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UW Recruiting Update

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.

Current Commitments

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.

Who’s Left?

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.

Go Huskies!

-Matthew

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UW Recruiting Thread

Update 1/31 10:25 P.M.  Matthew recapped the day pretty well below.  I’d recommend reading that because I won’t be analyzing any of these guys tonight (that will probably happen this weekend after they actually sign their letters of intent).  Needless to say, this was an amazing day.  The three weeks prior to this are the reason I hate recruiting.  There’s too much drama and too many fans up in anger about players they’ve never seen play, never researched, and don’t take the time to scout.  But, today was just simply fun.  We don’t know what Shaq, Payton, Brostek, or Mickens will do in the next 3, 4 or 5 years at U-Dub, but from reading scouting reports and watching plenty of tape there’s quite a bit to be excited about.

So, what will come in the morning?  A Good Guys running blog of signing day!  That’s what!  Oh, you were talking about the Huskies?  Well, the Dawgs sit at either 22 or 23 verbal commits.  The ‘or’ is because of Michael Rector, who is a receiver from Tacoma.  He had committed to the Dawgs but was accepted into Stanford and many think he will jump to them.  I believe UW will add 3-5 more guys tomorrow but I don’t know who they are.  Here’s some news on guys that will decide tomorrow and leftovers from a very eventful day:

Kenny Walker, who tripped to UW last weekend, has verbally committed to UCLA.  It sounds like he was offered as a receiver and his scholarship may have been pulled after Mickens and Payton committed today.

There is a rumor that there’s another big surprise commit tomorrow morning.  I think that it’s nothing more than a rumor, but at this rate anything is possible.

I think Brandon Beaver is a UW lean but no one knows for sure.  He may be the biggest name left out there that the Dawgs are in on.

Cleveland Wallace is also deciding between OSU and UW, but I think he is an OSU lean.  Both Wallace and Beaver are DB’s.

Devian Shelton, who seemed to have a little interest in UW, was offered by USC today and it sounds like he’ll be going there.

Dylan Cozens will be deciding tomorrow between UW and Arizona.  I don’t have much of a read on this one.  Matthew thought that earlier this week the Dawgs were a leader but I have no idea.

Pio Vatuvei was a former USC commit but has looked at the Huskies.  We won’t know until the morning on him either, but I don’t hear or read many rumors of him being a Dawg.

That’s some of what we have to look forward to tomorrow.  It should be a fun morning and I’ll try to keep the pace with the LOI that will be coming in.  I’ll be on here starting at about 6:45 tomorrow as I camp out here in Maple Valley.  Yes, I do proclaim tomorrow a holiday.  I suggest you should to.  That’s all for now.

-Andrew

Update 1/31 8:40 P.M. I wish we could have had some more updates throughout the day, but Andrew and I were almost as busy as I’m sure the Husky coaches and recruits were today.  And what a day it was.  The Shaq Thompson news broke last night, but if you throw him in with the other three commits today, that accounts for probably 4 of our 6 top recruits in this class so far.  I could talk about Shaq all day, but I’ll save that until he actually signs.  For now, here are the other three new Dawgs:

  • Jordan Payton is a receiver from the L.A. area who committed this afternoon on ESPNU.  He’s ranked the 15th WR in the country and sounds an awful lot like Jermaine Kearse: 6’2″, 205, good body control and leaping ability, not quite elite speed.  He’s said to have good hands, so hopefully those carry over to college and he doesn’t have Kearse’s drops problem.  Payton was a USC and Cal recruit previously who says UW felt like the place he was supposed to be.
  • Shane Brostek, the Hawaiian Bigfoot, as I saw him called today because of his lack of communication with the media, committed shortly after Payton.  His dad, Bern, was a Husky lineman.  Brostek is rated at 2 or 3 stars, but that’s probably partly due to lack of exposure.  They played his recruiting process as close to the vest as any I’ve ever seen.  I can’t vouch for this personally, but some people will tell you he’s a legitimate 5 star talent if he had gone to camps and stuff like most recruits.  Either way, Brostek’s a big boy with a lot of power and a reported nasty streak.  I’ve heard that he’s likely to start at center, but I wouldn’t be surprised by guard or defensive tackle either.  I’m excited about this one.
  • Jaydon Mickens, another wide receiver, just committed a few minutes ago.  He’s only 5’9″, but he’s quick and elusive.  Plan on seeing him in the slot and on end arounds and especially in the return game.  He’s another four star who had a big showing in a recent all-star game.  He should be a fun guy to watch.  We haven’t had a receiver who really makes people miss in a while.  Maybe I’m off, but I’m thinking in the mold of De’Anthony Thomas, although nowhere near as incredible.

