university of washington blog

2012 UW Huskies football: Players who should have breakout seasons

Huskies who could fill the void

Every college football team experiences graduation and the loss of players, or players leaving early for the pro’s like this Chris Polk did this year.

Like every program life must go on and the UW Huskies are no different. They will have to replace some key seniors that saw Polk depart the running back position, Devin Aguilar and Jermaine Kearse depart the receiving core and Alameda Ta’amu depart the defensive tackle position.

Who is going to replace these guys?

I’ve got five Huskies poised for breakout seasons.

To qualify for a breakout year to me you have to have been in the program so guys like Shaq Thompson aren’t eligible (in my eyes).

You also couldn’t have been on any all Pac-12 team so Austin Seferian-Jenkins despite being a true sophomore he isn’t eligible since ASJ is already an all Pac-12 tight end.

Onto the five guys who I think can fill the void, and as I usually do I’ll count backwards to my #1.

5. Kevin Smith

True junior wide receiver

With both Aguilar and Kearse graduated someone needs to step up to fill the void at wide receiver. Now the obvious choice is Kasen Williams (read on he’ll make the list don’t worry).

Now I expect James Johnson to fill the void as well as he is a senior but I feel like he is pretty established so he didn’t make my list.

Kevin Smith in 2010 was the 22nd wide receiver in the nation and was a four star recruit.

Danny Shelton

Danny Shelton will have a great year stuffing the run.

As a freshman he had just one reception for 18 yards but had 324 yards in kickoff returns. As a sophomore his role increased with the team as he had 15 receptions for 208 yards while contributing 958 yards on kickoff returns.

He also ran for 71 yards with a touchdown. Smith is a big tall physical receiver with good speed I look for him to be that big play threat the team will need with Kearse graduating.

4. Danny Shelton

True sophomore defensive tackle

Danny Shelton will replace Ta’amu and will be the nose tackle for the Huskies. Shelton played in several games as a true freshman including getting some starts.

He is a three star recruit and 32nd defensive tackle in the country in the 2011 class. Shelton was voted recently as the most important player on the Huskies roster not named Keith Price because there is nobody behind him.

Shelton for this defense to improve must have a big year which is mainly stuffing the run.

3. Josh Shirley

Redshirt sophomore OLB/rush end

He’ll be what the Seahawks hope Bruce Irvin can be for them. Josh Shirley last year had 8.5 sacks so you are probably asking how can he break out?

Well he had four of those in the Alamo Bowl and two in the Apple Cup. So he had just 2.5 sacks the first 11 games while producing six the final two.

Shirley was the 12th rated outside linebacker in the nation in 2010 as he was a four star recruit.

With new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox in who likes to blitz and will run a 3-4 Shirley will move from defensive end to an outside linebacker who just rushes the quarterback.

Look for Shirley to be amongst the conference leaders in sacks this upcoming season.

2. Jesse Callier & Bishop Sankey

True junior running back : true sophomore running back

With Chris Polk gone who is the second leading rusher in Huskies football history someone has to fill the void at running back.

Jesse Callier

Jesse Callier as a freshman had 413 yards rushing

Now this is tricky why I felt to include both guys as I don’t see either Jesse Callier or Sankey being the “guy” but both will be productive.

Callier is a junior now who has spelled Polk the last two years. Callier came in as a three star recruit in the 2010 class and produced right off the bat as a freshman.

Callier as a freshman had 413 yards rushing (5.4 YPC) with 18 catches with 98 yards (5.4 YPC). Callier ran for a career high 107 yards against UCLA in a 24-7 win on a special ESPN thursday night game.

Callier also started off the Holiday Bowl upset with a 16 yard pass to Jake Locker. Callier also had 733 kickoff return yards.

As a sophomore Callier battled injuries and thus his production fell off. Callier had just 260 yards rushing (5.5 YPC) with a touchdown. He had seven receptions for 65 yards and had 576 kickoff return yards.

Callier I believe doesn’t have the build to be an everydown back but he is versatile, as he has proven his first two years at Washington.

While Bishop Sankey is a four star running back and 17th rated back in the 2011 class. Sankey committed early to the Washington State Cougars but decided he wanted to play in some bowl games and went to Washington.

In his first season with the Huskies Sankey ran for 187 yards (6.7 YPC) with a touchdown.

He also added six receptions and 134 yards in kickoff yards. Sankey runs like a young Polk and I think Sankey will eventually be the starter but at first him and Callier will split carries.

1. Kasen Williams

True sophomore wide receiver

Kasen Williams was a big recruit as in he was a five-star wide receiver and #2 receiver in the entire nation.

Kasen Williams

I expect Kasen Williams to be all Pac-12

With Kearse and Aguilar gone someone needs to step up and who better than Williams?

With Price as a junior look for Price-Williams to be the best combo since Picket-Reggie Williams from 2001-03.

Last year Williams had 36 receptions for 427 yards (11.7 YPC) with six touchdowns. He also had 144 yards (9.6 YPR) in punt returns including a 46 yarder in the Alamo Bowl.

Williams started off slow in his first six games had just 12 receptions for 97 yards with two touchdowns.

In the next seven games Williams would have 24 receptions for 330 yards with four touchdowns including a big game in the Apple Cup where he had five receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns.

I expect Williams to be all Pac-12 and if not for a loaded conference at the receiver position could have been first team which I expect him to be as a junior.

Well those are my five names to keep an eye on.

I expect all five guys and hopefully more to emerge as big stars for the Huskies as they look to go their third straight bowl game something they haven’t done since going eight straight from 1995-2002.

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