The Huskies field a solid unit with experience and depth.
Free Safety – Will Shamburger
Shamburger played solidly in the spring. Curiously, though, Steve Sarkisian didn’t say anything that would indicate he would be the default starter, as would be expected of an experienced returning senior.
Strong Safety – Sean Parker
Sean Parker, like Shamburger, is an experienced returning vet. However, Parker started every game last season, was captain and was Honorable Mention All-Pac 12.
His starting spot is assured.
Cornerback – Gregory Ducre
Shutdown corner Desmond Trufant will be dearly missed here. Cornerback, as it stands, is one of Washington’s thinnest position groups.
I feel reasonable about picking Gregory Ducre to lock down one starting spot. Ducre is a senior with lots of experience, who played noticeably better this spring. He should be serviceable.
Cornerback – Travell Dixon
This second spot is up for grabs, but I’m going to go out on a limb a little and pick transfer Travell Dixon.
An NJCAA All American at Eastern Arizona College, Dixon had a redshirt season last year to get acclimated to UW. He only played a single year of high school football, but dominated junior college and is ready to make an impact in the Pac-12.
Linebacker – Travis Feeney
A converted safety originally, sophomore Travis Feeney was one of the highlights for Washington on defense last year, earning Honorable Mention All Pac-12 in his first real season.
An interesting size for the position at 6’4” and 209, Feeney nevertheless was all over the field last season and is set to have a monster year.
Linebacker – Shaq Thompson
He plays all over the field, and may be needed more urgently at cornerback; but for now, Shaq Thompson will start at linebacker for the Huskies.
The freakishly athletic Thompson was Honorable Mention All Pac-12 and a second-team Freshman All-American. Named Freshman of the Year within the team, Thompson is an absolute playmaker on defense wherever you slot him.
If you’re going to watch one Washington player on defense, make it Thompson.
Linebacker – John Timu
Like Feeney and Thompson, John Timu started last year at linebacker as a captain and is on pace to do so again. Washington returns an exceptionally experienced and skilled linebacking corps to anchor the defense, with Timu looking to replicate or improve on last season’s Honorable Mention All Pac-12.
I haven’t even touched on the solid depth UW also has at this position, in addition to a great batch of recruits.
Defensive End – Josh Shirley
Coming off the edge with size and speed, Josh Shirley had a solid season in 2012, but will need to up his production in 2013.
Washington’s pass rush (or lack thereof) was a glaring weakness last year. Shirley is a likely choice to start for the Huskies, but he’ll have to do more than just that to keep opposing offenses honest.
Defensive End – Andrew Hudson
Honorable Mention All Pac-12 after starting every game, junior Andrew Hudson will line up as the other defensive end. Hudson showed flashes of disruptive ability, but will need to lead by example for a unit highlighted by many as one of the team’s potential weak spots.
Defensive Tackle – Danny Shelton
Danny Shelton was Honorable Mention All Pac-12 and started every game at nose tackle last year. He shows great penetrative ability and can command double teams, as well as the capacity to to step back and stop the run.
An obvious choice to start inside, Shelton has the potential to have a great season coming off a solid 2012.
Defensive Tackle – Connor Cree
This pick is a little out there, but sophomore Connor Cree was one of the biggest surprises in the spring game and has been tabbed by many to see heavy playing time this season.
He may also be in the rotation as a defensive end, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see him starting in the interior this season.
Definitely a player to keep an eye on.
That’s your 11, Husky Nation. A lot more experience than last year, although cornerback remains questionable.
Much is still up in the air, but things look promising for Washington on both sides of the ball.