Tag Archives: Kavario Middleton

Reasonable Expectations

We’ve recently had a flurry of Mariners activity on the blog, which is surprising considering how boring the Mariners’ activity has been.  Matthew has been on a posting roll though, and I’m not about to stop him.  With that being said, I’m going to change pace for the night and talk about some Husky football.  What’s that, football?  You thought we forgot about you?  Sorry that you feel that way and that you felt neglected.  The Good Guys recognize your that you are only about a month and seven days from camp starting and we will proceed to talk about you more often.

There’s a reason I don’t write about college football much from spring football to the start of the fall camp.  All that’s happening in the college football world is endless speculation and I don’t care much about what national ‘experts’ have to say about the Huskies because it usually contains 3 topics, “Keith Price, ASJ, and a terrible defense.”  They aren’t usually wrong but they aren’t giving me any new information.  But, today I wandered down to the store and picked up my first college football magazine of the season.  I do enjoy reading those because it marks the start of the college football period to me and the part about local teams is generally written by local writers who know what they’re talking about.

Anyway, I was struck by how well thought of Shaq Thompson is.  I was stoked when he committed but, with the crazy amount of activity that goes on during signing week, the true excitement never really sunk in.  That got me thinking, what can we reasonably expect from Shaq Thompson this year?

I’ll start off (because the last three paragraphs were for the benefit of getting my brain working and didn’t actually count as part of this post.  Tricked you!) by saying the Huskies have never had an incoming freshman as highly ranked as this.  Old news, right?  Well, yes but it’s easy to forget and something we have to think about to do research on past players of this magnitude.  Recruiting ranking services have only grown in the last few years but have been around for a long time.  I’ll take my research back until 2002 because that’s how far Rival.com and Scout.com have their data going back to.  Since 2002, the Huskies have only had one defensive 5-star recruit.  So, this is kind of unprecedented territory for the Dawgs.  Here is the names and the amount of success the Huskies 5-star commits have had since 2002 (all rankings were from Scout because I like their local scouting more than Rivals).

Donny Mateaki (DE) 2002 – Mateaki was ranked 4th overall at his position and 44th in the top 100.  Mateaki was a starter throughout most of his career but never was at an all-conference level.

Jon Lyon (TE) 2003 – Lyon was ranked at 40th overall and 4th at his position.  He was at a JC though  Lyon was also a starter but wasn’t close to a star.

Kavario Middleton (TE) 2008 – Middleton was ranked 3rd at his position and 29th overall, as well.  We know the story here, Middleton was clearly talented but didn’t mesh well with coaching staffs and left UW without making much of a mark.

Kasen Williams (WR) 2011 – Williams was ranked 2nd at his position and 22nd overall.  That makes him the highest on this list.  Obviously, he’s only played one year and started in the latter half of the year.  He has a promising future.

Austin-Seferian Jenkins (TE) 2011 – ASJ was also second at his position and 32nd overall.  The same goes as above, promising but not proven.

Wow, what a terrible list.  Sure, Kasen and ASJ look good thus far but the rest of this list is not much to write home about.  None of them had a significant NFL career, although I’d be shocked if that didn’t change with ASJ and Kasen.  This doesn’t bode well for Shaq but, then again, those guys weren’t ranked in the same league he is as far as the ratings go and this is just some bad luck.  It does go to show that 5-star guys aren’t always sure things.  All 5 of these guys did contribute in their true freshman season though.  The next list is the top rated safeties (what Thompson was) dating back to 2002.

2002 – Pat Watkins, FSU – Watkins didn’t play until his sophomore year in college but then did go on to have a pretty successful career.  He was drafted in the 5th round and played for about 5 years in the NFL.  Watkins wasn’t at the highest college level but he was a very good player.

2003 – Brandon Owens, Minnesota – Owens was injured his junior year and didn’t return from the injury.  He played as a true freshman and was good but not a star.

2004 – Drew Kelson, Texas – Kelson played 4 years in Texas and played as a true freshman.  He was a draft prospect but didn’t have much of an NFL career.

2005 – Kenny Phillips, Miami – Phillips played his true freshman year and had the most successful career of any guy so far on this list.  He was drafted 31st overall in 2008 and has been successful in the NFL.

2006 – Myron Rolle, FSU – Rolle played right away as well and a very successful college player (although probably not to the level of Phillips) and was drafted in the 5th round.  He was great but I think the guy behind him was probably more well thought of.  That guy is Taylor Mays.

2007 – Chad Jones, LSU – Jones was very successful and played on offense and defense.  We could see some of that from Thompson.  He was drafted in the 3rd round.

2008 – Will Hill, Florida – That’s a cool name!  Hill played right away for Florida and was named to the All-SEC freshman team.  He had a successful career but wasn’t at an all-conference level.  He was signed as an undrafted free agent after playing arena football and is now with the New York Giants (the last 4 guys have all played for the Giants at one point or another.  Weird).

2009 – Craig Loston, LSU – Loston’s career at LSU will probably last until 2014 and he’s been injured in the past 3 seasons.  There still seems to be some promise in him.

2010 – Keenan Allen, Cal -Allen is a wide receiver at Cal and I debated whether I should move him to the number 2 ranked safety.  I decided no, obviously, because Allen has been so successful at Cal.  He started right away and has been awesome for them and for Matthew who is his Pac-12 fantasy football league owner.

2011 – Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama – Clinton-Dix (which is a hilarious name when you think about it) seems to have red-shirted last year, but at a place like Alabama that’s not so surprising.

So, that was a list of 10 guys.  There weren’t any huge superstars (aside from maybe Allen and Phillips) but only 2 of the 10 red-shirted their freshman year.  Most of them made the NFL and several played on both sides of the ball.  This list is a lot more promising than the Huskies group of 5-star guys.

For the last list, I compiled all of Scout’s recruits (since 2002) that were ranked number 3 overall.  I’m not going to provide any analysis on them until the end.  In 2003 and 2004, Scout didn’t rank the top 300.

  • 2002 – Devin Hester
  • 2005 – Eugene Monroe
  • 2006 – Sam Young
  • 2007 – Marvin Austin
  • 2008 – Julio Jones
  • 2009 – Jacobbi McDaniel
  • 2010 – Robert Woods
  • 2011 – De’Anthony Thomas

I didn’t include analysis because the only thing I can really add is that these guys are really good.  Sam Young may be the worst of the group and he was on the freshman All-American team and has had a decent NFL career.

All of that information and partial analyzing leads me to believe that Shaq Thompson is likely to play this year.  In all of the players that I listed, all but 6 played in their true freshman year.  I don’t think we can expect him to be a star right away though.  Even De’Anthony Thomas went through growing pains in his first year.  With that being said, Thompson is likely going to be the best defensive talent we’ve seen on the Huskies since the 90’s.  Sure, sometimes these guys flop but looking through the history of recruits ranked this high shows that most have a high success rate.

Don’t expect the Huskies defense to be great because Shaq Thompson is on the field.  It takes 11 guys and even Shaq will have a few problems but the Huskies are a lot better with Thompson than they are without him.  Keep your expectations reasonable but be excited, especially when you read those pre-season magazines.

Thanks for reading,

Andrew

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Quick Husky Observations, Through 6 weeks

Positive observations—
– Chris Polk and Jesse Callier are an excellent backfield combo. They need more touches!
– Our margin for error is very, very small. It seems like the defense needs to hold the opponent under 24 points, while the offense needs to score more than 24. One of these two typically occurs each game, but having them coincide has been a challenge.
– Locker is one heck of a leader, and doing just about everything he can out there given the hand he’s been dealt. Jake deserves more. He deserves a bowl game, a defense that can occasionally shut out an opponent, an o-line that will protect him, and receivers that will catch the ball consistently.
– We have the right coach leading the program. Recruiting, developing, charisma, and of course in-game coaching, he has it all.

Negative observations—
– Our offense is great at times, and very out of sync other times. Inconsistency is a theme on this team.
– Defense lacks big play potential, and still does not have the athletes to fair well in pass coverage and – – Fundamentals leave much to be desired: tackling, pass catching, kickoff coverage to name a few
– Our defense is like the Mariners offense; multiple contributors must play above their ability, and timely plays need to be made in big situations. Typically this doesn’t happen.
– The void at tight end is being felt. Kavario Middleton took some plays off here and there, but he commanded attention, and had big play potential.
– There is still not enough speed on this team, especially on defense.
– Desmond Trufant is not the shut down corner we saw glimpses of last year, and Quinton Richardson has a few bonehead moments every game it seems. The secondary, which many had thought might be the strength of the defense, is not performing well.
– In a year where the Pac-10 is as strong as ever, the Huskies are close to getting lost in the shuffle, which also means the pre-season bowl hopes are fading quick.

To summarize, the Huskies have 1 predictable win (Syracuse), 1 unexpected win (USC), 1 predictable loss (Nebraska), and 2 toss up game losses (BYU and Arizona State). That leaves UW at 2-3, when 3-2 is probably what we had hoped for at this point. So of course there are more negatives that positives. . Of course, a win on Saturday will change everything!

-Dan

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Kavario Middleton and Josh Shirley

I’ve been gone for almost a week now and have missed out on some interesting things.  Some of those things included a Mariner scuffle that I don’t have any problem with.  Maybe they should do it more often because it’s the most entertaining thing the team has done this season.  Instead of writing a couple of paragraphs about something that has been covered too much already I thought I’d write about something that is actually exciting: Husky football.

Over the last week two big things have happened, a departure and an arrival.  Lets end on the good note.

Kavario Middleton was kicked off the team last week.  The news seemed to come all of a sudden, but I wasn’t too surprised by it.  In fact, I haven’t talked to anyone who was too surprised by the news.  Middleton was kicked off for breaking team rules.  I’ve heard rumors about him failing a drug test but I don’t really know if that was true.

Middleton came to Washington as a 5-star recruit who was supposed to make UW Tight End U again.  He had moments.  In his home debut against BYU, Middleton made a few nice plays as a true freshman.  He had the size to look like he belonged and he had the hands to become an amazing pass catcher. 

That never happened.  Instead Middleton didn’t care.  He never worked hard enough to become a good blocker.  He was supposed to be a star in the pro-style offense that Sark brought but that never happened.  Sure, he had flashes but so does Casey Kotchman and we all know Kotchman won’t work out.  At least, he won’t work out for the Mariners.  Middleton wouldn’t have worked out for the Huskies. 

I watched Kavario quite a bit this spring.  I saw Sark try to get teach him in every way possible.  He would pull him aside and try to teach him privately.  He would yell across the field to tell him to block.  He would praise him whenever he did something good but Middleton would still take plays off and that would show in the games.  I absolutely agree with Sark in letting him go.  Maybe he’ll figure it out somewhere else.  He has the talent and he’s young, I wish him the best.

Now on to the good news.  Josh Shirley is a Husky!  I followed recruiting pretty closely this year and Josh Shirley was the one guy I was really disappointed that we didn’t get.  If he had committed on signing day, Shirley might have been a bigger name than Sean Parker. 

He is exactly what the Huskies have been looking for.  A DE/LB with speed off the end.  He was a mad man in high school and played really well in the all-star games that followed.  He may be a little underweight right now but he is expected to play right away.

Yes, he got into some trouble down in Pasadena.  Or did he?  Maybe UCLA just jumped to conclusions.  Shirley, at the moment, has no charges against him.  He didn’t have to post bail.  Yes, he obviously did something wrong but at this point we don’t know if it was just being in the wrong place at the wrong time or something more.  We aren’t picking up a Jeremiah Masoli here.  He has no record and is regarded as a good kid from everyone I’ve heard.

This could be a great pick up for years to come.  Welcome Josh!

Andrew

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Huskies Position Overviews – Tight End

Sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these.  Frankly, I can’t get my mind off of the UW basketball team so these have taken a backseat.  To try to avoid my growing nervousness (26 hours until game time!) I’ll cover tight ends today. 

Tight end is an interesting spot for the Huskies.  There is no doubting that the Dawgs’ have talent at this position.  Here’s how I see the depth chart at this position:

Kavario Middleton, 6-5, 253, JR. – When Sark came over from USC, people expected big things from Middleton.  A tall, athletic tight end fits the pro-style offense that we run perfectly.  Unfortunately, last year wasn’t a coming out party for Kavario.  He had a solid year but struggled with the same inconsistencies that he had since arriving on Montlake.  Middleton came in as a 5-star prospect with big expectations.  He has the ability to make plays that will conjure up memories of Jerramy Stevens (although Middleton isn’t crazy), but they don’t happen often enough.  If he ever puts it all together Middleton could be a first round NFL draft pick and a star for the Huskies.  For now, he’s just a solid player with a ton of upside.

What Middleton needs to improve on this spring:  Blocking, blocking, and more blocking.  The main gripe about Middleton is that he’s a liability when the Huskies are running the ball.  He has the size to be a good blocker but many reports say that he doesn’t put in the effort and would rather be catching passes.  There is no questioning Middleton’s pass catching ability, he might have the best hands on the team, but if he wants to be an NFL caliber tight end his blocking must improve.

Chris Izbicki, 6-3, 232, RS JR. – Izbicki, like Middleton, came to UW as a highly recruited rank.  A  few off the field issues landed Chris in Tyrone Willingham’s doghouse.  Thankfully, he got a fresh start last year and did some nice things.  He may not have the star potential that Middleton has but he is very capable of being a good pac-10 tight end.  Izbicki is a decent blocker and can turn into a good receiver.

What Izbicki needs to improve on this spring:  It seems like you know what you’re getting with Izbicki.  He will probably never fulfill the high expectations he had out of high school but he will be a solid contributor.  Through this spring Izbicki needs to continue to develop better hands so he won’t be considered a liability during passing downs.

Dorson Boyce, 6-2, 231, SR. – Boyce came into the program last year from junior college and contributed on special teams.  He is probably the best blocker out of this tight end group but his receiving skills are suspect.  Boyce was brought in to add depth to the position, he may struggle to see playing time at this position.

What Boyce needs to improve on this spring:  Boyce doesn’t have the skill set of the other guys but he works hard and is a solid blocker.  If he was to improve on his receiving dramatically then he may be in the conversation.  I don’t really think he has the ability to catch up to the guys in front of him regardless of what kind of spring he has.  But the great thing about this coaching staff is they love competition so if Boyce pushes the guys in front of him to be better than expect to hear Dorson’s name come up.

Marlion Barnett, 6-2, 220, RS FR. –  We’ve yet to see Barnett on the field because he red-shirted last year.  The coaches seem to like him judging from practice reports and I expect him to become a solid contributor in the years to come.  He is supposedly a very capable receiving tight end.

What Barnett needs to improve on this spring:  Barnett lacks size for a tight end and blocking pac-10 defensive ends may be a struggle for him.  Therefore, putting on weight and working on blocking this spring are essential.  If he does this I think he will see some time on the field next year, although it will probably in a limited role.

Overall position:  This is a position where the Huskies have a lot of talent but it is under achieving.  Unfair expectations may have been put on Izbicki but Middleton definitely has untapped potential.  At USC, Sark used his tight ends very effectively and I think Middleton has the capability to become a Fred Davis type player in this offense.  Obviously, this would be huge for an offense that already figures to put up quite a few points.

A few random thoughts and links after the jump.  Continue reading

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