Coach's Corner

Regardless of how many kids end up signing, this third-year class of the Steve Sarkisian era is already a success. Coach himself is really a good recruiter, and is obviously taking pride in what he is starting to build here at Washington. He is about to sign a couple dozen or so more kids that will further put his stamp on this program.

A quick observation shows a real emphasis on the recruitment of taller student athletes who have the frames to add bulk in the weight room. If there was a trend this year, it was to add bigger, rangier, running athletes who have room to grow.

They are simply recruiting longer bodies with longer arms, and have a couple of prospects in the 6-foot-6 to 6-foot-7 range - topped by 6-foot-8 lineman Stephan Nembot. Four prospects are 6-foot-5, but 14 of them are in the 6-foot-2 through 6-foot-4 range. They are signing three big safeties that are at least 6-foot-2 and are adding speed across the board, with over 17 of the new kids running in the 4.4 to 4.7 forty range.

They dominated the state of Washington by getting commitments from almost every major prospect - it's the first year they are set to sign every single blue-chip recruit named by the Seattle Times - and then tapped the southern California prospect pool for another dozen kids. They needed tight-ends and will sign two really good ones from in-state. They needed pass rushers and signed at least four kids who could come off the edge as well as two inside defensive tackles. They got a JC linebacker who is already enrolled in school (Thomas Tutogi) and that fulfilled another depth hole.

They got commitments all year long and finished really strong the last two weeks with at least eight verbal commitments. Some were re-commitments after checking out other schools; some were commitments from players that were previously committed to other schools. And some were just wins on kids that they had targeted and beat out other schools to get.

Sure they lost some kids to other schools, but they also gained some kids who had originally committed elsewhere. It's just the way the process works. They battled with all the other teams in this conference and actually beat many of those schools on almost all their commitments.

They have taken gambles on kids who didn't have test scores or grades when they committed, and have even dropped some kids who simply wouldn't qualify. They've even gotten a kid or two to switch back after the kid had considered going elsewhere. Most specifically, corner Kameron Jackson who has great quickness and coverage ability. And they'll have work to do in making sure Nembot's head doesn't get turned after an official visit to Colorado, but there's no reason to believe they can't keep him in the fold after he de-committed from Washington State.

Washington have been resilient throughout the process, and everyone in the program has embraced the recruiting efforts - from Player Personnel Director Jared Blank and his assistant, Debbie Goldstein - to all the support people who work in the football office. Everyone has pitched in on recruiting, and everyone believes in the sell - especially the players, whose on-the-field efforts proved the program is on an upward swing.

Coach Sarkisian again proved his flexibility by being able to switch quarterbacks in mid-stream. He went for more size and a stronger arm when they were able to get 6-foot-3, 225-pound Derrick Brown to de-commit from Utah, and let 5-foot-11, 175-pound Joseph Gray slide to San Jose State. I'm sure academics also played a role, but size alone makes the move appear to be an upgrade.

The Huskies just picked up their top running back target in Gonzaga Prep's Bishop Sankey, and they already have another stout back in Dezden Petty, who at 6 feet and 210 pounds is already a bigger bruising-type runner. They also went big at wide receiver, adding Kasen Williams who is quite simply the biggest recruit in the class. At 6-foot-3 and well over 200 pounds, Williams is easily the best receiver to come out of this state since Reggie Williams, and was recently named the Parade Magazine National Player of the Year, the first time that award has ever been given out to a Washington-based player. He will make an immediate impact, and adds a five-star rating to go along with his exceptional skills. He is truly a big-time player who will upgrade the receiver corps, and instantly makes Washington a better offensive team.

They continued the receiver size upgrade by adding 6-foot-3, 200-pound Josh Perkins and 6-foot-2 Jamaal Jones, and then added a speedster in Marvin Hall - who although only 5-foot-10 tall, runs a 4.4 forty. Hall, who also runs a 10.6 100 meter dash, has unbelievable acceleration, and hails from the same high school as legendary Husky, Beno Bryant - Dorsey High in Los Angeles. Maybe he could also return punts like Beno did, and his speed is electric.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins becomes the biggest tight end to sign in with Washington in at least a decade and he too should make an immediate contribution. At 6-foot-7, Seferian-Jenkins finally offers that big target in the middle of the field that has been missing from the offensive equation for so long.

UW recruited with balance in mind, adding almost the exact same number of kids on both sides of the ball. If you look at Scout.com's team rankings, they show 13 commits on offense and 13 on defense. They also recruited a number of kids who played both ways in high school, adding diversity to their class. I would imagine there will be at least a couple who change sides of the ball after they get here.

What also stands out is that the energy of the program as a factor to the recruits. Anyone who attended the December practices could see the enthusiasm of the coaches. They are up-beat and positive, and this has been mentioned time and again by recruits as a reason they were impressed with the Huskies.

It looks like they are probably going to lose both Maataua Brown and Aubrey Coleman to academics, just as they did last year with a couple of early commits. Both were big bodies and had committed to Washington knowing that there were academic hurdles to meet, and hopefully both will join the program later on in their careers.

Placing players in junior college and getting them back hasn't happened much at Washington, with the obvious exception of Dashon Goldson, who is now with the San Francisco 49'ers. There wasn't any follow-through for years, but because of connections to the JC's by Sarkisian and Husky assistants Johnny Nansen and Demitrice Martin, that too has appeared to change.

Regardless of the final numbers, and I'm guessing it will be 26 or so, the Huskies will be adding another solid group of prospects, only this time I would suspect that not as many will be asked to play too early. I would imagine them red-shirting as many as 15 or more of these kids simply because they have been building their depth so well thru recruiting. Another noticeable change is that the rate of attrition amongst those kids recruited by Coach Sarkisian and his staff has dropped considerably. The kind of kids they are recruiting are buying in and staying on the team.

With time still left before signing day, anything is liable to happen, and unfortunately they could still lose a kid coming down the stretch. If they can hold on to what they have - and maybe even turn one more player, like a Jacoby Brissett, their way - then this will prove to be another great class, and it reflects the commitment of the head coach and all of his assistants to the recruiting process. Top to bottom, I still feel this is the best recruiting staff and system we have ever had at Washington. To borrow one of their favorite words, all they have to do now is finish, finish, finish. Then they will start all over again come February 3rd, because in recruiting it is just one big continuous, non-stop process.

Don't pay too much attention to the rankings of classes and the number of 3, 4 or 5-Star recruits each school gets or loses, for that matter: What counts is how many you end up getting in the fall and how good those student-athletes on the field and in the classroom. Oh yeah, and how many championships you win with them.


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