A primer on UW's offensive line entering the start of spring practices Monday.
To count down the start of the Huskies’ spring football on Monday, we’ll offer a primer of each position unit, assessing what happened in 2016 and expectations for 2017.
Today: Offensive line
Projected depth chart:
Trey Adams, jr., 6-8, 320
Jared Hilbers, so., 6-7, 302
Luke Wattenberg, rs-fr., 6-4, 291
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Andrew Kirkland, sr., 6-4, 316
Jesse Sosebee, jr., 6-5, 310
Duke Clinch, rs-fr., 6-2, 303*
Coleman Shelton, sr., 6-4, 297
Matt James, jr., 6-5, 285
Nick Harris, so., 6-1, 287
Henry Roberts, so., 6-6, 295
John Turner, jr., 6-4, 290
A.J. Kneip, so., 6-2, 285*
Kaleb McGary, jr., 6-7, 310
Devin Burleson, so., 6-8, 321
2016 review: The Huskies found last fall something they had been missing for so long up front: stability. For the first time since 2001, the Huskies had an offensive lineman represented on the all-Pac-12 first team. It was, in fact, two linemen — left tackle Trey Adams and left guard Jake Eldrenkamp — earning first-team recognition, a nod to the major strides UW had made up front and to the offense as a whole. Coleman Shelton, after a smooth transition to center, was a second-team selection. The revolving door at right guard saw then-senior Shane Brostek, Andrew Kirkland and Nick Harris share time.
2017 outlook: Just when the line found some stability, there was a sudden turn late last month when veteran O-line coach Chris Strausser left to take a role as the assistant O-line coach with the Denver Broncos. The move was as curious as it was surprising. Strausser, a longtime Chris Petersen associate, has not spoken publicly about his departure. To replace Strausser, Petersen went back to Boise State to hire Scott Huff. “He’s a great guy,” Shelton said of Huff. “We knew any coach that Coach Pete was going to bring in would be a great hire. We’re excited to get working with him, and he seems fun and energetic and we’re getting ready for it.”
Huff has talent to work with. Three regular starters are back, and if you combine the experience of Kirkland (five starts in ’16) and Harris (four starts), that’s essentially another full-time starter back, too. Harris, who got the start vs. Alabama in the Peach Bowl, was a pleasant surprise as a true freshmen. Adams, up 11 pounds to 320 this winter, returns for his third season as the left tackle. Many have long projected him as a future first-round pick, and that could come to be as early as next year. McGary, finally healthy for a full season in 2016, is back to anchor the right side, and Shelton is one of the most respected leaders in the locker room. The left guard job figures to be wide open after Eldrenkamp’s graduation. Could be an interesting spring for once touted Bellevue recruit Henry Roberts, who has battled some injuries early in his career. Another former four-star prospect, Luke Wattenberg, has added 31 pounds since last year. The Huskies signed three linemen in February: Skyline’s Henry Bainivalu, Portland’s Jaxson Kirkland and Cole Norgaard of Clements, Calif.
Note: The first of UW’s 15 spring practices starts at 8:30 a.m. Monday. The Huskies will practice on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with a couple Saturday practices sprinkled in, leading up to the April 22 Spring Preview, which will be the lone workout open to the public. The preview begins at noon at Husky Stadium and will air on the Pac-12 Network.