Commitment Impact: Darrell Daniels

SEATTLE - Twitter can be a amazing thing: It can be used in so many ways - to spell out the news of the day, to voice an opinion on a popular topic, to interact with friends, family and others about anything. For some reason, UW Head Coach Steve Sarkisian decided early Saturday morning was a good time to wake up Husky Nation with a tweet. It was just four little letters: W-O-O-F!!!

That's all it takes nowadays for UW fans following Coach Sark on Twitter to go nuts, because it could only mean one thing; the Huskies had picked up a verbal commitment - and most likely a substantial one. He usually saves his 'loudest' tweets for the big scores. And literally 20 minutes later, another tweet answered the question of who it was - Oakley (Calif.) Freedom WR Darrell Daniels.

Deja Vu for Dawg fans: Daniels may (or may not) have known that his name is already known in most UW football circles, and not because they know who he is. Daniels just happens to share the same name as a former Husky linebacker from Sylmar High School in San Fernando, Calif. - although in the interests of full disclosure the older Daniels spells his name Derrell. As far as I know, there is no family connection between the two. The former Daniels was a 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker who played at UW from 1997-2000. He moved to the inside spot his junior year and ended up leading the team in tackles that year with 89 and was second his senior season - the same year the Huskies won the Rose Bowl over Purdue. So it's safe to say the younger Daniels has some big shoes to fill based on what his namesake was able to accomplish.

Big in every way: It's always a good time to pick up an impact player, but Daniels' verbal commitment comes at an especially good time for UW. Not only was Daniels in Seattle this weekend at the same time as a number of other top prospects from California, including Joe Mathis and Tahaan Goodman, but he's the first player to commit after Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne QB Troy Williams, so Williams now has a top-5 prospect to throw to (as if he wouldn't have enough bodies to throw to anyway, but we'll get to that a little bit later). Could Daniels' decision pave the way for player like Goodman - ranked as Scout.com's No. 5 safety nationally - or Mathis, Scout's No. 10 defensive end who committed to UW back in October before opening his recruitment back up in February? We'll see.

Making history: Daniels is currently a four-star prospect, ranked by Scout.com as the No. 35 player in the country regardless of position. Since the top-50 players eventually are rated at 5 stars by Scout, expect Daniels to get a star bump once all the post-spring evaluations are in and Scout re-rates and re-ranks players before the start of the fall football season. Speaking of Scout's rating of Daniels, if the expected pre-season star bump does take place, Darrell would be the second 5-star commitment from California in as many seasons. Sacramento Grant safety Shaq Thompson signed for the 2012 class. The last time that happened for Washington is never, at least in terms of the recruiting services - so that would mean since 2002.

Scouting report: In watching the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Daniels at work, the first thing that stood out to me was that while he clearly is a tremendous physical prospect on the offensive side of the ball, he plays like you would expect a defender would. He plays extremely fast for his size, and he plays a purpose - which typically means trouble for defenders that have to deal with his intentions. Daniels clearly loves contact and isn't afraid to mix it up and get his nose in the pile. Washington fans will gravitate toward Kasen Williams as an obvious example, and I can see that from a physical standpoint. While Kasen is naturally strong, Daniels is every bit as bullish with the ball in his hand. But in a 40 I would bet Darrell wins every time, as he has uncommon speed for his stature. What Kasen has over Daniels right now is receiver polish, as well as unquestioned ball skills - especially when the ball is in the air. Daniels is at his best when he has the ball in his hands; it's running the crisp, precise route and showing consistent, sure hands that will put him in the same category as Williams in that regard.

Recruiting with the big boys again: One of the consistent recruiting themes relayed to me during the Tyrone Willingham years was that Washington was winning recruiting battles, but they weren't winning them over their natural recruiting competition, especially in California. USC, UCLA, California and Stanford lapped them time and time again for prospects - but now that perception seems to be changing in a big way. Granted, it's helped that USC is currently under scholarship restrictions, which means they have to be very, very careful in who they want. That has helped UW's cause, but the Huskies have also helped themselves by bringing in some hired hands that are clearly making some serious inroads. Between Tosh Lupoi, Peter Sirmon, Justin Wilcox, Johnny Nansen, Joel Thomas and Jimmie Dougherty selling the Husky story from Yreka to San Ysidro, California is now a state up for grabs. Add to that the reputation Steve Sarkisian has in southern California and his competitive nature - it's no wonder they've not only been able to get in on some of the Golden State's biggest recruits early, but they've been able to stay in on them and get them to take unofficial visits to sell the program and the direction they are headed even more. And with the recent commits of Daniels and Williams, whatever they are pitching is working.

Stadium has to be helping: Obviously we'll find out later when we get a chance to go more in-depth with Daniels and his feelings on what he saw, but since I was out Saturday at UW's Passing Camp I was able to notice first-hand the amount of work Turner Construction and their sub-contractors have already been able to put into the Husky Stadium remodel. From the east field Sarkisian was having a field day with high school coaches, players and parents, pointing to the steel erected in the west end zone and giving them an idea as to where his office will be, as well as many other thing. From that vantage point it's amazing the progress that's been made, and since I caught myself day dreaming a little bit - imaging what the completed stadium might look and sound like - I can't help but think it made an impact on Daniels too, knowing that his class would be the first one to play in a newly renovated stadium.

How does Daniels impact the numbers?: Daniels commitment was the eighth public commit for Washington's recruiting class of 2013. With the number of departing seniors from this upcoming class at 11, but with Colin Porter and Johri Fogerson adding to the attrition, that number is at 13 and most likely climbing (because there always seems to be post-season attrition you never find out about until then). At the receiver position the Huskies will lose Cody Bruns and James Johnson. For the 2013 class, they have two players already committed in Daniels and Lakes' standout Sammie Long. So you'd think the Huskies would be done in this department - right? Not so fast! With impact players like Demorea Stringfellow, Sebastian LaRue, Devon Allen and John Ross out there, I don't think Sarkisian would shy away from taking a commitment from any one of those players and calling it good. If more than one want to come, that's when you have to start getting creative; not that this would happen, but with Daniels' ability as a defender he could always be tried on that side of the ball in order to balance the books, so to speak. Again, that's a remote possibility, but one the Huskies could look at down the road if the boat starts getting full of the kind of skill players you just can't say no to.


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