Recruiting Round-Up: 12/17

Washington is about to cruise through the holidays with a lot of momentum as they put the final touches on their recruiting class for 2011. With a Holiday Bowl date for December 30th against Nebraska, coach Steve Sarkisian has ample evidence of his success two years into turning a downtrodden Husky program around.

Sarkisian has also changed the culture of the Washington football team, as proven by their four wins in close games this past season. In three of those, Washington won on the last play of the game. In the Apple Cup, despite numerous mistakes, the Huskies did not choke when the game was on the line. It was a game the program would've most likely lost two years ago.

That is the biggest difference going on. The Husky program now expects to win games if they are there at the end.

There is still some work to do, but there are so many positives that Sark can point to now that he is starting to recruit from a position of strength. Let's take a look at each of the 19 current verbal commitments and see where they might fit on the Husky roster, assuming three things:

1) Their verbal commitments wind up signing Letters Of Intent;

2) They all make it into school academically;

3) They all show up injury free.

Linebacker Thomas Tutogi (6-1 235) was the most recent addition to the Husky class. He comes from the JC ranks out of California, and fits the mold perfectly as a middle linebacker. With Mason Foster graduating, he could very well fit an immediate need if he shows up ready to play. He will arrive on campus in time to go through spring, so that gives him 15 practices to start competing against Princeton Fuimaono, Victor Burnett, Tim Tucker, Jordan Wallace, and Garrett Gililand for a spot next to Cort Dennison. With four years to play three, Tutogi does have a redshirt available if he needs an additional season to learn the ropes, but physically he looks the part.

Prediction: Tutogi finds the two deeps in 2011 and plays on special teams as well.

Linebacker Corey Waller (6-2 210) will compete for the spot that Victor Aiyewa leaves after graduating. I'm betting that either Fuimaono or Wallace will move outside and compete with Cooper Pelluer and Waller for it as well. Waller likely will need a redshirt season before he figures out where his spot will be, but he will start out on the outside.

Prediction: Redshirt in 2011.

Linebacker Scott Lawyer (6-0 205) reminds me a lot of Garrett Gilliland in that he is undersized, but always in the right spot. And he is a sure tackler, which is what allowed Gilliland to crack the two-deeps this season. Lawyer looks like a natural at the SAM (outside linebacker), and will be a special teams demon. He is not a top-level recruit but his football IQ and potential were enough for Sark to go get him early.

Prediction: Redshirt in 2011.

Linebacker Matthew Lyons (6-2 200) is a taller player who is good in coverage. He is versatile and once he gets up to about 220, he should find the field and crack the two-deeps. He adds good speed to the linebacking corps of the future.

Prediction: Redshirt in 2011.

Linebacker Jarett Finau 6-3 234 could wind up at defensive end but his first look will come at SAM. He has the size and quickness to play several positions but linebacker seems to make the most sense. He had 50 tackles and 6.5 sacks this year, and if he grows, a move to defensive end makes sense. He will enroll early at Washington so he'll have 15 practices before he begins competing for a spot in the depth next fall. He is also expected to serve a two-year Mormon mission sometime during his UW career.

Prediction: Redshirt in 2011.

DL Maataua Brown (6-5 295) is a big time recruit; however it is not a sure bet that he'll make it into school. He looks like he's ready to compete physically with Semisi Tokolahi, Alameda Ta'amu, Chris Robinson, and Sione Potoa'e to add some depth on the interior. He's explosive and strong, but like I said, I won't get too excited about him until the Huskies receive his LOI and are confident that he will be admitted. If he does make it in, he will be one of the key signees for this class.

Prediction: Unknown. Ask me again in February.

DL Taniela Tupou 6-2 260 is skilled enough to be a legitimate defensive end recruit, but I have the feeling that once he gets on campus at the UW, he is going to wind up at defensive tackle. He will have a season on campus followed by an expected two-year Mormon mission, but that is not carved in stone right now. By then I feel that he will have grown and be ready to carry 290 pounds.

Prediction: Redshirt in 2011.

DL Connor Cree 6-5 225 has some good wheels for a bigger kid. I have to think he'll get some looks at defensive end after putting on some weight. He will compete with Hauoli Jamora and Talia Crichton for the end position opposite Everrette Thompson. After he gets a little bigger, he may get looks on the other side of the line because he runs so well.

Prediction: Redshirt in 2011.

DL Aubrey Coleman 6-6 220 could be the pass rushing specialist of the class. He is an extraordinary athlete and I can see him seeing the field right away if he can come in at about 230 pounds he might be able to have enough strength and size to get on the field for third down situations. Coleman seems underrated to me based on his film. He is a great find by Sark. He had over 70 tackles and 60 receptions this season, showing what a great athlete he is.

Prediction: No redshirt in 2011. Will see field as a pass rushing DE and on special teams.

