Sankey makes switch complete

The barks came from Spokane, and didn't stop until they hit Montlake. Just minutes after Steve Sarkisian barked out some 'Woof!'s, learned that their No. 17-ranked running back - Spokane Gonzaga Prep's Bishop Sankey - completed a move that saw him de-commit from Washington State and verbally commit to Washington on Tuesday.

"I'm a Dawg," Sankey told Scout at the end of a long day.

Sankey, who initially committed to the Cougars a year ago to the day, called WSU Head Coach Paul Wulff in the morning to tell him that he would not be signing with the Crimson and Gray. There were some thoughts that Wulff might try to visit Sankey and his parents Thursday, but Sankey wasn't talking that way Tuesday night.

"I talked to (WSU) this morning, and I feel like it's over," he said. "I want to close the whole recruiting thing off. I know it sounds like a selfish decision, but I know I'm solid on U-Dub. There's really no point."

So what happened? Why the last-second move between two heated rivals, a cross-state switch that will certainly put Sankey on the hot seat with the many, many WSU fans that happen to live in his hometown, which is only an hour away from Pullman?

Sankey said the move away from Washington State wasn't done suddenly. "Honestly it wasn't just like one moment - it was gradual," he said when asked what happened between him and WSU. "They just gradually became less attractive. U-Dub, their coaches are really great, and from what I hear Sark is going to be there for a few more years, so it was kind of a gradual thing. Ever since Steve Broussard left, it kind of plateaued there for a while, and then it just kind of started to slip away.

"When I committed, Washington State was my only offer, so once I started getting more offers it would have been kind of dumb to not explore and see what else was out there, and make sure I had made the exact right decision for me."

Washington was one of those offers; Maryland was another. And for Sankey, the Terrapins weren't a fall-back choice. "I was really big on Maryland at one point in time," he said. "I went over there and liked it, but shortly after I went over there their coaching staff left and all that. It wasn't a backup plan; I was considering them. I was giving them a fair chance."

But the Huskies were always lurking in the background, always looking for the opportunity to get their shot. And as the Cougars slid in favor, UW started to gain momentum with Sankey and his family. It didn't happen overnight.

"Once (UW Running Backs) coach (Joel) Thomas started coming around and really showing legit interest in me," Sankey said when asked what started to pique his interest in the cross-state program. "(Thomas) was always trying to come visit me or trying to give me a call. He's a really good coach. And definitely when I went on my trip."

His trip, as in his official visit - which Sankey took this past weekend. "It was a really great experience," he said. "Another thing that got me was, if you take football out of the equation, their academics are off the charts. I was asking people, and they said the top-two schools out west are Stanford and U-Dub is not far beneath. Their academics, and the fact that they have an 82 percent graduation rate for football players - that speaks volumes. To me, I want to get a degree so I can get a good job after football is over." His initial plans are to study either something in business or the medical field.

Clearly coaching continuity and academics played a part in Sankey's eventual decision, but something else happened during Sankey's 48 hours in Seattle that really sold him on the program and his place in it. Jesse Callier was Sankey's player-host, and he said that Chris Polk also spent a lot of time with him.

No big deal, right? I mean, prospects are put with their position players all the time. Not according to Sankey. He made it sound like Washington was the only school unafraid to have running backs hosted by running backs.

"I thought it was real big for them to put me with another person…I mean, a lot of other schools don't put you with the same position, because they're scared you might clash because you play the same position, and you'll be competing for the same position," he said. "But I never had a school put me with guys in my same position before. It gives me more comfort knowing that the guys that I'm going to be hanging around with for the next four years are cool guys and that I can get along with them."

Callier and Polk also gave Sankey the players' skinny on their position coach. "They told me that when it comes down to coach Thomas, what you see is what you get," he said. "And how he acts is how he always acts."

Sankey also said that his father Chris liked Washington, and that was important to him. "Definitely after the trip, he was liking Washington and what they are doing there," he said. "Washington or Washington State, either way he was for me. He thought they were both great universities. I think both are great universities, but I think U-Dub is better for me."

With everything in place, Sankey never once thought about making a decision while in Seattle. "I'm always playing things on the safer side, so I just wanted to experience it and then analyze it, and then go back home and talk to my parents about it and then make the decision."

Forty-eight hours later, Steve Sarkisian and Joel Thomas were in Spokane, at Sankey's home. This was their last chance to pitch Washington and the UW experience. The family was sold. According to Sankey, Sarkisian and Thomas talked about the location of the school, and were on point with their continual message about academics and his place on the team. "It's going to open up a lot of possible opportunities for me after college football," he said.

"It's definitely a big decision I had to make. I prayed about it a lot, and talked it over with my family. When I came down to it, I felt like U-Dub was the best decision for me."

So what kind of player is Washington getting in Sankey? He has broken nearly all the relevant Greater Spokane League numbers when it comes to running the ball. During GP's 35-21 win over Mead in October, Sankey mauled the Panthers for 359 yards and five touchdowns, giving him the all-time career rushing mark of 4,529 yards.

"I'm explosive. I've been told I have a great burst through the hole. I have a really good initial burst, hit the corner - stuff like that. I'm also versatile. People haven't really seen me catch a lot because we don't really throw that much, but every time I go to camps and whatnot, I normally do pretty well on one-on-ones and stuff like that. So versatility and explosiveness…I also have a little wiggle in me too.

"I admire a lot of running backs, and I try and take bits and pieces of running backs that I like the way they run. They inspire me to keep working and get better at what I do and my running style."

That list of running backs includes players from different eras, like Barry Sanders, Reggie Bush, C.J. Spiller and Javon Ringer.

Now that recruiting is over, Sankey is looking to get back to business and finishing up school. "I'm looking forward to get things rolling and get out there and start working," he said. Top Stories