Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Strongest position group: Washington
By Kevin Gemmell
Every team has a strength -- that one position group that can make a play on offense or make a big stop on defense when needed.
Based on what happened this spring, we're going to look at the strongest position group for each school. It could be on either side of the ball -- and it could be subject to change after fall camp goes into full swing.
We're going in reverse alphabetical order.
Strongest position group: Tight ends
Headliner: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (41 catches, 538 yards, 6 touchdowns)
Supporting cast: Michael Hartvigson (8/30/1), Evan Hudson (1/2/1).
The skinny: I went back and forth a bit with the Huskies, teetering between the tight ends -- my first instinct -- and defensive backs. There's some good depth in the secondary -- and I think a legitimate argument can be made. But after speaking with one coach and swapping a few emails with everything-Washington-guru Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, they confirmed my initial thoughts.
Stanford head coach David Shaw once described Seferian-Jenkins as "the next great tight end in the conference." Considering he uses the tight end more than any FBS coach in the nation, that's high praise. And rightfully so. Seferian-Jenkins will be an invaluable weapon for quarterback Keith Price as he adjusts to life without receivers Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar (though, ultimately, I think he'll be just fine with Kasen Williams and James Johnson as his wide receivers).
Coach Steve Sarkisian singled out his tight ends first and foremost when giving his post-spring evaluation, and has been big on Hartvigson of late. Hudson, a former walk-on who earned his scholarship, is a solid blocker in jumbo sets.
The conference has been trending of late toward more multi-tight end packages, and Washington's trio gives the Huskies the opportunity to run some diverse formations. All are 6-foot-6, ranging from 254 to 258 pounds, and there aren't many safeties than can cover that kind of size. They fit the West Coast scheme perfectly, and should be significant contributors.