DB Joel Willis 5-10 180 has the speed to play cornerback for sure. He is on the small side so you don't want to match him up with a tall receiver in the slot, but he has the quickness to break on the ball and make plays when the pass is in the air. He will need a year to get a little thicker but after that he should compete for playing time at the boundary corner position after Quinton Richardson graduates next season. He's explosive enough to add to UW's offensive arsenal, but he'll start out on defense first.

Prediction: Redshirt in 2011.

DB Kameron Jackson 5-11 180 is also fast enough to be a solid corner. He has good tackling skills as well, and based on his film I would say that he is ready to contribute early. I can see him reporting to fall camp and finding his way into the depth competing with Gregory Ducre and Adam Long. He is going to be a plum in this class.

Prediction: No redshirt in 2011. Will see field as a nickel back and on special teams.

DB Evan Zeger 6-2 204 is a big hitting safety in high school, but you have to wonder how much bigger he will get. His strength is in run support, so if he wants to see the field more, he will either be a strong safety or an outside (SAM) linebacker. He runs well.

Prediction: Redshirt in 2011.

QB Joseph Gray 6-0 175 is a very mobile athlete that has had success at Dorsey High in Los Angeles. He is a playmaker with the ball in his hands, and Sarkisian thought enough of him to offer him in October. He is not as highly touted as other signal-callers, but he fits the mold of a dual-threat quarterback. He threw for 31 touchdowns this season. At 175 pounds, he is going to need to hit the weights before he can handle being hit by much bigger players in college. One real plus is that he may be able to graduate early and arrive in Seattle in time for spring ball. That would help a great deal in that he will likely be the No. 3 QB on the roster the day he steps foot on campus.

Prediction: Redshirt in 2011.

WR Kasen Williams 6-3 215 is definitely the guy with the most hype in the class, and for good reason. Whenever Skyline has needed him to deliver, he has - and in a big way. Williams doesn't have great straight-ahead speed, but he gets open, runs at full speed through cuts, and his hands are amazing. He is very physical and will be a great blocker and a fantastic receiver in traffic because he uses his body so well. He also has incredible jumping abilities, something his father - former UW receiver Aaron - also possessed.

Prediction: Will play in 2011, possibly earning some starts. No redshirt.

WR Josh Perkins 6-3 200 is another bigger receiver like Williams, which makes you wonder if he'll wind up at another position. He posted some big-time numbers for Gahr this year from his slot receiver position though, so he may fit right in after Devin Aguilar and Jermaine Kearse graduate.

Prediction: Redshirt in 2011.

WR Jamaal Jones 6-2 180 missed his senior season with a shoulder injury that required surgery, so he's spent the past four months rehabbing it. That makes you wonder if a gray-shirt might be helpful for his long term health. Jones, like Perkins, is a bigger receiver with very good, but not blazing speed. Jones could also play some defensive back when all is said and done, but he is a very potent offensive playmaker when fully healthy.

Prediction: Redshirt in 2011.

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins 6-6 250 is the biggest (in terms of physical size) impact player the Huskies could've gotten on offense this year. Washington has had three catches all season from the tight end position, and Seferian-Jenkins is being brought in to address that issue straight away. He is fast, strong, and already a decent blocker to boot. It won't take long for Seferian-Jenkins to move up the depth chart and he will have an immediate role on this team – to stretch the middle of the field.

Prediction: Will play significant minutes in 2011. No redshirt.

OT Dexter Charles 6-5 270 is one of the local cornerstone-type of recruit that Don James used to make his living with. Charles has the long arms and feet that make him a nice tackle prospect, but he needs to spend his first couple of years adding weight and strength. Still, Charles is one of the better signees in this class, in my opinion. By 2013, he will be shining on the Husky offensive line.

Prediction: Redshirt in 2011.

OG Siosifa Tufunga 6-3 285 is described as very strong and very quick by his high school coach. He is considered pretty raw but he has a lot of tools to work with. He will arrive at Washington virtually unknown, with no pressure and lots of time to hone his skills, because the young depth ahead of him is extremely talented. With guys like Mykenna Ikehara, Erik Kohler, and Colin Porter to compete with, Tufunga should progress just fine. He is officially visiting this upcoming weekend, so hopefully we'll have more on him and his future with the Huskies.

Prediction: Redshirt in 2011.
Final words: I think that Sarkisian's final class will total between 24 and 26 kids, and should include three more linemen. If those linemen wound up being Danny Shelton (6-3 285), Paulay Asiata (6-5 290), and Ryan Nowicki (6-5 290), it would be the cherry to an already nice class.

Don't be surprised if Washington turns Bishop Sankey (5-11 190) and Dezden Petty (6-2, 230) around from Washington State and San Diego State, respectively, and signs them as running backs in this class. Top Stories