers are obviously skewed by redshirt freshmen QB Noah Fifita and OL Wendell Moe, it is still a very significant number and one from which the 2024 UW football team might not fall far behind.

After losing more than just the five starters from last season's Joe Moore award-winning unit, Washington's offensive line remains one of the biggest concerns heading into spring. As of right now, 10 out of the 13 offensive linemen listed on Washington's roster are either true freshmen or redshirt freshmen, so there is bound to be a bunch of young blood starting in the trenches. And with 4-star OL Paki Finau standing out as the best class of 2024 signee, he can be expected to take a substantial amount of snaps.

The Dawgs currently lack depth at receiver and even more so at tight end. Jason Robinson is an excellent route runner who could make an immediate impact in the slot and Decker DeGraaf tallied 993 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in 11 games as a senior for Glendora and should instantly see the field as there are currently only four tight ends listed on the roster. They are both already enrolled and will get sizeable snaps in spring practices.

On defense, freshmen accounted for only five percent of Arizona's snap counts in 2023, according to PFF, and we might not see as many of them play meaningful snaps as on the offensive side of the ball. But with not many definitive answers at safety, Peyton Waters might have a good chance to see the field thanks to his elite speed and good ball skills. He is already enrolled as well.

Finally, last season QB Will Rogers injured his shoulder and missed four games because of it. If he were to get hurt again, 4-star recruits Demond Williams and Dermaricus Davis will have to step up. The Huskies do not currently have much depth at the position and Williams' running ability or Davis' powerful arm should allow them to be capable backups if needed.