At Pac-12 football media day last week, Jimmy Lake was asked what stood out most about his team after exiting the spring.

“We have a bunch of returners, as you guys know. We have depth at every single position,” said Washington’s second-year coach, wearing a bright purple polo shirt and a giddy grin. “The competition is going to make the cream rise to the top. So I’m most excited about that going into our training camp in August.”

In the week leading up to UW’s first fall practice Friday, let’s use a familiar formula to test that depth. Let’s rank the Huskies’ roster 10 at a time, just as Times reporter Bob Condotta annually does in the days before Seahawks training camp.

Of course, this practice requires a delicate balance between crediting past performances and projecting future success — a tedious tug of war between production and potential.

And it begins with No. 50, a second-year freshman who snagged the lone interception in May’s Purple vs. Gold game.

50. Elijah Jackson, freshman, 6-1, 190

Position: Defensive back

Potential role: Next in line at cornerback behind established starters Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon.


Why he’s ranked here: After the spring game, Lake called Jackson “an extremely hard worker. He’s very intuitive and wants to always learn the next thing. He reminds me a lot of Sidney Jones, how Sidney Jones was as a freshman. I’m very excited about his speed, his agility, the way he’s playing faster now. He still has to play faster, but I really believe he’ll end up being one of our next corners after those two starters — Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon.”

49. Sawyer Racanelli, freshman, 6-2, 210

Position: Wide receiver

Potential role: Racanelli will have to scratch and claw for targets in a crowded, new-look wide-receiver room.

Why he’s ranked here: As simple as it sounds, Racanelli catches the football — and that consistency could help him find the field this fall. UW senior Terrell Bynum said in April that “he’s looking like the most consistent guy in terms of balls being thrown to him and him catching it. He’s for sure earning a role in the offense.”

48. Jacob Bandes, redshirt freshman, 6-2, 305

Position: Defensive line

Potential role: Should provide depth behind Tuli Letuligasenoa and Sam “Taki” Taimani.

Why he’s ranked here: Bandes was a four-star recruit and a top-100 prospect out of Pittsburg (California) High School in 2019, but he has failed to make a significant impact in Seattle. That could change this fall as Bandes and fellow redshirt freshman Faatui Tuitele will be counted on alongside established entities Letuligasenoa and Taimani. With UW employing three defensive linemen more often to stop the run, Bandes and Co. are set to receive added opportunities.

47. Nate Kalepo, redshirt freshman, 6-6, 340

Position: Offensive line

Potential role: Ulumoo Ale’s backup at left guard.

Why he’s ranked here: There’s a talent log jam on the offensive line, and that’s a good thing for position coach Scott Huff and offensive coordinator John Donovan. The Huskies return all five starters up front — including mammoth 6-6, 365-pound left guard Ulumoo Ale. Regardless, Kalepo — a former four-star recruit from Renton — has the size, physicality and mobility to help if/when he’s needed.  


46. Mark Redman, freshman, 6-6, 250

Position: Tight end

Potential role: Run blocker and red-zone target behind All-Pac-12 standout Cade Otton.

Why he’s ranked here: UW has no shortage of eligible options at tight end, but Redman projects to be a complete player in the mold of Cade Otton and Drew Sample. Near the end of spring, tight-ends coach Derham Cato called Redman “one of the most improved guys on the offense.” He’s a punishing blocker and a reliable pass catcher with the size to be a red-zone terror.

45. Matteo Mele, sophomore, 6-5, 300

Position: Offensive line

Potential role: Backup right tackle and spot starter at other positions.

Why he’s ranked here: Mele made an emergency start at center for the injured Nick Harris in a road win at Arizona in 2019, and impressed. He practiced primarily at right tackle this spring but has the mobility and versatility to slot in at any spot. In a physically demanding 12-game season, he’s a valuable safeguard for position coach Scott Huff.

44. Alphonzo Tuputala, redshirt freshman, 6-2, 230

Position: Inside linebacker

Potential role: Contributor behind starters Edefuan Ulofoshio and Jackson Sirmon.

Why he’s ranked here: A quartet of redshirt-freshman linebackers — Alphonzo Tuputala, Daniel Heimuli, Miki Ah You and Drew Fowler — continue to contend for available reps behind Ulofoshio and Sirmon. Of that group, the 230-pound Tuputala has most earned the coaches’ trust, contributing in all four games last fall. But he missed the second half of the spring and had a boot on his right foot during the Purple vs. Gold game, so his availability is difficult to project.

43. Alex Cook, junior, 6-1, 195

Position: Defensive back

Potential role: Should compete for starting safety reps and contribute on special teams.


Why he’s ranked here: A converted receiver, Cook started at safety in the first three games of 2020 but failed to make a lasting impression — contributing eight tackles without an interception, a sack, a forced fumble or a pass defended. Still, the 195-pounder is an impressive athlete who will duel with Dominque Hampton, Asa Turner, Cameron Williams and Julius Irvin at safety.

42. Taj Davis, redshirt freshman, 6-1, 200

Position: Wide receiver

Potential role: Will compete for targets in a crowded wide-receiver room.

Why he’s ranked here: After opting out of the 2020 season, Davis entered the spring as an afterthought in the wide-receiver room. But after piling up an array of impressive catches, he has entered the conversation for potential contributions. And yet there are only so many balls to go around, and Terrell Bynum, Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Giles Jackson appear to be eligible options. We’ll see if Davis can chisel out a role.

41. Troy Fautanu, redshirt freshman, 6-4, 315

Position: Offensive line

Potential role: The heir apparent behind Jaxson Kirkland at left tackle.

Why he’s ranked here: Fautanu seems to have solidified himself as the Huskies’ future left tackle, a big body with light feet who appeared in all four games last fall. First-team All-Pac-12 performer Jaxson Kirkland remains UW’s battering ram on the blind side, and rightly so. But Fautanu will soon step in as the starter.

Close but no cigar: RB Jay’Veon Sunday, DB Jacobe Covington, QB Sam Huard, P Race Porter, TE Jack Westover, K Peyton Henry