With the regular season over, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at UW’s top 2015 contributors by class. Here’s how I sorted it out (and we’re going by eligibility remaining here, not by actual academic standing, FYI).
1. LB Travis Feeney (12 games, 11 starts, 53 tackles, 15.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks)
2. TE Joshua Perkins (12 games, 7 starts, 33 catches, 470 yards, 3 TDs)
3. OL Siosifa Tufunga (12 games, 12 starts)
4. DT Taniela Tupou (12 games, 12 starts, 35 tackles, 4.5 TFL)
5. DB Brian Clay (12 games, 11 starts, 57 tackles, 1.5 TFL)
Comment/outlook: The Huskies only list 14 seniors on their roster, so they’ll obviously have a pretty small graduating class (and, therefore, a small 2016 recruiting class). But they did get some production out of their oldest players in 2015. Feeney was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection, reaping the benefits of his move to buck linebacker and turning into one of the league’s top pass-rushers. Perkins became one of UW’s steadiest pass-catchers, and will finish his career tied for the fourth-most touchdown catches, and sixth-most receptions and receiving yards by a UW tight end. Tufunga, Tupou and Clay stepped into full-time starting roles after limited contributions earlier in their careers. Feeney probably leaves the biggest void.
1. WR Jaydon Mickens (12 games, 12 starts, 50 catches, 597 yards, 2 TDs)
2. LB Cory Littleton (12 games, 12 starts, 59 tackles, 11.0 TFL, 6.0 sacks)
3. WR Marvin Hall (12 games, 1 start, 5 catches, 162 yards, TD)
4. P Korey Durkee (45 punts, 1,935 yards, 43.0 per punt)
5. LS Ryan Masel (12 games)
Comment/outlook: Slim pickings here, partially because UW’s 25-man 2012 recruiting class had dwindled to just 11 players before the season started, and only a few played as true freshmen. Mickens again led the team in receptions and will leave UW as its No. 2 career pass-catcher behind only Reggie Williams. Littleton started 30 games in his career and rounded out maybe the best linebacker corps in the Pac-12 this season. Hall’s contributions were limited, but he was good for a trick play every now and then, and Durkee and Masel were mainstays at punter and longsnapper (hey, longsnappers are people, too).
1. RB Dwayne Washington (9 games, 6 starts, 47 carries, 282 yards, 4 TDs, 25 catches, 315 yards, 3 TDs)
2. OL Jake Eldrenkamp (12 games, 10 starts)
3. LB Psalm Wooching (12 games, 21 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks)
4. QB Jeff Lindquist (11 games, 12 carries, 36 yards, TD)
5. *RB Deontae Cooper (9 games, 15 carries, 96 yards, TD)
Comment/outlook: (That bit about the 2012 class applies here, too). Washington and Eldrenkamp were the two most important players in this group, though both battled injuries this season. Eldrenkamp is part of a starting offensive line that loses only Tufunga, so it seems he should pencil in as the starting left guard as a fifth-year senior in 2016. Wooching showed marked improvement and was a capable fill-in for Feeney at the buck spot. Lindquist obviously didn’t get to play much this season – he didn’t even attempt a pass – but it seems that he’ll have some kind of role as long as he’s on the roster. Cooper was hampered by an ankle injury suffered in the week before the season opener and never really carved out much playing time after that (*and yes, he is technically a 6th-year junior). If Washington comes back healthy, he could still have an important role out of UW’s backfield, even if Myles Gaskin now has an iron grip on the starting tailback position.
1. CB Kevin King (11 games, 8 starts, 39 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3 INTs, 8 PD)
2. DL Joe Mathis (10 games, 6 starts, 26 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks)
3. K Cameron Van Winkle (12 games, 13-of-17 on FGs, 44-of-44 on PATs)
4. TE Darrell Daniels (12 games, 8 starts, 18 catches, 241 yards, TD)
Comment/outlook: Just going with four players here, because there wasn’t really a fifth who contributed enough to make the list. King moved from safety to cornerback as a junior and found a useful home as UW’s nickelback, and he will again be one of the staples of the secondary next season. Mathis missed some time due to injury but proved to be the kind of “splash” player at the defense end spot that defensive line coach Jeff Choate describes him as. Van Winkle was again pretty steady on field-goal tries, though the miss in the opener at Boise State might linger for a while. Daniels, I think, could be a breakout candidate in 2016 – he caught a few more passes toward the end of the season, still has exceptional speed for a tight end (he started as a receiver, remember), and there will be somewhat of a void there with Perkins gone. Plus, David Ajamu is recovering from a major knee injury, so Daniels and redshirt freshman tight end Drew Sample should have the inside track toward earning the starting job (though even with Perkins in the fold this season, coaches rotated personnel pretty regularly). It’s worth noting, too, that John Ross III would have been listed here had be been healthy.
