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Husky Secondary No Longer Star-Studded, But It Should Be Trustworthy

The UW returns just one full-time starter from the previous season.
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One of the secondary concerns for the University of Washington fan base when Jimmy Lake was fired as coach was the Husky secondary. Could it still be a program calling card? Or would "DBU" become a quaint reference quietly retired?

While Lake's parting gift to the UW was a pair of cornerbacks selected among the top 39 players in April's NFL draft, the truth is his staff encountered somewhat of a recruiting dry spell in recent seasons in failing to land a monster defensive back.

Or did you not notice the mostly inherited No. 1 Husky defensive backfield when spring practice finished up for Kalen DeBoer and his new staff: A former walk-on and a transfer at corners, a converted wide receiver and a reclamation project at safeties, and journeyman going from cornerback and safety to the new hybrid role.

To be sure, there were no Budda Bakers, Sidney Joneses or Trent McDuffies coming in as true freshmen during the Lake head-coaching regime in Montlake and taking over as instant starters.

Jacobe Covington was supposed to be one of those elite guys, someone who would push everyone aside and take over, but he's at USC now, entering his third college season and still looking for meaningful playing time.

A reconfigured Husky secondary of Mishael Powell, Jordan Perryman, Alex Cook, Asa Turner and Dominique Hampton is projected to be a functional crew without all of the bells and whistles. There might not be a first- or second-round draft pick in the mix, but they should be veteran players whom the new staff can trust.

Alex Cook is the senior statesman in the UW secondary.

Alex Cook did a spring interview with Pac-12 Networks.

The prognosticators have this group ranked in the second tier of the Pac-12, just a notch down from where the Huskies usually appeared under Lake's direction as the mastermind DB coach, defensive coordinator and then head coach.

If there's a pro prospect among the top five defenders it's Perryman, the 6-foot, 198-pound newcomer from Hanford, California, a two-time All-Big Sky selection from UC Davis and a hand-picked player for DeBoer's staff. The sixth-year senior most likely is the reason Covington remained a reserve corner when spring ended and fled Montlake.

Perryman also hails from a Southern California town that once sent eventual NFL standout and an All-Pac-10 cornerback in Mark Lee to the Huskies, a good omen for sure. 

Credit to Lake, the 6-foot-1, 203-pound Powell appears to be the Edefuan Ulofoshio of the Husky defensive backfield. The sophomore from Seattle is someone once welcomed as a non-scholarship guy (same as the aforementioned linebacker) and who ultimately was turned into a first-teamer, if only part-time so far. He started three games as a walk-on last season before the school began covering his schooling with financial aid.

Safety was one of the more confounding positions for the Huskies throughout the entire 2021 season. Lake's staff had real issues determining the starters. The coaches went through seven players at the two spots. 

Julius Irvin and Kamren Fabiculanan initially were tabbed as the first-teamers when the season began, but Irvin lasted just two games and Kam Fab just one before others were elevated over them. 

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Cook and Turner have the No. 1 jobs now. 

As a sixth-year senior, the 6-foot-1, 194-pound Cook has taken on a secondary leadership role much like Elijah Molden and McDuffie before him. The Sacramento native started nine games in 2021, making him the only full-time returning regular among the DBs.

Injuries kept Cook out of the lineup at times, including a concussion suffered at Arizona that forced him to leave the field on a stretcher, get transported to a Tucson hospital and miss a subsequent game in recovery protocols. Yet he was back two weekends later.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Turner came in as an elite Husky recruit and has started 13 games over three seasons, including as a true freshman. Yet he hasn't gotten over the hump to realize greatness.

Turner seemed much more motivated this past spring to be a main player back there, with the new staff noticeably urging him to step up his game. The Carlsbad, California, product was a first-teamer throughout the month of April practices, holding off fellow junior Cam Williams, a 10-game starter who has split time with him in each of the three previous seasons.

Dom Hampton discusses his new position.

Dom Hampton met with reporters during spring practice. 

At the new Husky hybrid position, which replaces the nickelback with a variety of different responsibilities, is the 6-foot-3, 216-pound Hampton, who started three games at safety in 2021. 

A physical player from Glendale, Arizona, who originally came to the UW as a cornerback, Hampton is a fifth-year junior who seems perfectly suited for the role. He'll be on the attack. 

These five starting players might lack in star power, but they bring plenty of size to go toe to toe with opposing receivers, enough experience to be trusted and should form an acceptable Husky back line of defense.

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