Jesse Sosebee beats out senior Andrew Kirkland for the starting job at left guard.
There are no major revelations, no real surprises, with Washington’s first depth chart, released Monday evening ahead of Friday’s season opener at Rutgers.
What is revealing about the makeup of the No. 8 Huskies is this: This is still a relatively young team.
Of the 50 players on the two-deep, just 10 are seniors.
The bulk of the depth chart is made up of juniors (20) and sophomores (15), all of whom got a taste of college football biggest stage during the Huskies’ run to the national playoffs last season.
That framework suggests that, yes, the window is wide open this year for the Huskies to make another playoff push, and should stay open for at least another year with this nucleus.
The Huskies return 15 regular starters from last season, when a young team faced heightened expectations for the first time. UW coach Chris Petersen appreciates the way they’ve handled similarly high expectations going into Friday’s opener.
“I just thought they handled their business like we wanted them to (last year). They played hard every game,” Petersen said Monday.
“The expectations going into this game is just that we play hard, and it’s going to be a hard-fought game that’s going to go down to the fourth quarter. That’s the expectations that these kids need to be focused on, nothing else, not what anybody else on the outside is saying. … The expectations are that it’s time to cut it loose, it’s time to go out and play and hopefully we can win the game at the end. That’s the expectations.”
The depth chart also includes four redshirt freshmen and one true freshman, Salvon Ahmed, debuting on the depth chart, though Petersen said last week that he expects four other true freshmen to play: tight end Hunter Bryant, cornerback Elijah Molden, cornerback Keith Taylor and safety Brandon McKinney.
Ahmed, the former Juanita High running back, was the talk of fall camp in the first week, and he’s believed the No. 3 running back. He’s listed as the No. 2 kickoff returner in this week’s depth chart, behind wide receiver Chico McClatcher.
The good news for the the Huskies is they won’t have to count on a number of freshmen in significant roles, as had been the case in Petersen’s first two seasons at UW. They can, for now, ease those five freshmen into things, while (most) of the rest of the newest class should benefit from redshirting.
“If guys are ready to play and they can help your team, then play them,” Petersen said. “A lot of them are much more advanced than years ago. The coaching is awesome. They lift weights year-round. Some of these guys get specialized, which I don’t like. I don’t think that’s better for them. But they’re just more ready to play. And so you play them.”
Redshirt freshman cornerback Byron Murphy, one of the emerging stars in UW’s rebuilt secondary, will make his starting debut for UW against Rutgers. Sophomore Andre Baccellia and junior Brayden Lenius, two of the breakout players from fall camp, are listed as “or” starters at one outside receiver spot.
There is a mild one with junior Jesse Sosebee beating out senior Andrew Kirkland for the start job at left guard. Sosebee, a reserve guard last year, did start two games in 2015.
The rest of the offensive line this week includes returning starters Trey Adams at left tackle, Coleman Shelton at center, Nick Harris at right guard and Kaleb McGary at right tackle.
Junior Ben Burr-Kirven, the primary backup at weakside linebacker the past two seasons, is listed as Azeem Victor’s backup at middle linebacker. That means Burr-Kirven could make his first career start against Rutgers.