Commitment Impact: Danny Shelton

Dawg fans were on pins-and-needles New Year's Eve as Auburn (Wa.) DT Danny Shelton weighed his options, but shortly after finishing up his stint as a defensive tackle for the West in the O-D All Star Game, the top in-state recruit left on the board made his commitment to Washington, eliciting a huge sigh of relief from Husky Nation...

Shelton's commitment, while important, just adds to an already impressive list of prospects the Huskies have pledges from along the defensive line.

Archbishop Murphy (Everett, Wa.) DT Taniela Tupou, Skyline (Sammamish, Wa.) DE Connor Cree, Walnut (Ca.) DE Aubrey Coleman and Paramount (Ca.) DT Maataua Brown are all slated to begin their Husky careers along the defensive line, but none have the run-stuffing capabilities of Shelton.

With his 6'3", 285-pound frame, Shelton has the size to take up two blockers on nearly every running play and his natural strength allows him to hold up strong at the point-of-attack.

It's only natural for people to compare him to current Husky NT Alameda Ta'amu, but that isn't necessarily a good comparison since Ta'amu has a much lower center-of-gravity and is naturally thicker than Shelton.

Shelton will probably need at least a year in the Husky system before he can be counted on to be a contributor, but after a year in the weight room as well as a year at the training table, the big interior defensive lineman should be right around 300 pounds and can step in for Ta'amu at the nose tackle spot.

Some have argued that Shelton isn't as explosive as he should be and that he took some plays off during the season, but that was far from the player I've seen in three years of watching him play football for the Trojans.

He's very explosive and uses his hands better than most prep defensive line prospects. He anchors well and he's got the quickness and athleticism to be at least adequate as a pass-rusher.

This season, Shelton finished with 50 tackles and six sacks from his defensive tackle spot and, during his high school career, he was named First Team All-Conference on both sides of the ball, garnering lineman of the year honors as a junior.

With his commitment, the Huskies have five prospects committed along the defensive line and would seem to be done, however, they are still heavily in the mix for Fullerton's Uriah Grant who also would be an ideal nose tackle.

Should Grant decide to commit to the Huskies, that would allow Shelton to redshirt and then those two could rotate in 2012, Grant's senior season.

There is also the possibility that the Huskies could entertain one more player -- Berverly Hills DE/DT Greg Townsend -- who hasn't taken a visit to Montlake and will likely commit to a school on Saturday during the Under Armer All-American Game being played in Florida.

Even with his impending commitment, Townsend plans to take a couple more trips so the Huskies still have a chance to get a visit before signing day on February 2nd, although it's a longshot.

With the status of Brown and Coleman still up in the air as both have work to do in order to qualify, the Huskies will continue to work at finding enough bodies to fill out the remaining spots along the defensive line for this class and Shelton will be the centerpiece to their plans.

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