Which UW Transfer Portal Newcomers Will Make a Difference?

Each player will have a significant challenge in earning a starting role, excessive playing time.

Texas Tech wide receiver Ja'Lynn Polk, Texas A&M rusher Jeremiah Martin and Colorado State quarterback Patrick O'Brien have joined the University of Washington football roster, bringing in a separate group of college-experienced newcomers the Huskies haven't had before.

Once these guys climb out of the transfer portal and look around, you would have to wonder what they think of Seattle and all the rain.

Oh yeah, the two from the Lone Star state will find the climate a lot more appealing than the freezer they just left.

A more pressing question is this: Will any of them start or play a significant role for the Huskies? 

The UW always has welcomed the occasional transfer, such as recently departed defensive tackle Josiah Bronson and quarterback Kevin Thomson, who arrived from Temple and Sacramento State, respectively, in recent seasons. 

The Huskies also have had the well-publicized miss, such as Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello, who toured Husky Stadium and its adjoining facilities, and then signed up to play at Mississippi State for Mike Leach.  

It didn't go unnoticed that Costello was a bust in the South, throwing 11 interceptions in six games and losing his starting job.

Will any of these newbies make returning players step aside for them or will they end up seated like K.J. Costello?

Ja'Lynn Polk

Of this trio, Polk represents the guy most likely to play a significant role for the Huskies. If for no other reason, he comes off a free freshman season at Texas Tech per NCAA pandemic rules and has three or four years of eligibility remaining while the other pair of newcomers are seniors. With starter Ty Jones opting for Fresno State, Polk is a natural roster replacement for him.

However, he faces stiff competition to become an immediate starter from senior Terrell Bynum, junior Puka Nacua and redshirt freshmen Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan, all guys who pulled opening assignments during the short pandemic season. If Polk can beat out two of them for a starting role this upcoming season, then this guy has to be good.

Jeremiah Martin

He's 6-foot-5 and 263 pounds and was supposed to be a standout, but Martin clearly was an underachiever at Texas A&M, limited to special teams and back-up duty. If he thought drawing edge-rusher playing time was tough in College Station, wait until he gets a look at junior Zion Tupuola-Fetui, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection; senior Ryan Bowman, a 2019 second-team All-Pac-12 pick; and redshirt freshman Sav'ell Smalls, a one-time 5-star recruit. Add to this group projected starter Laiatu Latu, a sophomore who missed last season with an injury.

Not only are the first-team assignments doled out here for the Huskies, but the second-teamers are firmly entrenched, as well.

Patrick O'Brien

This new player might have the most difficult path to significant playing time. No reflection on his talent level, which first took him to Nebraska and then to Colorado State, but O'Brien has to contend with last year's starter in sophomore Dylan Morris, generally a mistake-free quarterback who was solid in his debut season, and incoming freshman Sam Huard, designated as a 5-star recruit and anointed as a UW franchise player.

O'Brien started a dozen games over two seasons at Colorado State and threw for a combined 3,391 yards and 16 touchdowns, but the Rams were just 4-8 in those games. He does have a 35-for-52, 405-yard, 1-TD outing against Toledo on his resume to show big single-game numbers. If he can move past Morris and/or Huard on the depth chart, it will be a huge surprise. 

Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven

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