State of the Dawg Nation: Washington Huskies' Emerging Talents Under Coach Sark

Mike MartinCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2011

Jake Locker with Coach Sark
Jake Locker with Coach SarkOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Two things popped out at me from all of the free-agent signings of the University of Washington's draft-eligible players this week.

Firstly, years back, when there were 16 rounds in the NFL draft, many of these players would have been selected.  Those are the days when the Huskies were having eight players taken year in and year out. 

With the reduction of the rounds, the Huskies had two players drafted: Jake Locker and Mason Foster.  Victor Aiyewa was thought to be a late-round draft pick, but he wound up in Tampa on a free-agent contract.

Others who have signed are:
--- receiver D'Andre Goodwin (Denver)
--- fullback Austin Sylvester (Denver)
--- offensive lineman Cody Habben (San Diego)
--- safety Nate Williams (Baltimore)
--- and fullback Dorson Boyce (Seattle)

(this list is was liberated from Bob Condotta's blog on

Secondly, that's eight players that were at the heart of an 0-12 season...most notably quarterback Jake Locker, a top-10 draft pick. 

I am of the opinion that had Jake continued under former coach Tyrone Willingham, he would have been battered and bruised by the time he made it to the NFL.  That's not even mentioning that he would have solidified bad habits and techniques that are not sought by the NFL.

That is eight men whose careers were careening down a canyon wall and on the verge of blowing up entirely when they hit rock bottom.  Since the "season to forget," Coach Sark, Coach Holt and Coach Ivan Lewis transformed eight afterthoughts into NFL-calibre athletes.

Washington had nine draft-eligible players and two were drafted.  On the other hand, down in Eugene, of Oregon's 11 draft-eligible players, one was drafted.

Perhaps the biggest representation of the emergence of talent under Coach Sark is that eight of the nine players eligible now have NFL contracts.  That's a remarkable transformation. 

That's eight men who can thank Coach Sark for resurrecting their athletic careers.  Poles apart are Chip Kelly's Ducks with four free-agent signings from a BCS championship squad.

From day one, Coach Sark said he was going to transform the Huskies.  In two short years, the transformation has taken hold. 

No longer is he having to transform hold-overs from a defunct regime but molding men with sought-after skills, techniques and physiques.