Washington wide receiver Jalen McMillan runs with the ball during a game against Colorado on Nov. 19, 2022, in Seattle. Washington won 54-7. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Washington wide receiver Jalen McMillan runs with the ball during a game against Colorado on Nov. 19, 2022, in Seattle. Washington won 54-7. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

Analysis: UW offense returns plenty of firepower

The Huskies return seven starters from a unit that averaged 39.7 points per game last season.

By Mike Vorel / The Seattle Times

You won’t see much movement in Washington’s offensive depth chart.

Which, considering the past, is a positive.

After UW averaged a whopping 39.7 points a game last season — ranking second in the Pac-12 (behind USC) and seventh in the nation — the Husky offense returned seven starters this spring. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr., wide receivers Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Ja’Lynn Polk, tight ends Devin Culp and Jack Westover and tackles Troy Fautanu and Roger Rosengarten are all back and hoping to build on a breakthrough 2022.

They won’t have to do it alone.

Let’s dive into UW’s offensive depth chart, as the high-scoring Huskies head into the summer:

Quarterback

Michael Penix Jr., sr., 6-3, 216, Tampa, Fla. (Indiana)

Dylan Morris, jr., 6-0, 202, Puyallup

Alex Johnson, jr., 6-6, 214, Seattle

Analysis: The two-deep here is no mystery, as Penix returns after leading the nation and setting a program record with 4,641 passing yards in 2022. Junior Dylan Morris — who started 15 games across 2020 and 2021 — also brings stability as an experienced back up.

And even for Penix — who accounted for 35 touchdowns with eight interceptions in 13 games last season — there remains significant room to improve.

“For Mike, consistency in his footwork and not rushing through things when it’s not perfect is something he worked really hard on last year, but he can always improve on that and make sure you’re consistent in going through your progressions and not going too fast,” said UW offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb. “I think he’s better this spring than he was in the fall. So I feel like he’s taking that on. And then just always making good decisions. He didn’t make many bad ones last year.”

Washington didn’t tout a third scholarship quarterback this spring, but junior Alex Johnson — a Seattle product and recent Santa Barbara City College transfer — eventually earned the third-team reps. Four-star signee Austin Mack (6-foot-6, 215 pounds), who reclassified from 2024 into the 2023 class, likely will assume that role this summer.

Running back

Cameron Davis, jr., 6-0, 206, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Dillon Johnson, jr., 6-0, 216, Greenville, Miss. (Mississippi State)

Daniyel Ngata, jr., 5-9, 187, Reno, Nev. (Arizona State)

Richard Newton, sr., 6-0, 214, Lancaster, Calif.

Tybo Rogers, fr., 5-11, 192, Bakersfield, Calif.

Will Nixon, soph., 5-11, 200, Waco, Texas (Nebraska)

Sam Adams II, soph., 6-2, 206, Kirkland

Aaron Dumas, soph., 5-9, 199, El Paso, Texas (New Mexico)

Analysis: Is it tenable to carry eight scholarship running backs? That remains to be seen, and it’s possible a player or two exits before the transfer portal window closes Sunday.

But as it stands, junior Cameron Davis earned the vast majority of starting reps this spring, and coach Kalen DeBoer said following the Spring Preview last Saturday that he “just stands out more than others.”

Still, despite spring injuries, don’t misunderstand: Mississippi State’s Dillon Johnson and Arizona State’s Daniyel Ngata were not aggressively pursued this offseason to man the sidelines. Johnson, in particular, remains a physical and versatile fit for DeBoer’s system and should push Davis for starting reps this fall.

Richard Newton, Will Nixon and Sam Adams II all contributed in 2022, but it’s unlikely all three will receive similar roles — considering UW’s additions. The wild card here is freshman early enrollee Tybo Rogers, who left an impression in his first spring on campus and could leapfrog returnees into immediate playing time.

Regardless of how it shakes out, UW’s running back room is a whole lot deeper than it was a year ago, which should pay dividends.

Wide receiver

Rome Odunze, jr., 6-3, 215, Las Vegas

Denzel Boston, rs. fr., 6-4, 185, South Hill

Jabez Tinae, soph., 6-0, 187, Seattle

Jalen McMillan, jr., 6-1, 189, Fresno, Calif.

Giles Jackson, sr., 5-9, 176, Antioch, Calif. (Michigan)

Germie Bernard, soph., 6-1, 207, Las Vegas (Michigan State)

Ja’Lynn Polk, soph., 6-2, 205, Lufkin, Texas (Texas Tech)

Taj Davis, jr., 6-2, 200, Upland, Calif.

Analysis: Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Ja’Lynn Polk’s roles are essentially set, and returning contributors Giles Jackson and Taj Davis also figure to rotate in.

Which begs the question: can redshirt freshman Denzel Boston and sophomore Germie Bernard — both of whom flashed this spring — consistently find the field as well?

“I think receiver is a little bit easier than most positions [to play more guys], because we can personnel group our guys and get them reps,” DeBoer said. “Coach Grubb and the offensive guys always do a good job. There’s [unique] roles. I love seeing those guys make plays, because they continue to push even our top guys.”

A trio of freshman wide receivers — Rashid Williams, Taeshaun Lyons and Keith Reynolds — will join the fray this summer. But given the returning talent, all three seem ticketed for redshirt seasons.

Tight end

Jack Westover, sr., 6-3, 247, Bellevue

Devin Culp, sr., 6-4, 236, Spokane

Quentin Moore, jr., 6-4, 248, Kenmore

Josh Cuevas, soph., 6-3, 236, Los Angeles (Cal Poly)

Ryan Otton, rs. fr., 6-6, 233, Tumwater

Analysis: UW returns the sixth-year tight end tandem of Jack Westover (31 catches, 342 yards, 1 TD) and Devin Culp (29, 266, 1) in 2023. And in an offense overflowing with intriguing wide receivers, it’d be easy to overlook the unassuming tight ends. But while Westover (who missed part of the spring with a minor injury) and Culp provide Penix with dual security blankets, UW also is developing impressive depth.

Namely, junior Quentin Moore earned rave reviews for his ability to absorb the Husky offense this offseason, and sophomore Cal Poly transfer Josh Cuevas offered surprising physicality and blocking ability — after being brought in this winter primarily as a pass-catcher.

Redshirt freshman Ryan Otton, meanwhile, remains “a ways away” — Grubb’s words — after missing much of the 2022 season with an injury.

Expect Culp and Westover to earn the majority of Washington’s tight end reps, with Moore and Cuevas also pushing for playing time.

Left tackle

Troy Fautanu, jr., 6-4, 312, Henderson, Nev.

Robert Wyrsch, soph., 6-7, 290, Capitola, Calif.

Left guard

Julius Buelow, jr., 6-8, 310, Kapolei, Hawai’i

Gaard Memmelaar, soph., 6-4, 302, Caldwell, Idaho

Center

Matteo Mele, sr., 6-6, 295, Tucson, Ariz.

Parker Brailsford, rs. fr., 6-2, 272, Mesa, Ariz.

Landen Hatchett, fr., 6-2, 309, Ferndale

Right guard

Nate Kalepo, jr., 6-6, 323, Renton

Geirean Hatchett, soph., 6-4, 297, Ferndale

Myles Murao, soph., 6-3, 299, Torrance, Calif.

Right tackle

Roger Rosengarten, soph., 6-6, 303, Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Samuel Peacock, soph., 6-6, 290, Gig Harbor

Zachary Henning, fr., 6-5, 290, Centennial, Colo.

Analysis: UW was tasked with replacing three offensive line starters — left guard Jaxson Kirkland, center Corey Luciano and right guard Henry Bainivalu — this offseason. But there’s more returning experience than you might think.

Center Matteo Mele and right guard Nate Kalepo rotated heavily last season and thus were obvious options to step into starting spots. And 6-8, 310-pound behemoth Julius Buelow — who operated as UW’s starting left guard through most of the spring — started five games at that spot in 2021.

Sophomore Geirean Hatchett appears to be UW’s next man in, practicing both at right guard and right tackle this spring. And though Mele seems set to start at center, redshirt freshman Parker Brailsford and early enrollee freshman Landen Hatchett earned consistent compliments from the coaching staff.

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