Trey Adams' return from knee surgery is one of the top storylines leading up to UW's opener against Auburn.
The Huskies open fall camp on Friday. Here, in one reporter’s estimation, are Washington’s 10 most intriguing players entering camp (plus a couple bonus selections):
TREY ADAMS, senior left tackle
This list is done alphabetically, but Adams would nonetheless jump to the very top of the list as the most intriguing … and perhaps the most important … the most touted … and the most biggest (just play along, OK?) because, well, because he’s a 6-foot-8, 330-pound former first-team all-Pac-12 left tackle who some are projecting as a high NFL draft pick next spring. What’s most most intriguing is that Adams is coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament, surgically repaired last October, and his availability for the opener against Auburn is one of the Huskies’ top storylines in August. Auburn has one of the best D-lines in the SEC, and the Huskies’ will certainly want (need?) to be close to full strength for college football’s premier game of the opening weekend.
SALVON AHMED, sophomore running back/kick returner
In a limited role, the former Juanita High star impressed with his tantalizing speed and fluidity as a true freshman last year. He’s entrenched as Myles Gaskin’s primary backup, capable of lining up in the backfield or in the slot. He’ll return kicks, too, and could be in line for a 1,000-yard all-purpose season.
TEVIS BARTLETT, senior linebacker
This time of year, there is a lot of hype and anticipation about the incoming freshmen: Who “looks” good? Who might be able to contribute early? That’s all well and good — and, yes, we have a couple freshmen included on this list — but Chris Petersen is right when he often talks about seniors being the ones who have to take those proverbial next steps for a team to reach its potential. Generally, freshmen can only raise the floor of a team’s potential; it’s the seniors who raise the ceiling for what, in UW’s case right now, could be a special season. All that in mind, Bartlett is the type of player who seems primed for a breakthrough senior season after switching from outside linebacker to weak side linebacker in the spring. That figures to give the former national champion wrestler more responsibility and more opportunities to be around the ball and make plays in the middle of the defense.
AARON FULLER, junior receiver
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Jake Browning called Fuller the MVP of the summer while leading workouts and keeping teammates in line. After a strong finish in 2017 (including a career-high six catches for 61 yards and a touchdown in the Fiesta Bowl), Fuller was the most consistent of any of the receivers during the spring, and appears fully capable of taking over as Browning’s next No. 1 target.
GREG GAINES, senior nose tackle
Gaines is another senior who, with Vita Vea now in his first NFL camp, will be expected to take on a greater role (and likely an extra offensive lineman) this season. There is injury concern here after Gaines aggravated a knee injury and missed most of spring ball. He was expected to be OK by the start of fall camp — and so we’ll see. Gaines initially tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee in late October last year, then re-injured it in the Fiesta Bowl.
JAKE HAENER, redshirt freshman QB
If all goes well for the Huskies, Haener won’t play a meaningful snap this season as Browning’s backup. Of course, assuming he does hold onto the No. 2 job, Haener would only be one play away from taking important snaps for a top-10 team, and thus his development is an intriguing as anyone’s.
PEYTON HENRY, redshirt freshman kicker
The Huskies are searching for an answer in the kicking game, and Henry, a teammate of Haener’s at Monte Vista High School (Danville, Calif.), had a leg up (ugh, sorry) on the competition in the spring. Henry doesn’t have the booming leg of Tristan Vizcaino, but what UW coaches are looking for is consistency — or something close to it — on short- and mid-range field goals, and Henry is expected to open camp as the No. 1 kicker. Sidenote: Can anyone think of another left-footed kicker in program history? Would Henry be the first? (These were the rare questions that stumped the great Husky historian Bob Condotta. If you have deep thoughts on the subject, Bob welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line should read “Bring Back Bob.”)
ALE KAHO, freshman linebacker
Because of his status as a five-star recruit — the first to sign with Petersen — it is easy to fall into the trap of hyping up Kaho. And that alone is reason enough for many to get excited about Kaho — nothing wrong with that. But that’s just part of the reason he’s listed here. During spring ball, the Huskies had just five healthy inside linebackers for six spots on the first-, second- and third-string defenses. Coaches had to closely monitor the snaps taken by Ben Burr-Kirven and Bartlett, so as not to overextend them. A healthy DJ Beavers would be a significant boost for the linebackers, and Brandon Wellington should be back at some point after tearing an ACL late last season. Until then, freshmen such as Kaho, Jackson Sirmon and MJ Tafisi figure to get many quality reps in camp to show if they’re ready to contribute.
JOJO McINTOSH, senior safety
TAYLOR RAPP, junior safety
There’s probably 12 dudes in the secondary who would classify as “intriguing” — or as “awesome” or “tubular” or pick your favorite radical ’80s adjective — but we’ll list the veteran safeties here because of their tremendous value and versatility at the back end of the defense. They form the best safety combo in the Pac-12 — Rapp was a first-team all-conference selection in 2017, and McIntosh was a second-team pick — and between them they have combined to play in 66 games and account for 267 tackles.
MARQUIS SPIKER, freshman wide receiver
As with Kaho, Spiker was one of the top-ranked recruits in the Huskies’ 2018 class, and that in itself creates a lot of anticipation about his potential impact this fall. As with Kaho, Spiker comes in at a position in need of help, and Spiker has the credentials to offer some. Last fall, he broke the California prep record for receiving touchdowns, finishing his career at Murrieta Valley High School with 72 touchdown catches. As a senior, he had 83 catches for 1,490 yards and 27 touchdowns. Austin Osborne, another freshman receiver, arrived in the spring and could see some early action this fall.
AMANDRE WILLIAMS, sophomore outside linebacker
A third-year sophomore out of Tahoma High, Williams had a productive spring, splitting time with Myles Rice at Bartlett’s old position (strong-side linebacker). Ryan Bowman established himself as a pass-rusher on the other side of the field last season; now the Huskies need Williams (or Rice or Joe Tryon or Ariel Ngata) to emerge off the other edge.