Washington signed eight high school seniors in its 2022 class.

Two defensive backs, two defensive linemen, one wide receiver, one tight end, one offensive lineman, one edge rusher …

Zero quarterbacks.

Though not for a lack of trying. UW head coach Kalen DeBoer’s staff did offer three-star Oklahoma quarterback Max Brown in December, but he verbally committed to Florida last week and promptly canceled his UW official visit. The Huskies also evaluated three-star Graham-Kapowsin signal caller and state champion Joshua Wood, but after failing to furnish an offer, he landed at Fresno State.

Instead, UW utilized another avenue to bolster its quarterback room — adding Indiana transfer Michael Penix Jr., who excelled when DeBoer was his offensive coordinator in 2019. The oft-injured, uber-talented lefty leader arrived at Washington this winter with two seasons of remaining eligibility.

So then, UW is expected to enter spring practice with three scholarship quarterbacks: Penix, sophomore Dylan Morris and redshirt freshman Sam Huard.

So how would DeBoer assess what he needs in a quarterback room, and whether the Huskies have it?

“First and foremost, you need to have someone who can distribute the ball,” DeBoer said Wednesday, speaking during the 2022 cycle’s second signing day. “We’re going to have too much talent — skill talent — around, to where if you’re just a hand-off guy or just a zone read guy that’s not going to be enough. We want to utilize and make every tight end, wide receiver and running back a threat to make a big play. You have to be able to get the football to those guys.

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“You asked about Michael (Penix Jr.) in particular. I was with him for a year so I know what he’s capable of doing throwing the football. We can’t throw the football around right now. So, with Sam (Huard) who obviously I’ve watched on film and Dylan (Morris) as well, those guys certainly check that box (of being able to throw) and then some as well. So, I feel good about where we’re at. You’ve got some guys that’ve taken a lot of snaps at the college level, and you’ve got Sam who has had an amazing (prep) career and is going to have a chance to get developed here.”

With development, DeBoer ultimately wants his quarterback to complete 65-70% of his passes. At Indiana, Penix Jr. completed 68.8% of his passes — a program record — under DeBoer in 2019, throwing for 1,394 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions, before an injury ended his season after just six games. But in 20 career games at IU, that completion percentage dipped to 59.4%.

Morris also struggled in that category in 11 starts last fall, completing 60.6% of his passes while throwing for 2,458 yards with 14 touchdowns and a conference-worst 12 interceptions. In four games and limited snaps, Huard completed just 52.4% of his throws, with 241 passing yards, one touchdown and four picks.

However, DeBoer also knows past struggles aren’t necessarily an indicator of future success.

“You’re trying to evaluate, OK, is the accuracy of a 55% passer because of what they’re doing (schematically) and they’re just taking shots down the field? Or is it because he really doesn’t understand the concepts?” DeBoer said. “That’s why it’s so important to see guys throw in person, whether it’s camp during the evaluation period or at a game. But I think on top of that, there’s so much (involved) with the poise and character and leadership a quarterback can bring. If that guy is one of the hardest working guys on the football team and one of the guys that plays with a lot of grit and just passion, man, it makes it a lot easier to get the rest of your football team feeling that way and going that direction as well.

“Someone who leads where they’re OK with being vulnerable, as a quarterback I just love a lot of those characteristic traits that those guys have. But I think arm talent is where it starts, and then anything you can do running and using your legs to move the chains and get those escape opportunities out of the pocket are just an added bonus.”   

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Time will tell whether one of UW’s quarterbacks possesses (or can develop) all those attributes.

But for now, three will need to be enough.

Addressing the high school/transfer balance

After UW added eight high-school prospects and seven transfers in the 2022 class, DeBoer was asked how he approaches striking a balance between the high school ranks and the transfer portal.

“I think it’s going to be fluid,” he said. “I can’t say I can give you a number. I think right now, coming in as a first-year coach here it’s about that balance of trying to make sure we have a great football team on the field this fall, but also trying to make sure that we’re building for the future.

“There are some unknowns. As much as we’ve studied film, not every guy shows up on film. We don’t know some of those backups who took limited snaps. You could watch practice film or something like that, maybe (high school) highlights if they’re a younger player in particular. But there’s some unknowns. There’s also some unknowns with guys recovering from injuries that we have on our team, where we’re kind of just waiting to see how they go through the rehab process and come back. We’re trying to make sure we have our bases covered.”

As an example, DeBoer noted the addition of sixth-year senior Pittsburgh linebacker Cam Bright — who arrived only after UW starter Jackson Sirmon transferred to Cal.

“It just worked out perfect,” DeBoer said. “We found the exact guy we feel is a great addition to our team, but also filled a need with the snaps that we needed to have.”

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UW football players to benefit from jersey sales

UW football players will have the opportunity to benefit from their jersey sales ahead of the 2022 season, Fanatics and OneTeam Partners announced in a press release Thursday.

To capitalize on this name, image and likeness opportunity, Husky football players will be able to opt into the program via a free app. UW joins “a select list of schools” that will offer this option, according to a university release.

OneTeam — a licensing, marketing and multimedia company — will provide the player rights necessary to launch the co-branded jersey program, and Fanatics will use its business (including an on-demand jersey customization platform) to execute sales. Jerseys will be made available on Fanatics’ website prior to the 2022 season.

Extra points

  • In the wake of multiple reports that former UW left tackle and two-time first-team All-Pac-12 performer Jaxson Kirkland has dropped out of the 2022 NFL draft due to ankle surgery and will petition the NCAA for one more college season, DeBoer said only that “it’s very clear, because it’s out there, that he’s had to deal with an injury. So there’s really nothing I can confirm right now because there’s processes and things like that he’s got to go through.”
  • DeBoer confirmed that both Pitt transfer Cam Bright and Cerritos College signee Demario King will settle at traditional linebacker spots for UW. And though four-star Sumner defensive back Tristan Dunn signed as a safety, the 6-foot-4, 188-pound athlete could potentially play the hybrid “husky” nickel spot as well. DeBoer called the “husky” position “one of the most essential spots on the field. It’s your really athletic safety, or it’s your really physical corner. It depends on who you have on your team. The different things we can do with the husky, playing coverage or bringing pressure, is a big deal. So having a guy that is flexible like Dom Hampton (fits), or maybe even a Tristan Dunn might be that type of guy with his length out there in space.” Kamren Fabiculanan is also expected to compete at the husky spot.