Myers needs to awaken sleepers
Daunting challenges ahead
By: Richard Linde, Updated 18 January 2004
Photo by Kim Grinolds, dawgman.com
Reviled by fans, a scapegoat for the Huskies’ disastrous
running game in 2002, Brent Myers returns from a one year exile at Utah to
rejoin the Huskies’ coaching staff as the offensive line coach, taking over for
the departing Dan Cozzetto, who will join the staff of the San Francisco 49ers.
If the 2004 commitment list for Washington is any indicator, Myers will face
some daunting challenges on his return.
Why? Because Washington's last two recruiting classes (the
oral commitments from this year's class and the recruiting class from 2003) are
filled with offensive linemen who we classify as "sleepers." They are rated two
stars or less by the recruiting services.
A sleeper is a guy who has Division-1A potential but lacks pro
potential and the elite status accorded to more highly rated players. Although
he’s a guy who can come to the fore and become one of the best linemen in the
conference, the odds for success are against him and, especially so, for a
recruiting class that is filled with questionable offensive linemen.
Seventy-five percent of the offensive linemen recruited by
Washington over the past two years could be classified as sleepers. (See Table 1
Putting this in perspective, Eric Sondheimer of the Los
Angeles Times writes, “Most of UCLA's six offensive line commitments have
"sleeper" written all over them for a position at which the Bruins need
In 2003, the Bruins gave up the most sacks of any team in
the conference and their rushing offense finished ninth in the conference. The
UW finished sixth in rushing
Over the past three seasons, the Huskies’ running game has
been next to moribund, averaging a squalid 102.7 yards per game.
And pass blocking tailed off last season after a solid
season the year before.
In 2003, the Huskies allowed 35 sacks in 485 passing
attempts, finishing ninth in the conference, surrendering 255 yards in losses,
despite having a mobile quarterback, Cody Pickett, with a quick release and the
ability to throw on the run. The Huskies averaged 119 yards per game running the
ball, a figure that tailed off during their last three games.
All indicators point to deficiencies in the offensive line.
Despite a dire need for quality
offensive linemen, the Huskies failed to bring in local product, four-star
recruit Aaron Klovas out of Graham Bethel. He's ranked as the best offensive
lineman from the
state of Washington and is going to Oregon. According to rivals.com, Washington
State gets the second best in the state, Andy Roof (rated four stars).
Klovas is a member of the Long
Beach Press-Telegram's "Best in the West."
Reportedly, Klovas was headed to
Washington before Rick Neuheisel was sacked. Neuheisel brought in four quality
offensive linemen in 2002; however, two of them failed to pan out because of
physical problems. The other two, Scott White (four stars) and Clay Walker
(three stars), should see considerable action in 2004. White is listed as a
linebacker on the Huskies' roster.
Three of the Seattle Times'
Red-Chip players, who are projected to play on the offensive line, are going to
Washington (Tyler Ashby, Casey Bulyca, and Ryan Bush).
Red Chips are players out of the state of
Washington considered capable of being starters in a major conference or stars
at the Division I-AA level. The Times lists Klovas and Roof as
blue-chippers, that is, players from the state of Washington that are considered
capable of stardom in a major conference such as the Pac-10.
Four of the Times' blue-chip student athletes
have committed to the UW, namely, Matt Tuiasosopo (QB), Keauntea Bankhead (WR,
DB), Johnny Kirton (RB), and Walter Winter (LB). USC legacy-player Chancellor
Young, son of Charlie Young, has not committed. Tuiasosopo
is also a member of the Long Beach
Press-Telegram's "Best in the West."
As of now, securing commitments from half of the
Times' blue-chip list qualifies as good news for the Dawgs. However...
Using average stars as a metric,
our table below ranks the Huskies next to last in the conference in recruiting offensive
linemen over the last two years.
Unfortunately, earthy statistics
such as those shown in the table, like the proverbial chicken coming home
to bear roost and the purse that can't be made from a sow's ear, correlate with
last year's standings in the Pac-10, particularly at the top.
In other words, I'm concerned.
The Huskies may sign another
offensive lineman or two before letter-of-intent day on February 4, and improve their
status. According to the recruiting services, they are pursuing a three-star
product listed as a soft commit to USC. Rivals.com ranks the Huskies' overall
class as seventeenth in the nation, with the UW trailing USC, UCLA and Oregon in
As of now, with these six sleepers
from the last two recruiting seasons, OL coach Myers has his work cut out
for him. However...
Of all the positions in college
football, the offensive lineman is the most malleable. I'll sleep on that.
Table 1. Offensive linemen recruited in 2003 plus the
offensive linemen committing in 2004. A sleeper is rated two stars or less. The
Pac-10 ratings were taken from the insiders.com.
Washington's Oral Commitments (Offensive Linemen), 2004
Tyler Ashby, OL, 6-4, 290, Seattle (Ballard) (2 stars;
Casey Bulyca, OL, 6-7, 285, Woodinville HS (3 stars;
Ryan Bush, OL, 6-4, 285, Puyallup (Rogers) (2 stars;
Nathan Flowers, OL, 6-4, 280, Chula Vista (Calif.) HS
Javon O'Connor, OL, 6-5, 295, Los
Angeles HS (2 stars)
2003 Season Recruits
Erick Berglund, OL, 6-7, 278, Beaverton,
Oregon, (1 star)
Juan Garcia, OL, 6-3, 275, Yakima,
Washington (2 stars)
Chad Macklin, OL, 6-8, 275, Visalia,
California (3 stars)
Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at