As Andrew Tweeted a bit ago, this might be the best 24 hours of recruiting the Huskies have ever had.  I doubt they’ve ever had 4 players of this caliber commit in a day, anyway.  They’ve brought the UW class from about 45th in the country to the top 20.  That doesn’t mean a lot in the long run, but it gives you a good idea of their talent.  I’m betting Andrew will post his thoughts when he gets home in a bit, but if not, he’ll have a running blog up by around 7:00 tomorrow morning.  Go Dawgs!

-Matthew

Update 1/30 10:30 P.M.  SHAQ THOMPSON COMMITS TO U-DUB.  An absolutely huge get for the Dawgs tonight and seemingly out of nowhere.  I’m waiting for this all to be fake because of everything that’s happened lately on twitter, but this seems real since Sark just woofed.  I won’t be able to write anything very well right now because I’m too excited, but Shaq is rated as the top safety in the country.  He should get a chance to play right away.  This might be the biggest commit Sark has gotten since coming here.  I won’t completely believe this until his letter of intent arrives on Wednesday, but this seems real.

I’ll have more on him in the next couple of day, but this is huge.  It seems like this could be the start of some momentum to close this class.  Good night Dawg fans, today ended quite well. (I’ll be back on if anything else breaks tonight, but keep checking this thread tomorrow.)

Update 1/30 4:30 P.M.:  I’m about 2 hours late on this but, if you haven’t heard, Zach Banner has picked USC which is close to what everyone expected.  It really is unfortunate but we wish him well and it seems like he’ll have a good amount of success as a Trojan.

As Matthew mentioned in the comments, it sounds as if U-Dub has a chance with receiver, Jaydon Mickens.  In fact, it sounds like a good shot.

One more update is that Jordan Payton will announce his choice of school tomorrow at 1:30 on ESPNU.  Lets hope that the Huskies can land a few of these big names and finish in the middle of the Pac-12 recruiting rankings.

Update: 1/30 9:30 A.M.: Hi ho, Andrew here!  Happy Signing week.  I just have a few quick things to add to this recruiting thread, and I imagine we’ll be back on here at around 3 p.m. or so.

First off, I’d like to announce that we’ll have a live signing day thread starting Wednesday at about 7 AM.  We hope that you’ll follow along all day.  If you’d like to, add questions in the comments of that post (or this one) and we’ll try to answer them, preferably about recruits but anything about Seattle sports is fine with us.  You can also send us questions on our facebook page or twitter accounts.  I hope you’ll follow on what looks to be a very interesting day.

As Matthew mentioned last night (see below), Zach Banner, the last recruit in Washington who’s uncommitted and has an offer from UW, will announce his decision today at 2:30.  He’s a five-star recruit and would give this class a significant boost.  Unfortunately, it seems as if he is leaning towards USC.  I will say that most of everything that circles around right now is based on speculation and rumors.  As we learned in middle school, that’s not the most reliable source of information.  From the little I know about Zach Banner, he values family quite highly.  I think this is a big factor in his decision but I don’t know if it’ll be enough to go to UW.  He was often at Husky practices that I attended in the Spring and Fall and back then, I thought he would certainly be a Husky.  Right now, it’s not looking so good but I wouldn’t be completely surprised if he has picked to become a Dawg.

Dan always texts me and asks for a percentage or chance we have on a recruit.  Today, I think it’s around 30%.  So cross your fingers and toes Dawg fans and one of us will be back around 3 p.m. to give you the story of what happened.

