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I wrote earlier this month that things would get crazy before national signing day on February 1st, but I severely underestimated the situation. The past month or so has been the craziest offseason stretch I’ve ever seen for the Huskies. Since the Alamo Bowl, they’ve hired an entirely new defensive staff, added a few recruits, lost a few more, become players for several of the biggest recruits on the west coast, and pushed the entire California Golden Bear fanbase to the brink of insanity. Here’s a recap and some recruiting updates.
In the article linked above, I said, “Who knows, the Huskies might hire Tosh Lupoi from Cal or Ed Orgeron from USC, considered the two best recruiters in the Pac-12 and they could bring 5 players with them.” There were already rumblings that the Huskies were making a run at Lupoi, so this wasn’t any incredible prediction on my part. Still, I never believed they would actually lure him away from Cal, his alma mater. Nonetheless, they did, and everything immediately went crazy. Cal’s recruiting class, which had been ranked at the top of the Pac-12 took an immediate hit. They lost a couple of guys right away, most notably five star DT Ellis McCarthy to UCLA, and several more are still looking around.
One quick note. Cal fans are understandably upset about Lupoi’s departure. He was their golden boy, the guy who grew up miles from campus and had spent most of his adult life at Berkley. In their idyllic dream, he was expected to work his way up the coaching ladder at Cal and eventually take over for Tedford as head coach. It didn’t work that way, and no one can blame them for being disappointed and mad. Since then, they’ve come up with lots of crazy theories and rumors, the craziest being that Sarkisian hired Tosh just to ruin Cal’s recruiting class. That’s just crazy. The UW staff probably doesn’t mind if that happens, but it would be shortsighted and dumb to hire anyone for that purpose. They hired Tosh (and Eric Kiesau, Cal’s receivers coach and new UW offensive coordinator) because they are good coaches and recruiters. This was about the Huskies, not about ruining Cal. Besides, most of the players Cal is losing are going to other Pac-12 schools and not Washington, so it’s not like the Huskies won’t face them again. Anyway, moving on.
It’s hard to know if the the Huskies will end up with any Cal recruits, but my prediction above of five guys is looking pretty good. I doubt the Huskies end up with all of them, but five players who were either going to be Bears or were strongly considering them are now looking seriously at UW. Those five:
- Wide receiver Jordan Payton took a trip to Washington and it sounds like there’s a good chance he’ll be a Dawg. He’s a four star guy with good size who would likely make an immediate impact.
- I don’t know much about Kenny Walker except that he’s a running back/wide receiver who is reportedly on campus this weekend. This class could use another RB, and he’s the best one left on the board.
- Safety Shaquille Thompson has had the Huskies number two on his list all along, but it was widely believed he was a Cal lock, and he indeed committed to them a few weeks ago. Since the coaching changes, he’s reconsidered and will choose between Cal, UW, Oregon and UCLA. He says he’s narrowed it to three schools, but won’t say which ones. It doesn’t sound like even he knows where he wants to go right now, but I’m betting he ends up back at Cal. Still, the Huskies have a great chance at him. He would likely start immediately and might be the best defensive prospect on the west coast.
- Arik Armstead is one of the top few prospects in the country, and didn’t seem to be seriously considering UW until the last week or so. He wants to play defensive end but many think he profiles better as an offensive tackle. He never took an official visit to UW, so that might work against the Dawgs, but he has been on campus when his older brother visited a few years ago. Armstead’s recruitment has been crazy, but we’ll leave that for now. You can read all about it elsewhere if you’re interested. I don’t expect him to be a Husky. I’d bet on Cal, but who knows. That the Huskies are even in it is pretty crazy. He’ll announce tomorrow at 3:00.
- Cedric Dozier, a local kid from Lakes, originally committed to Cal as a wide receiver when the Huskies wanted him as a cornerback. UW has now offered him as a receiver and he’s on campus this weekend. Again, who knows here, but it sounds like he might announce on Monday.
Those are five of the bigger prospects still out there for the Huskies, and I think they’ll get at least Payton and hopefully more. Even if they don’t, that doesn’t make the Lupoi hire any kind of failure. I doubt Sarkisian expected to get much immediate payoff from the hire. His impact will come next year and into the future. Some other news and updates (as usual, everything here is what I’ve heard from other experts. It may or may not be accurate.):
- UW added junior college kicker Travis Coons the other night. Kickers are always a bit of a guessing game, but Coons has a huge leg that should at least make him a threat on kickoffs. Nick Folk, despite a bit of inconsistency his last two years, will be tough to replace. Expect the Huskies to add a walk-on or two as well.
- Jason Thompson, brother of Everette, decommitted from UW the other day. The Huskies were recruiting him as a safety, but he wants to play quarterback and will get that chance at Wyoming. Nothing wrong with that, and best of luck to him.
- Zach Banner, the last umcommitted big-time instate guy, is announcing his choice on Monday. Most of the experts are betting on USC, but UW still has a shot.
- Bellevue OG Jake Eldrenkamp committed to UW this week. He’s not as highly rated as some of the instate linemen that the Huskies have missed out on, but he’s still a talented kid at a position where the Huskies need some bodies. His good friend and fellow Bellevue lineman Michael Kneip will walk-on. He sounds like a guy who could contend for minutes down the road.
- Jaydon Mickens is the other receiver considering the Huskies. He’s a little guy who would bring some electicity and a different skill set to the team. UW and Oklahoma State are his final two, with most thinking he’ll be a Cowboy.
- Devian Shelton was an Oregon State commit who is reconsidering since the Huskies signed Beaver DB coach Keith Heyward. He’s a big guy who could line up at safety or cornerback. He sounds a lot like Brandon Browner to me. Best guess is he’ll be a Beaver, but the Huskies seem to be right there.
- Shane Brostek is the mystery man of 2012 recruiting. The son of former UW lineman Bern Brostek, the Hawaii native talks to no one and has gained almost a mythical status because of it. He’ll likely play offensive line, maybe defensive line, but he’s said nothing about where he’ll do so. Most have considered him a lock for UW, but it sounds like he’s also considering Oregon and maybe Hawaii and UCLA.
- Brandon Beaver is a top-rated cornerback who may or may not have already committed to UW. There was a big thing on Twitter a week or so ago that I won’t go into. He’ll probably be a Husky.
- A couple of defensive linemen have floated under the radar a little bit: Dylan Cozens and Pio Vatuvei. UW sounds like a clear leader for Cozens. Vatuvei is/was a USC commit but has been looking hard at UW.
- Alonzo Williams is a Long Beach guy who visited a while ago but then hasn’t said a whole lot. He’s a LB/DE who is down to UW and Texas A&M.
- Randall Goforth is a cornerback who was committed to ASU and started looking around with their coaching changes. For a while he seemed like he’d be a Dawg, but then he said that he liked the new ASU staff better than the old one. Who knows where he’ll go.
That seems like just about everyone who’s on the radar. It’s always fun when some surprises pop up this last weekend, so watch for that, but the majority of the rest of the Dawgs class will come from this group. They’re at 20 known commits right now, so expect them to add between 5-8 more, depending on who wants to come to the UW. Signing day is Wednesday!