The big questions as Huskies open 2018 fall camp
Health and depth are always concerns for any college football team. When Washington opens 2018 fall camp this Friday I'll be most curious about the surgery recoveries of front line offensive players Trey Adams and Chico McClatcher.
Adams is an All-Pac 12 left tackle with a chance to become a first round NFL draft choice. The massive blocker from Wenatchee tore knee ligaments last October, and from all indications has been making steady progress. Washington threw true freshman Luke Wattenberg into the deep end of the pool last season at the important offensive line position. He or Bellevue's Henry Roberts will be ready if Adams is not a full go for the season opener against Auburn.
The Dawgs lost a dynamic 'go-to' receiver Dante Pettis to graduation. Their second leading receiver from 2017, tight end Hunter Bryant, will also be sidelined to start this fall. The sophomore from Eastside Catholic High School required surgery to repair a nagging knee injury. There's a chance he could play in 2018, but could also use a medical redshirt.
That makes the return of junior slot receiver Chico McClatcher more important in my mind. The man from Federal Way played in only three Washington games before a broken ankle cost him the rest of the 2017 season. McClatcher did individual work during spring camp and appears on track for full participation this month.
When at full speed the 5'-8" 175 pounder can turn a five yard flat pass into a 70 yard touchdown. Juniors Andre Baccellia and Aaron Fuller are smart, sure-handed receivers who came up with some important catches late in the 2018 campaign. 6'-4" 215 pound Ty Jones showed great promise in spring drills and has the wing span to become a key target for Jake Browning.
Senior quarterback Browning has heard plenty of criticism during his three years at Montlake. People tend to forget he was the Pac-12 offensive player of 2016, setting school records for touchdown passes. True, he did have John Ross III, Pettis and McClatcher. Browning's accuracy and decision-making have and always will be his greatest assets. There's no reason to believe he won't have a sensational final year in purple and gold.
But who will be Browning's primary understudy in 2018? The important position involves three QBs who've never played a down of college football. Coaches were pleased with the progress of redshirt freshman Jake Haener during spring practices. He is only six feet tall but has a big arm and mobility.
Bothell's Jacob Sirmon and Idaho native Colson Yankoff are large, gifted athletes who enrolled at UW early to immerse themselves in the offensive system. Fortunately the Dawgs have a talented, experienced line, and a tremendous running game to help take the pressure off any young quarterback.
To say Washington's kicking game was inconsistent in 2017 would be an understatement. Tristan Vizcaino struggled enough on field goals to earn a seat on the bench in game seven at Arizona State. Freshman Van Soderberg missed two short ones in a frustrating 13-7 loss to the Sun Devils. Vizcaino reclaimed the job and delivered a game-winning boot against Utah.
Soderberg, redshirt freshman Peyton Henry, and freshman walk-on Dylan Williams will battle in the next four weeks. Henry is a left footer and during spring camp showed more consistency than Soderberg. With a college kick off rule change, leg strength will also be a factor for which player emerges at the top of the seating chart.