-Andrew

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Signing day for recruits is three days away, with lots of news and rumors coming out all the time.  We’ll use this as a general recruiting post and update it as information comes out.

It’s currently Sunday night, and today saw the elimination of two major UW targets and a few interesting rumors.  The big news was five star lineman Arik Armstead of Sacramento announcing he would be an Oregon Duck.  I didn’t really expect UW to land the big man, but it would have been nice if he went to Cal instead of Oregon.  It’s easy to see why recruits like the Ducks right now, though, so I can’t really fault him.  We’ll see what happens if sanctions are levied and Chip Kelly leaves in the next couple of years.  Armstead seems like a good kid, and we wish him personal success and happiness with a whole lot of losses.

Also making news today was Lakes High’s Cedric Dozier.  Dozier has been committed to Cal, but has recently been looking at UW and WSU.  it was thought he’d take a trip to UW this weekend, but he stayed home and will now choose between Cal and WSU later this week.  It would have been great to have him as a Dawg, but there were a lot of variables here all along.  Originally, UW wanted him as a cornerback, but he wants to play receiver, which is why he chose Cal.  UW recently told him he could play receiver, but it’s hard to know the reason for that.  Add the fact that he hasn’t always lived in the state and has lots of family in California, and this is just one case where there was too much to get past for him to be a Dawg.  That’s the way it goes sometimes.

On a possibly more positive note, safety Shaquille Thompson reportedly took an unofficial visit to UW this weekend, possibly with receiver Jordan Payton.  Shaq is deciding between UW, Cal, Oregon and UCLA on Wednesday, and it would seem this is a good sign.  Or it might work out the opposite way.  There’s no way to predict these things.

Also, rumors are that lineman Shane Brostek told some people that he is planning to come to UW.  These are very unreliable rumors, as I read them in a comment on UW Dawgpound, and they were about third hand at that point.  Story goes that, while on a visit to U. of Hawaii this weekend, he told some other players he will be a Husky.  Who knows.  I’m really hoping he’ll be a Dawg, because he looks like a beast.

Tomorrow, Zach Banner is announcing his choice.  I’m expecting USC, but I think UW still has a good shot.  Which is a weird thing to write, because he’s already made his decision, he just hasn’t announced it yet.  If he’s picked USC or Oklahoma, the Huskies have no shot.  So I guess I’m just hoping he’s picked UW and think it’s possible.  I really know nothing.

We’ll have another update tomorrow.  Until then…

-Matthew

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UW Recruiting Insanity

Update: Follow our recruiting thread by clicking here.

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. Continue reading

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2012 UW Wide Receivers

Looking at the current roster, with minimal attention paid to the 2012 recruiting class.

Who They Lose

Jermaine Kearse

Devin Aguilar

Kearse had a very contentious career for a guy who is probably one of the five or so greatest receivers ever at UW.  He made play after play and caught a huge amount of touchdowns.  I can’t get the Husky record book to open right now, but he’s near the top in a number of categories.  The consistent issues with drops plagued Kearse.  More than a few had major effects on games and kept him from being a huge fan favorite.  He was never quite what he could have been because of the drops, but he is still a huge threat to replace.  Aguilar was a little more consistent but not quite the playmaking threat that Kearse was.  Still, he made a lot of catches at critical moments.  Replacing these two is a fairly tall order.  They both had flaws, but they are clearly one of the better WR combos the Huskies have ever had.

Who Is Back

Kasen Williams- Sophomore

James Johnson- Senior

Cody Bruns- Senior

Kevin Smith- Junior

The saving grace in an otherwise lackluster group is Williams.  It took him half the season to get going, but once he did, all the hype he brought with him seemed inadequate to the actual talent he possesses.  He looked faster than expected, and his overall athleticism is ridiculous.  His leap over a Cougar in the Apple Cup is already legendary.  I expect Kasen will take a huge jump forward this year and be one of the best receivers in a conference full of good ones. Continue reading

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