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Huskies Have Lost Third of Their Football Roster in a Month

Nearly 40 players have graduated, entered the portal, de-committed or retired since mid-December.
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You park your late-model SUV in the driveway and return home to find it up on blocks, wheels removed, catalytic converter missing and leather seats gone.

This is the University of Washington football team right now, stripped bare, a shell of its former self, immobile. 

Since entering practices for the College Football Playoff semifinals game against Texas in the Sugar Bowl, the Huskies not only have lost a head coach, but nearly 40 players — or a third of the roster.

This includes graduating seniors, juniors with eligibility remaining, roster players entering the transfer portal, portal players joining the roster and exiting, a committed 2024 recruit and a committed 2025 recruit. Almost half of the scholarship players will turn over. 

When Kalen DeBoer took over the Huskies 26 months ago, he said the job was a reload rather than a rebuild.

The current situation, unfortunately for everyone left behind, is a massive rebuild.

If the UW had to play a football game today, just five starters remain from the opening lineup that took the field against Michigan last Monday in Houston, or 23 percent.

Still Huskies, for now, are No. 1 center and second-team All-Pac-12 selection Parker Brailsford, offensive guards Nate Kalepo and Julius Buelow, linebacker Alphonzo Tuputala and cornerback Elijah Jackson.

That's it. 

The biggest concern is the quarterback position where the Huskies have just 17-year-old Austin Mack and Demaricus Davis, presumably 18, holding down the spot without any college game experience. 

Since the UW-Michigan game on Monday night, quarterback departures include senior senior Michael Penix Jr. (eligibility complete), junior back-up Dylan Morris (James Madison transfer), one-time San Diego State transfer and sophomore Will Haskell (back in the portal) and Mississippi State transfer, graduate senior and designated Penix successor Will Rogers (returned to the portal).

Offensively the Huskies also are looking to replace an entire starting receiving corps, the No. 1 tailback, the starting tight end and both game-opening tackles, with Troy Fautanu and Roger Rosengarten pulling 28 consecutive starts each over the past two seasons.

Just the interior offensive line remains intact.

On defense, the Huskies need two new starting edge rushers, defensive linemen and safeties, plus a new starter at linebacker, cornerback and nickelback. That leaves two familiar faces and Tuputala wasn't guaranteeing he would return when asked before the CFP semifinal game.

In just the past couple of days, 16 veteran players with college eligibility remaining have said their goodbyes to Montlake, some before DeBoer took his job, many of them all along expected to leave early for the NFL draft, and yet others as part of the fallout from the coaching change.

They include wide receivers Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Ja'Lynn Polk, cornerback Jabbar Muhammad, nickelback Mishael Powell, safety Asa Turner, running back Dillon Johnson, edge rusher Bralen Trice, offensive tackles Troy Fautanu and Roger Rosengarten, defensive tackle Faatui Tuitele, cornerback Jaivion Green, quarterbacks Morris and Haskell, and walk-ons Griffin Waiss and Austin Harnetiaux, a tight end and a linebacker.

Whoever takes over the program is going to have to start over in many respects, as if this were an expansion franchise. Again, it's a massive rebuild, not a reload. Overnight, the Huskies have gone from top 20 team and feared Big 10 contender to unknown quanity.  

Oregon followers must be enjoying this UW football predicament and can be heard saying try and beat us a fourth consecutive game now.

It's such an overwhelming challenge, even a miracle worker such as Kalen DeBoer would have trouble doing anything but starting over and rebuilding.

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