1. LB Azeem Victor (12 games, 10 starts, 88 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 5 PD, INT)
2. LB Keishawn Bierria (12 games, 11 starts, 70 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks)
3. DT Elijah Qualls (9 games, 8 starts, 24 tackles, 3.5 TFL)
4. OL Coleman Shelton (12 games, 12 starts at 3 different positions)
5. OL Andrew Kirkland (11 games, 6 starts)
Comment/outlook: A big impact for this group on the defense, obviously, with Qualls, Victor and Bierria seizing starting positions from the get-go. Each performed probably better than most outsiders would have expected, and Victor and Qualls both look like legitimate NFL prospects. Shelton was UW’s most valuable lineman, starting every game and switching positions a handful of times – he played left tackle, left guard and right guard. Kirkland was somewhat of a surprise toward the end of the season, earning a few starts at right tackle before making his debut at left tackle in the Apple Cup in place of Trey Adams.
1. S Budda Baker (11 games, 11 starts, 42 tackles, 2 INTs, 1.5 TFL, 8 PD)
2. CB Sidney Jones (12 games, 12 starts, 40 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 4 INTs)
3. CB Darren Gardenhire (12 games, 8 starts, 41 tackles, 2 INTs)
4. WR Dante Pettis (12 games, 7 starts, 28 catches, 384 yards, TD; 16 punt returns, 271 yards, 2 TDs)
5. WR Brayden Lenius (12 games, 6 starts, 26 catches, 307 yards, 3 TDs)
(Notable: DL Will Dissly; S Ezekiel Turner)
Comment/outlook: Chris Petersen’s first recruiting class at UW is already earning accolades. Baker and Jones are the heart and soul of the Huskies’ defensive backfield, and each earned first-team All-Pac-12 recognition (and if UW had a better record, I think Jones might garner some second or third-team All-America consideration, too). Gardenhire was kind of the mystery player in the secondary this season, but he developed into a reliable cornerback and also looks like he will be an essential part of that crew in the future. Pettis and Lenius probably didn’t produce as much as expected, but the duo did account for six touchdowns, and each looked a little better in the final third of the season.
1. DT Greg Gaines (12 games, 5 starts, 26 tackles)
2. OL Kaleb McGary (11 games, 5 starts)
3. OL Jesse Sosebee (11 games, 2 starts)
4. DT Vita Vea (12 games, 16 tackles, 2.0 TFL)
5. S JoJo McIntosh (12 games, 37 tackles, INT, 3 PD)
(Notable: OL Matt James; TE Drew Sample; DL Jaylen Johnson; QB K.J. Carta-Samuels)
Comment/outlook: Not sure anyone thought UW would get as much production at nose tackle as it did from Gaines and Vea, who didn’t miss a beat when Qualls missed three games due to injury – Gaines was even good enough to merit honorable mention on the All-Pac-12 team – and those guys formed an impressive three-man rotation even before Qualls got hurt. McGary looks like he has a chance to be the right tackle of the future, as he split time there with Kirkland and James at varying times throughout the season. James and Sosebee gained some valuable experience, too, and I’d be surprised if McIntosh doesn’t replace Clay – or at least play a bunch – as the starting strong safety next season.
1. QB Jake Browning (11 games, 11 starts, 210-for-334 passing, 2,671 yards, 16 TDs, 10 INTs)
2. RB Myles Gaskin (12 games, 6 starts, 201 carries, 1,121 yards, 5.6 ypc, 10 TDs)
3. LT Trey Adams (10 games, 9 starts, co-winner of UW’s Most Outstanding Freshman award)
4. LB Ben Burr-Kirven (12 games, 34 tackles, TFL, sack)
5. WR Chico McClatcher (12 games, 7 catches, 72 yards, TD; 15 carries, 127 yards, 3 TDs)
(Notable: WR Isaiah Renfro, LB Tevis Bartlett, CB Jordan Miller)
Comment/outlook: A lot of promise here. Browning took his lumps and made a few rookie mistakes, but there’s no question he improved throughout the season, and seems to have all the tools to continue evolving into an upper-tier Pac-12 quarterback. Gaskin was the team’s biggest surprise, and pretty easily the offense’s best player. His future is as bright as anyone on the roster. Adams looks like another important piece of the future, if he can stay healthy. Coaches had high praise all season for Burr-Kirven, who was named UW’s special-teams player of the year, and looked pretty solid at linebacker, too. McClatcher was a nice weapon as a gadget-type player, and his role should only expand as he gains experience.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple