Tying up loose ends

With Signing Day less than 48 hours away, we wanted to try and catch up with a number of players committed to Washington to see where they were at in the recruiting process - to see if anything had changed. We were able to talk to four personally, but there was more developments with other committed players - as well as those still looking at UW as a possible destination spot.

Ryan McDaniel:

"I told them that I'm solidly committed," the 6-foot-1, 220-pound athlete told Scout.com Sunday when asked if any other programs had tried to recruit him after his verbal commitment to Washington was known. "I'm not going to be really interested in any other places. Nebraska came by that following Tuesday after I committed to Washington, but I told them that I was committed and I wasn't really interested in looking around anywhere else."

McDaniel said he spoke with Washington Running Backs Coach Joel Thomas a couple days ago and Thomas had an in-home last week. What are the coaches telling the two-way star about his future at UW? "Right now it's as a defensive guy, but they told me that they would be sending me both playbooks and I'll see what works out from there," said McDaniel. "If defense doesn't work out, I'll go offense; if I'm feeling offense when I'll just go to offense. I'll always have the defensive playbook if that doesn't work out."

Does McDaniel have a preference? "I'm not the fastest running back, but I'm not the tallest linebacker either," he said with a laugh.

So now all that needs to be done is putting pen to paper on a letter of intent. "I think I'm just going to do it at the school library, do it there and get it over with," he said, adding that he expects to sign around noon.


Kendyl Taylor:

Taylor made his verbal commitment to Washington known in mid-June and has stuck to his guns ever since. "Nothing's really changed," the 6-foot, 195-pound Taylor told Scout.com Sunday. He added that Arizona State came by with their new coaches, but they didn't really try and get him to de-commit.

"They knew I was set on Washington."

This past Wednesday, UW receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty had an in-home visit with Taylor and his family. It was there where Dougherty showed Taylor how he would be used.

"They are recruiting me as a receiver, but they also said that they are going to find a way to change up the formations and put me in the backfield and have me come out and either get a handoff or a toss or fly sweeps…they can keep both danger sides of the run and the catch," he said. "They are going to work a whole bunch of different angles so teams don't know what's coming."

After committing to UW, Taylor tried to get teammate Reggie Daniels to go to Washington (Daniels eventually committed to Oregon), as well as D.J. Foster (who committed to Arizona State) and a couple others too. It was his way to add a little spice to a recruiting process that was pretty bland by today's standards.

"No calls, no emails, no letters in the mailbox, no other visits," Taylor said. "So it went really easy, which I loved because I'm already set. I'm definitely happy."

Taylor has a full Wednesday planned; he will sign at 7 am at Hamilton High School, then will go to a bar and grill called Marley's to do a bigger Signing Day celebration for all the Arizona-based signees.


Blake Rodgers:

"Nothing's changed for me," Rodgers said matter-of-factly when asked what his recruiting process has been like lately. "I'm still 100 percent (Husky). I talked to San Diego State a while ago, but not that many schools have been talking to me. It's been pretty easy."

Rodgers went on his official visit to Washington on January 13th, and that's when he really got a chance to meet all the new defensive coaches. New linebackers coach Peter Sirmon came to his house a couple days after that, and Justin Wilcox made a point of visiting Rodgers just before his official visit.

"I've talked to all the coaches a lot lately," he said.

While many people have already tagged Rodgers as a middle linebacker, he said the UW coaches haven't settled on one spot for him. "They said middle and outside, they aren't really sure yet," said Rodgers. "They said I could play both, depending on how I do when I get up there and how big I get and stuff. They are going to have a freshman-friendly program defense and it's going to be easy to learn, and hopefully I'll have a chance to start next year."

Rodgers, who was recently named third team All-State by CalHiSports, expects to be about 230 pounds by the time he gets up to Seattle. "I've just been working out a lot with a bunch of other D1 players, we've been getting a lot done," he said.

On Wednesday morning, Rodgers will fax his letter of intent papers over at roughly 7:30 or 8 o'clock and then in the afternoon the athletes at Tesoro High have a bigger celebration where the local newspaper comes out and takes pictures.


Darien Washington:

Washington is one of the earliest commitments to UW's 2012 class, having pledged to the Huskies back in the middle of May. That doesn't mean that things haven't been interesting of late for the defensive back from Orange County.

"The last couple weeks have been crazy, but I'm still a Washington commit - still a Dawg. In that respect, nothing has changed," he said Sunday. "But crazy in the sense that it's kind of a surreal moment that's going to take place in a couple of days."

Washington and his family met with Johnny Nansen a couple days ago to go through the whole signing process. "He showed me the papers for the first time, and I was like 'Wow'. I was kind of taken aback," he said.

