Commitment Impact: Lavon Coleman

When talking about the June announcement that saw eight 2013 football prospects commit (or re-commit) to Washington at the U-Village RAM, it's widely considered that Elijah Qualls was the prospect that instigated the group commit. That's true, but one of his early cohorts in putting it all together was Lavon Coleman, a 5-foot-11, 210-pound running back from Lompoc, Calif.

All in for UW - Like Qualls, when Coleman visited he just had a feeling right there and then that Washington was the place for him. "Overall, I'd say it has everything I'm looking for in a school," he told Dawgman's Scott Eklund after his April visit. He noted the academics - including the libraries - as well as the football and how the Huskies used Chris Polk, who was graduating.

The visit stuck with Coleman, so about a month later, he knew he didn't need to wait around. He had been talking with Qualls and others, so when the chance came to make a monster statement on the west coast recruiting scene, he wasn't going to pass it up. "Washington is the perfect school for me," he told Dawgman when he committed at the RAM. "They stayed on me and showed me how bad they wanted me. That's the school I'm going to go to. It came down to coach Sark, coach Thomas, the class and how good we are…what opportunity we have to be the best class that's been recruited to U-Dub."

Just like Old Times - The last time the Washington Huskies picked out a running back from Lompoc, it worked out pretty well for them. The 1991 recruiting class - the same class that enjoyed Washington's national championship run - also had a Lompoc kid; his name was Napoleon Kaufman. All 'Nip' did during his time at UW was become the Huskies' all-time leading rusher. That's a high bar to set for Coleman, but the last running back at Montlake - Polk - almost made it. Polk was a special talent, and Coleman will set out to prove he's special in his own way.

But there is a bit of a twist in this story; Kaufman led Lompoc to a 1990 CIF Championship, and Coleman did the same in 2011, guiding the Braves to a CIF-SS title. He ran for 2038 yards and scored 28 touchdowns along the way, which is one of the reasons has Coleman ranked as the 26th best running back in the country.

"I just think he wants what's best for Lavon," said Lompoc Head Coach Andrew Jones about Kaufman and Coleman. The two barely know each other right now, but expect a friendship to evolve in the coming years. "In the whole process, U-Dub has just kind of stuck out. They really have pursued Lavon more than anyone else, any other school. He wasn't all about U-Dub; he just wanted to make sure Lavon was getting the job done in the classroom. 'If you guys need anything I'm here to help'. He's just been supportive. He didn't play a role in the decision-making; he's just been typical Nip - just a role model and somebody Lavon can look up to. We know if we need someone to talk to, Napoleon is always there."

Mining for Gold - It's been said Steve Sarkisian calls new Linebackers coach Peter Sirmon 'The Miner' for his ability to dig deep and find players that might have otherwise gone missing from top programs. While that has certainly been the case back east and south - current commit Caleb Tucker from Louisiana could certainly qualify as an example of that - the UW staff was one of the first to take a serious interest in Coleman. Lompoc, located roughly 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles, isn't exactly on a lot of BCS recruiting radars right now - but the Huskies were intrigued by Coleman as a prospect. So they did the legwork required and determined he was the kind of player they wanted in their system.

"Ultimately it came down to Washington because they were the first ones to find him," Jones said when Coleman committed to the Huskies. "Not too many people want to take that 20-minute drive to Highway 1 off the 101. They were the first ones to find him, and they consistently were in contact with him through me to see how he was doing. We haven't really had a guy at Lompoc…we've had a few, but I think the big thing for Lavon is that he had a great relationship with coach Thomas and Sark. He had 15 offers, but he probably couldn't tell you the head coach of 13 of them. He only knew a few and talked to a couple of them, but he's got a good relationship with coach Sark and he's already been up here once on an unofficial. He just kind of knows it's the best fit for him."

Will this help the Huskies down the road for recruits in southern California, the most talent-rich recruiting area for all the Pac-12 teams? It's hard to predict the future, but I think one thing that can be said - the Washington staff has shown that they will drive the extra mile and make that push required to show their dedication toward finding not just the best players - but the best players for what they want to do as a program. And that has not gone unnoticed with the local high school coaches. Sarkisian and his coaches already have a strong network in SoCal; with the team getting better and better each year the Huskies' sales pitch continues to get easier and easier for those prospects looking for a college experience outside of Los Angeles.

Scouting Report - "I like Coleman. He's an every-down back. He can block, he can catch the ball, he can run hard - he's a between-the-tackles guy. He can get you the tough 5-6 yards. He's not going to be a Napoleon Kaufman, who is from Lompoc; he's not going to break the 80-yarders, but he's also not as slow as some people are saying. He can kick it outside when he needs to, but I think he's your prototype every-down back that's going to be very consistent - kind of similar to how they used Chris Polk." - National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins

How many RB's to take? - Obviously with the early offer to Coleman, Washington had him targeted from the start. But what about taking one more running back for the 2013 class? There are at least five other running backs with current offers; Khalfani Muhammad, Craig Lee, Aaron Baltazar, Aregeros Turner, and Terrell Newby. With Polk's graduation and the inclusion of 2012 signee Erich Wilson to the mix, the Huskies will have at least five scholarship running backs on roster by the time Coleman matriculates; Wilson, Jesse Callier, Bishop Sankey, Deontae Cooper and Dezden Petty. Ryan McDaniel may also run the ball for UW, but right now he's working his way back from a knee injury. On paper that seems plenty, but with Cooper's future shaky due to two knee injuries and the possibility of McDaniel playing defense when it's all said and done it's a fluid situation. If Cooper can't play this fall and has to retire, that just might open up a spot for another back. I'm not surprised the UW staff is keeping some prospects in play just in case. There's been a thought that Baltazar - who committed very early in the process to UW but then backed off, has committed again - but that has not been confirmed by any service. And with cornerback Derek Babiash basically doing the same thing and the Huskies washing their hands clean of that situation, they could very well have moved on from Baltazar once he decided to start looking around.

If I had to guess who the Huskies have the best chance at signing if they indeed go for another back in this class - it's Newby. Muhammad and Lee appear to be infatuated with other programs, while Turner is from Ohio and probably a longshot to show serious interest in a west coast school like UW. But Newby, the No. 39-ranked RB in the country, is from Chaminade Prep in southern California, the same school that produced late 2012 UW signee Taylor Hindy.

Lavon Coleman Profile Top Stories