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Washington Football: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Huskies

Washington Football: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Huskies

Washington Football: 5 Newcomers to Watch for the Huskies

Championships have returned to Montlake with Chris Petersen at the helm of Washington football. Last season marked the Huskies' second Pac-12 championship in three seasons, after not winning a single league title for the 15 years from the end of 2000 to '16.

A new golden age seems to be underway in Seattle, and the best may still be to come. That's because Washington signed its two best recruiting classes in 2018 and '19, after having already reestablished as a West Coast power. The cachet of talent donning purple next season may be the most impressive since the early '90s. There may not be ample opportunities for youngsters to see the field in 2019, but there will be some chance to make an impact.

Puka Nacua, WR

A huge addition on the 23rd hour of National Signing Day (February version), Washington snagged Nacua from a list of Pac-12 suitors — arch nemesis Oregon among them.

The high-four-star prospect caught a staggering 57 touchdowns in four years at Utah's Orem High, 50 of which came in his junior and senior seasons. He racked up 2,336 yards worth of receptions as a senior, enough to lead all prep players across the nation in 2018. He's got the frame (6-2, 200) to be a possession receiver complement to returning Aaron Fuller, and a worthy balance to big-play targets Ty Jones and Andre Baccellia.

Jacob Bandes, DT

A calling card of recent Washington teams has been the presence of big, physical interior lineman who both occupy blockers and make plays. Bandes is a product in the same mold of Danny Shelton, Elijah Qualls, Vita Vea, and Greg Gaines.

A high-four-star prospect, the 6-foot-2, 315-pound Bandes drew rave reviews for his performance at last summer's The Opening Finals, preceding an offer from national champion Clemson, per Rather than join Death Valley's Death Row, Bandes is poised to wreak havoc on the West Coast. He'll get an early start in spring practices.

Laiatu Latu, DE

Washington's defense has been one of the nation's best for three years running, but the 2018 team saw a dramatic dip in its sack output. The arrival of Latu could help reignite the Huskies' pass rush.

The high-four-star prospect from Jesuit in Carmichael, California, has remarkable size at 6-foot-5 and 270-plus pounds. Latu garnered interest from a variety of high-profile programs, including from former Washington assistant Tosh Lupoi at Alabama. His commitment to the Huskies adds another big, physical presence on the line.

Trent McDuffie, CB

The area of Washington's roster that's been the best over the past three seasons is the hardest hit by departures. With standouts Byron Murphy and Taylor Rapp gone from coach Jimmy Lake's secondary, a chance for a newcomer to make his statement exists. McDuffie is just such a newcomer.

McDuffie shined for southern California powerhouse St. John Bosco last season, intercepting three passes and breaking up 13 more pass attempts. His ball-hawking ability is comparable to that of 2018 Pac-12 Championship MVP Murphy.

Jacob Eason, QB

Eason is not exactly a newcomer — the Washington native returned home from Georgia last year and served as the Huskies' scout team quarterback — but he'll get to make his debut in game action in 2019. Eason started as a freshman for Georgia but transferred following the 2017 campaign.

The talented product of Lake Stevens High School brings his five-star billing to a Washington offense changing quarterbacks for the first time in four years. His season as understudy to four-year starter Jake Browning should make for a smooth transition — if not an immediate uptick in the Huskies' offensive production.

— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.