Even though he's always been solidly in UW's corner, Washington took unofficial visits to Baylor, Colorado, USC and UCLA in the summer after his commitment, but nothing changed since - even with renewed interest from Pac-12 schools like Colorado. He never took any other official visits other than the one to Washington on January 13th, but that doesn't mean he wasn't thinking about it.

When Demetrice Martin moved to UCLA and the rest of the defensive staff was blown out after UW lost in the Alamo Bowl, Washington wasn't completely sure what was going to happen.

"At first it was kind of a shocker," he said. "I wasn't sure what to expect and who was going to be there. But a couple days later after the news broke, they were flying out here and not just getting in contact with me, but with everyone. So that really made me feel good that they were taking that step and showing not just interest, but high interest in me and everyone else. That was good. And then when I went on my trip I got to meet them and that made me feel good as far as not football-wise, but just as coaches in general and the men that they are. We got to talking, especially coach (Keith) Heyward, and I definitely feel good about the new staff that came in."

Washington expects to get his UW start at cornerback. "I'm happy to play safety or whatever, but based on who I've been talking with so far, it's looking like cornerback," he said.

A talented athlete, Washington just found out from the athletic director at Orange Lutheran that he was named as the infield athlete of the year for track in Orange County. As a jumper, his personal records in the high jump, triple jump and long jump are 6'6", 44 feet, and 22'1", respectively.

The Orange County press comes out Monday to do all the prep work for their Signing Day coverage, but on Wednesday, Washington plans on signing on 7:01 am and sending out his LOI papers to Montlake.


Odds and Ends:
Shaquille Thompson - With fellow Sacramento-area blue-chipper Arik Armstead choosing Oregon, it's now time for Scout.com's No. 1 safety to make his choice. In a shocking development, Thompson took an unofficial visit back to Washington under the radar. The Sacramento Bee's Joe Davidson reported the visit via Twitter shortly after Armstead choose the Ducks, saying that it's definitely a two-horse race for Thompson - UW and California. Thompson will make his intentions known on Wednesday, but recruits and families usually don't shell out for their own visits unless they are VERY serious. And with Steve Sarkisian hiring Tosh Lupoi for exactly this type of recruiting reversals, it wouldn't shock anyone now if Thompson picks the Huskies.

Jordan Payton - According to ESPN's Greg Biggins, Payton had a very busy weekend - first officially visiting UCLA, and then heading back to Seattle for an unofficial visit. That means with both Payton and Shaquille Thompson unofficially visiting Seattle on their own dime, that again has to bode well for the Huskies on Signing Day. Payton has talked in glowing terms of how Lupoi and new UW OC Eric Kiesau were instrumental in getting the former USC commit to eventually commit to California. And now Lupoi and Kiesau appear to be working their magic for UW.

Kenny Walker - We haven't gotten a chance to speak to Walker - a Cal commit - about his official visit to Washington his past weekend, but if you look at his Facebook page it might tell you all you need to know about what he's thinking. He's changed his hometown to Seattle and recently posted about how he was making changes and that it might make some people mad - but he's doing what he thinks is best to set up his career. If that doesn't sound like he's made a change from Cal to Washington, I don't know what else would spell it out. But until we get in touch with Kenny to confirm the change, we can't list him as a commit just yet. And with two days to go, anything can happen.

Zach Banner - Zach spoke to the Tacoma News-Tribune Sunday to let people know that he's made his decision, and that he's at peace with it. He'll formally announce at 2:30 pm Monday at the Lakes High School Performing Arts Center. It's down to Oklahoma, USC and Washington, but most people think that Zach is planning on staying out west. That being said, Fox Sports' Tara Turnure sent out a tweet late Sunday night wondering if Zach's mother Vanessa is all that hot on Zach spending the next four years or so in Los Angeles. In the TNT article, Banner is quoted as saying that 'My parents are cool with (my decision).' We will only have to wait a few more hours to find out where the 6-foot-9, 320-pound two-sport star will play in college. My personal guess is Washington, but at this late stage it's just too close to call.

Shane Brostek - Again, not much coming out of the Brostek camp, but word coming late out through the coconut wireless through players at Hawaii was that the UW legacy was telling them he was coming to Montlake. Again, take it for what it's worth, but the scuttlebutt has only confirmed what we've felt all along - the 6-foot-3, 300-pound OL would follow his father's footsteps and be a Husky.

Jaydon Mickens - Mickens sent out his final three schools via text to Scout.com - 'Washington, Oklahoma State, and WSU'. He'll be announcing Tuesday night at 7:30 with teammate Jeremiah Allison at the ESPNZone in LA. Being from Dorsey High School, Mickens would have some company at UW - Matt Lyons is a current Husky - and the last time I spoke with Mickens he had Washington as his leader before the Cowboys made their last-second push. At this point it sure feels like a two-horse race between UW and OSU.


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