Signing day for college football is a week away, so it’s time for an update on the 2014UW recruiting class. Normally, we write quite a bit about recruiting, but it’s been hard to get a handle on the class this year, mostly due to the turmoil created by the coaching change.
No area is impacted more immediately and significantly by a coaching change than recruiting. Despite what they say, most players commit in large part to the coaching staff, so a change in coaches means lots of changes in the recruiting class. The Huskies only had seven commits before the change, and only two of them still remain committed to the Huskies, with one just decommitting tonight and another still undecided. Major changes like this are the norm in these transition years and are just one of the reasons these classes tend to be lackluster.
I don’t know if lackluster is an accurate description for this Husky class, however. It’s certainly not spectacular, but after a slow start, Petersen and company reeled in over a dozen recruits this month. They’re a solid bunch that should fill holes in the depth and provide some solid starters down the road. There are few if any obvious stars, but those are the hardest ones to get any time. It’s even harder in this case, since the staff is largely recruiting players they were after at BSU, and BSU just didn’t have the wherewithal to land many guys who are clearly elite. Still, this is a good group that looks much better than the last few coaching change classes. Put simply, it’s a better class than I expected, but probably not as good as the staff will need in the future to win the Pac-12.
After an unfortunate decommit from TE Chase Blakley tonight (to BSU, strangely enough), the class currently sits at 16. It’s unclear how many the coaches will take, but there’s scholarship room for 22 right now, and they might take a full 25, expecting more transfers before the fall. As I said, the class looks solid but not incredible. It’s heavy on defensive backs, the one roster group clearly short on numbers, and the rest of the positions are distributed pretty evenly.
The highest rated player is QB K.J. Carta-Samuels, who the Huskies landed after he was the victim of a coaching change himself. A longtime commit to Vanderbilt, he opened up his recruitment when James Franklin left for Penn State, and the Huskies were the lucky recipients. He’s another big, athletic QB with a good arm, and gives UW an impressive stable of young QBs and some insurance should one decide to transfer.
After KJCS, it’s hard to pick another standout right now. Sydney Jones, who committed last night, is drawing a lot of excitement as a big athlete who could play CB, safety or even WR. Offensive tackle Matt James is one of the few Sarkisian holdovers and projects to be a solid starter at a thin position. A trio of safeties, Darren Gardenhire, Jojo MacIntosh and Lavon Washington, all look good and could compete for immediate playing time, although it’s possible one or more might show up at safety instead. There are a number of other notable current commits, but we’ll talk about them when they actually sign.
At the top of the board are two Washington state standouts: Budda Baker and Kaleb McGary. Budda, a Bellevue High safety who could also play some offense, already endeared himself to Husky fans by dropping his Oregon commitment, claiming he couldn’t imagine living in Eugene for four years. He’s now choosing between UW and UCLA, and no one really has any clue what he’s going to decide. He’s a major impact player who could start immediately for the Huskies.
McGary, from Fife, is a huge athlete at 6′ 8″ 280 lbs who will likely play DE, or possibly OT or TE. He’s a bit of a project, albeit a highly rated one who looks like he could grow into a star. He’s looking at Oregon State and Wisconsin along with UW. While he grew up a Husky, he’s said he’s more of a country guy and might choose a smaller town over Seattle.
They’re in on a number of other guys as well. DE Jaylen Johnson is a big DE who was committed to BSU with Petersen. Most expect him to switch to UW soon, although these things are never a guarantee. RB/LB Kalen Ballage is an ASU commit who visited last weekend. He’s an incredible athlete and would be a major steal. CB Naijiel Hale, son of the late rapper Nate Dogg, is visiting this weekend, although it seems a longshot he’ll become a Husky at this point. S/LB Drew Lewis, another local boy, was a longtime Husky commit, but is waiting to see if USC will make a late offer before he decides.
There aren’t any more glaring holes to be filled on the roster, so I imagine the staff will look to fill the rest of the class with the best players they can get. Another WR would be nice, and maybe a linebacker and D tackle. The fun part of a new coaching staff is that new names pop up every day. Don’t be surprised if something major happens in the next week.
Signing day is on Wednesday February 5th, and we’ll be back then, if not before. If you’re looking for more updates, leave a question in the comments, or follow http://www.uwdawgpound.com and dawgman.com.