Impact Report - Azeem Victor

Azeem Victor's commitment was one that was kept pretty quiet, but now that fans have been able to see substantial amounts of film of the 6-foot-4, 225-pound athlete from Pomona, Calif., his pledge to Washington opens up all sorts of possibilities on both sides of the ball. But what does his commitment - the 20th known public commit - mean for the Huskies?

Making the 85 - The biggest question is, as UW continues to stockpile talent like Victor - how are they going to make their numbers fit, especially their overall number of 85 scholarships? Jonathan Amosa, Cody Bruns, Talia Crichton, Nate Fellner, Justin Glenn, Anthony Gobern, Adam Long, Cole Sager, Drew Schaefer,Semisi Tokolahi and Desmond Trufant were the seniors honored in UW's win over Utah, so assuming a full roster of 85 players right now, that means the Huskies will need to have attrition in the double-digits to make room for all the players they anticipate signing in February. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of players transferring, retiring, etc…

Where does Victor fit? - At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Azeem Victor is the kind of long, rangy athlete that could play a number of positions. He's played three linebacker positions and at defensive end for Pomona this season, and he's also played tight end. That's five spots right there, and there's no reason he couldn't be tried out at the H-back position that Josh Perkins now plays. Victor is a raw talent, but he is a talent. But when you look at Victor's ability and initial plans by the UW coaches for him to start out at the MIK linebacker (middle) spot, how does that impact the other linebackers recruited? If you look at the Scout UW commit list, Washington now has four linebacker commits - Victor, Caleb Tucker, Connor O'Brien and Sean Constantine - but let's take a closer look. Tucker played in Louisiana with his hand down, for the most part. He could end up being the next Josh Shirley when it comes to a player specifically brought in for his pass-rushing instincts.

O'Brien will continue the trend of UW bringing in defensive backs and moving them to linebacker as they get bigger, faster and stronger. The Santa Margarita head-hunter loves to lay the lumber, and he'll be a perfect compliment to current Husky Travis Feeney when it comes to playing on the UW weak side. Put Constantine - a bigger linebacker - to play on the strong side to handle the tight ends and the bigger players coming off the line of scrimmage, and that leaves Victor to handle it all in the middle. Sounds about right.

But where do all these LB commits fit in with Washington's desire to bring in players like Myles Jack and Danny Mattingly, the two top in-state players still left on everyone's recruiting boards? It leaves them in very good shape, actually. Both Jack and Mattingly are players that could easily move up to defensive line depending on how their bodies naturally grow in college, and both have also been big weapons on offense at both Bellevue and Mead, respectively. While getting all these studs under the 85-man total will be the ultimate test for Steve Sarkisian and his staff, there will not necessarily be a logjam at linebacker at this class. Getting long, athletic defenders will be a major point of emphasis for these coaches going forward, and Jack and Mattingly are two of the best on the west coast, which leads me to my next key...

Recruiting longer players - Victor's commitment continues another trend - Washington bringing in longer, lankier players, especially on defense. Feeney is a perfect example of UW recruiting a longer defensive back and moving them up to linebacker to take advantage of his leverage and length to disrupt plays close to the line of scrimmage. Sarkisian has noted a few times this season how having length on the edges of the defensive line and the kind of range length can give you in the linebacking and defensive back corps can really help a defense - especially in the Pac-12 when you face physical, in-your-face offenses like Stanford, Oregon State and USC one week and then you might follow those games up with spread-based attacks like Oregon, Arizona and Washington State the next. The Huskies admittedly struggled mightily with the spread teams, and length can go a long ways in helping to neutralize a team's ability to beat you out wide because longer, taller players can use their size to catch up, to get to footballs to knock them away, to leverage tackles in a pass rush to sack quarterbacks on pass plays or hold the edge on run plays.

Recruiting hard hitters - You would think recruiting players that love contact would be a pre-requisite, but it's something that has really taken on a life of its own with this linebacking class - especially with Victor. Because this is his first year playing with his hand off the ground, his technique is nowhere near where it will need to be for UW linebackers coach Peter Sirmon, but that can be taught. The natural ability to get to a ballcarrier in space quickly is innate, and Victor has that ability. You won't find many high school players at 225 pounds that not only run in a straight line faster than Victor, but also have the ability to change direction and get quickly up to full speed. When Victor can square up on a back, he's going to drive them backwards. He doesn't play behind his pads anywhere near as much as he will at Washington, but when you see him continually rag-dolling ball-carriers it's easy to see two things; he's fearless, and he has no problems getting to backs and getting his hands on them. There's no doubt he won't be able to just spin guys around and take them to the ground one-handed as he can do now - the running backs in the Pac-12 are just too good to be taken down with arm tackles. But if Victor can simply disrupt or hold on, the rest of the linebacking corps this year at UW showed a pursuit to the ball that will turn a Victor arm tackle into a swarming likely tackle for loss.

Just watching the highlights of players like Victor and O'Brien, coupled with what we already know about the hitting ability of players like Feeney, John Timu and Sean Parker - the Huskies are on the verge of being known once again as a defense that will not only attack you but will try to take you out in any way possible within the rules - which means they can start to dictate how the game is played when they are on the field - a far cry from the read-and-react style that Husky fans were accustomed to before Sarkisian revamped the defensive staff last year.

Never stop recruiting - Like Feeney last year, Azeem Victor's recruitment is another testament to Washington's never-ending quest to finding the top talent to fit their personality and their schemes. Sarkisian has called Sirmon 'The Miner' for his ability to dig all over in the search for the best players out there. While the new defensive staff was running around like mad last January trying to put the finishing touches on UW's 2012 recruiting class, Sirmon was back east and in his office, pouring over film with a phone stuck to his ear, laying the foundation for what's happening right now. And when it came to Victor it's clear Sirmon had a plan for how he was going to recruit him away from San Diego State - and it worked. Washington was the first to get in-home with the family, they were the first to come in with a real plan in place for where they envisioned Victor playing and what they wanted to do with him. When you add all of that work to the experience that sells UW to top recruits every year - that's how Washington was able to get Azeem Victor. Don't expect Sirmon and this staff to rest until they have exactly the class they want on February 6th. Then they'll raise a toast to a job well done, get some sleep and then get back to work on 2014. There's still plenty of digging to do. Top Stories