The Huskies have a combined 97 career starts returning on the offensive line for 2018.
The Huskies’ Sept. 1 season opener against Auburn is a mere 164 days away, and another season of great anticipation inches closer with the start of spring practices a week from today. We continue a daily series of spring position previews with a look at the offensive line.
Trey Adams, sr., 6-8, 331
Jared Hilbers, jr., 6-7, 309
Luke Wattenberg, so., 6-5, 306
Jaxson Kirkland, rs-fr., 6-7, 316
Chase Skuza, rs-fr., 6-6, 311*
Nick Harris, jr., 6-1, 297
Matt James, sr., 6-5, 300
Cole Norgaard, rs-fr., 6-4, 286
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Jesse Sosebee, sr., 6-5, 306
Henry Roberts, jr., 6-6, 313
Devin Burleson, jr., 6-8, 334
A.J. Kneip, so., 6-2, 295*
Kaleb McGary, sr., 6-8, 325
Henry Bainivalu, rs-fr., 6-5, 300
Coleman Shelton, graduated
Andrew Kirkland, graduated
M.J. Ale, fr., 6-6, 361
Victor Curne, fr., 6-3, 313
Matteo Mele, fr., 6-5, 277
Note: The above list is a fluid projection of the depth chart, not an official depth chart from the team.
SPRING OUTLOOK: We started our position previews Monday with quarterbacks. The situation there is, in a word, awesome. On Tuesday, running backs — and the outlook there is even more awesomer (yes, awesomer). Today, we shift to the offensive line, and the Huskies’ outlook here is the mostest awesomest of all. The Huskies have essentially four starters back on the line, presuming 2016 all-Pac-12 first-team left tackle Trey Adams returns to full strength from knee surgery, and if we’re counting third-year sophomore Luke Wattenberg, who took over at left tackle for the second half of the 2017 season after Adams went down. Add in right tackle Kaleb McGary, a first-team all-conference pick, and Nick Harris, one of the most improved players on the team last year, and the Huskies have the foundation for what could be the best line in the Pac-12 next fall.
BIGGEST QUESTION: Who takes over at center?
As awesome as things are on the line, Coleman Shelton’s graduation is a significant loss. He started the past four years, the past two at center as one of the most underappreciated players on the team. Matt James, a senior, has been the primary backup at center the past couple years and should get every opportunity to take over as the starter. The hunch here is Harris, a junior up to 297 pounds, will get the chance to shift over from guard and try out at center. Harris is a terrific success story. Besides UW, his only other scholarship offers out of high school were from New Hampshire and Cal Poly. But he wound up starting against Alabama in the College Football Playoff and then all 13 games last fall, earning all-Pac-12 honorable-mention recognition. He has the personality and savvy to handle the added demands at center.
KEY STAT: 97
The Huskies have a combined 97 career starts returning on the offensive line: McGary (33), Adams (30), Harris (17), Sosebee (10), Wattenberg (5) and James (2).
BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: Wattenberg is a candidate for sure, wherever he ends up. An illness in 2016 caused him to lose considerable weight and redshirt that season, but he’s up to 306 pounds now and likely ticketed for a starting job at one guard spot. Jared Hilbers, with his size and length, is intriguing too. Redshirt freshman Henry Bainivalu had a strong camp last summer and figures to get significant snaps this spring. He’s projected long-term at tackle, but it wouldn’t at all be a surprise if he makes a push for a starting role at guard.