Reasonable Expectations

We’ve recently had a flurry of Mariners activity on the blog, which is surprising considering how boring the Mariners’ activity has been.  Matthew has been on a posting roll though, and I’m not about to stop him.  With that being said, I’m going to change pace for the night and talk about some Husky football.  What’s that, football?  You thought we forgot about you?  Sorry that you feel that way and that you felt neglected.  The Good Guys recognize your that you are only about a month and seven days from camp starting and we will proceed to talk about you more often.

There’s a reason I don’t write about college football much from spring football to the start of the fall camp.  All that’s happening in the college football world is endless speculation and I don’t care much about what national ‘experts’ have to say about the Huskies because it usually contains 3 topics, “Keith Price, ASJ, and a terrible defense.”  They aren’t usually wrong but they aren’t giving me any new information.  But, today I wandered down to the store and picked up my first college football magazine of the season.  I do enjoy reading those because it marks the start of the college football period to me and the part about local teams is generally written by local writers who know what they’re talking about.

Anyway, I was struck by how well thought of Shaq Thompson is.  I was stoked when he committed but, with the crazy amount of activity that goes on during signing week, the true excitement never really sunk in.  That got me thinking, what can we reasonably expect from Shaq Thompson this year?

I’ll start off (because the last three paragraphs were for the benefit of getting my brain working and didn’t actually count as part of this post.  Tricked you!) by saying the Huskies have never had an incoming freshman as highly ranked as this.  Old news, right?  Well, yes but it’s easy to forget and something we have to think about to do research on past players of this magnitude.  Recruiting ranking services have only grown in the last few years but have been around for a long time.  I’ll take my research back until 2002 because that’s how far Rival.com and Scout.com have their data going back to.  Since 2002, the Huskies have only had one defensive 5-star recruit.  So, this is kind of unprecedented territory for the Dawgs.  Here is the names and the amount of success the Huskies 5-star commits have had since 2002 (all rankings were from Scout because I like their local scouting more than Rivals).

Donny Mateaki (DE) 2002 – Mateaki was ranked 4th overall at his position and 44th in the top 100.  Mateaki was a starter throughout most of his career but never was at an all-conference level.

Jon Lyon (TE) 2003 – Lyon was ranked at 40th overall and 4th at his position.  He was at a JC though  Lyon was also a starter but wasn’t close to a star.

Kavario Middleton (TE) 2008 – Middleton was ranked 3rd at his position and 29th overall, as well.  We know the story here, Middleton was clearly talented but didn’t mesh well with coaching staffs and left UW without making much of a mark.

Kasen Williams (WR) 2011 – Williams was ranked 2nd at his position and 22nd overall.  That makes him the highest on this list.  Obviously, he’s only played one year and started in the latter half of the year.  He has a promising future.

Austin-Seferian Jenkins (TE) 2011 – ASJ was also second at his position and 32nd overall.  The same goes as above, promising but not proven.

Wow, what a terrible list.  Sure, Kasen and ASJ look good thus far but the rest of this list is not much to write home about.  None of them had a significant NFL career, although I’d be shocked if that didn’t change with ASJ and Kasen.  This doesn’t bode well for Shaq but, then again, those guys weren’t ranked in the same league he is as far as the ratings go and this is just some bad luck.  It does go to show that 5-star guys aren’t always sure things.  All 5 of these guys did contribute in their true freshman season though.  The next list is the top rated safeties (what Thompson was) dating back to 2002.

2002 – Pat Watkins, FSU – Watkins didn’t play until his sophomore year in college but then did go on to have a pretty successful career.  He was drafted in the 5th round and played for about 5 years in the NFL.  Watkins wasn’t at the highest college level but he was a very good player.

2003 – Brandon Owens, Minnesota – Owens was injured his junior year and didn’t return from the injury.  He played as a true freshman and was good but not a star.

2004 – Drew Kelson, Texas – Kelson played 4 years in Texas and played as a true freshman.  He was a draft prospect but didn’t have much of an NFL career.

2005 – Kenny Phillips, Miami – Phillips played his true freshman year and had the most successful career of any guy so far on this list.  He was drafted 31st overall in 2008 and has been successful in the NFL.

2006 – Myron Rolle, FSU – Rolle played right away as well and a very successful college player (although probably not to the level of Phillips) and was drafted in the 5th round.  He was great but I think the guy behind him was probably more well thought of.  That guy is Taylor Mays.

2007 – Chad Jones, LSU – Jones was very successful and played on offense and defense.  We could see some of that from Thompson.  He was drafted in the 3rd round.

2008 – Will Hill, Florida – That’s a cool name!  Hill played right away for Florida and was named to the All-SEC freshman team.  He had a successful career but wasn’t at an all-conference level.  He was signed as an undrafted free agent after playing arena football and is now with the New York Giants (the last 4 guys have all played for the Giants at one point or another.  Weird).

2009 – Craig Loston, LSU – Loston’s career at LSU will probably last until 2014 and he’s been injured in the past 3 seasons.  There still seems to be some promise in him.

2010 – Keenan Allen, Cal -Allen is a wide receiver at Cal and I debated whether I should move him to the number 2 ranked safety.  I decided no, obviously, because Allen has been so successful at Cal.  He started right away and has been awesome for them and for Matthew who is his Pac-12 fantasy football league owner.

2011 – Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Alabama – Clinton-Dix (which is a hilarious name when you think about it) seems to have red-shirted last year, but at a place like Alabama that’s not so surprising.

So, that was a list of 10 guys.  There weren’t any huge superstars (aside from maybe Allen and Phillips) but only 2 of the 10 red-shirted their freshman year.  Most of them made the NFL and several played on both sides of the ball.  This list is a lot more promising than the Huskies group of 5-star guys.

For the last list, I compiled all of Scout’s recruits (since 2002) that were ranked number 3 overall.  I’m not going to provide any analysis on them until the end.  In 2003 and 2004, Scout didn’t rank the top 300.

  • 2002 – Devin Hester
  • 2005 – Eugene Monroe
  • 2006 – Sam Young
  • 2007 – Marvin Austin
  • 2008 – Julio Jones
  • 2009 – Jacobbi McDaniel
  • 2010 – Robert Woods
  • 2011 – De’Anthony Thomas

I didn’t include analysis because the only thing I can really add is that these guys are really good.  Sam Young may be the worst of the group and he was on the freshman All-American team and has had a decent NFL career.

All of that information and partial analyzing leads me to believe that Shaq Thompson is likely to play this year.  In all of the players that I listed, all but 6 played in their true freshman year.  I don’t think we can expect him to be a star right away though.  Even De’Anthony Thomas went through growing pains in his first year.  With that being said, Thompson is likely going to be the best defensive talent we’ve seen on the Huskies since the 90’s.  Sure, sometimes these guys flop but looking through the history of recruits ranked this high shows that most have a high success rate.

Don’t expect the Huskies defense to be great because Shaq Thompson is on the field.  It takes 11 guys and even Shaq will have a few problems but the Huskies are a lot better with Thompson than they are without him.  Keep your expectations reasonable but be excited, especially when you read those pre-season magazines.

Thanks for reading,

Andrew

2 Comments

Filed under Huskies Football

2 responses to “Reasonable Expectations

  1. Matthew

    Keenan Allen, love that guy. Best receiver in the Pac-12, which means maybe the best in the country. I had no idea he was thought of as a safety coming in.

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