Impact Report: K.J. Carta-Samuels

When Washington was recruiting under Steve Sarkisian, they looked at a few quarterbacks for the 2014 class but as the season hit it became clear that Sark wasn't all that concerned with targeting a signal-caller for that class. Now that Chris Petersen is at UW, a whole new recruiting philosophy has taken root, and with it a new set of priorities.

Petersen made quarterback a clear recruiting priority when he got Jalen Greene to take an official visit to Seattle a week after Pete took office at Montlake. Greene would eventually sign with USC, but the word was out; the Washington Huskies were going to take a quarterback for 2014.

They got their man Wednesday when K.J. Carta-Samuels, a 6-foot-4, 207-pound quarterback from Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, tweeted out his verbal commitment to the Huskies after being a long-standing commitment to Vanderbilt. Carta-Samuels was set on following his brother Austyn there, and was so sold on the Commodores that he verbally committed to them 18 months ago.



But college football is first and foremost a business, so when Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin took the Penn State job, Carta-Samuels's future was uncertain. He had committed so early on that most schools that wanted to recruit him backed off and looked elsewhere. And quarterback recruiting goes much, much faster than other positions; there's only so many top-caliber field generals to go around, and when they are gone you normally don't just take a body to fill a need.

But in the case of Petersen and Washington they were able to fill a need at quarterback with a quality player. Carta-Samuels plays in an offense that doesn't showcase his arsenal of skills, but according to Brandon Huffman and Greg Biggins of Scout.com, Carta-Samuels showed enough of himself as a passer and as an athlete to garner a four-star rating. That means he's not only a very good player right now but he has the potential to be even better. He starred in an offense that mostly ran the ball for Bellarmine Prep, so he's got the ability to tuck it and take off. Watching his highlights, it's clear K.J. has the arm capable of making every throw that Petersen and UW QB Coach Jonathan Smith will require of him. He grew up in a household where being a quarterback was important. Austyn played at the SEC level, and that was K.J.'s dream as well. They clearly understand what it takes to make it to that level and have staying power. In short, the kid was groomed for it.

This is what the Scout.com staff said about Carta-Samuels in late August after they were able to see him perform throughout the spring and summer camps, including The Opening - "You can make an argument that in a group of quarterbacks that all have plus arm strength, Carta-Samuels may have the biggest arm in the group. The quarterback loves the weight room and is a tireless worker on his game. He may not be as good an athlete as his older brother Austyn, who is a senior at Vanderbilit, but he moves around very well and is a better pure thrower. He needs reps, as he plays in a system that doesn't throw much, but showed all summer that he has a ton of upside."

This commitment should act as a positive sign to those unsure Petersen has the chops to close the deal on a top recruit. Up to now, many could argue that all Chris Petersen has done up to this point in his recruitment of players to Washington is raid his Boise State list. In fact, the name making the BSU rounds right now is 'Poach Petersen'. And the arguments have merit; since coming aboard in early December, UW has picked up 10 commitments, and nearly all of them had Boise State offers or were committed to the Broncos at one time or another. And that's probably not going to stop any time soon, at least for the 2014 class. The new UW staff were scrambling from the beginning and this class was never going to give UW fans a true glimpse into Petersen's recruiting prowess. But with Carta-Samuels's commitment, they've gotten a little slice of not only the kind of player Petersen will target down the road, but also the fact that he can land those targets. Carta-Samuels did pick UW over Boise State in the end, but had Carta-Samuels been given more time to take visits and open up his recruitment after Franklin's announcement, there's no question in my mind he would have been a very coveted recruit.

When Carta-Samuels tweeted his commitment to UW, he purposely added Budda Baker's twitter account to his tweet; KJCS knows how important a player like Baker is to the class and is already recruiting the Bellevue standout to Montlake. That's just another check in the 'plus' column for Carta-Samuels when looking for clues into his leadership and charisma as the leader of the offense.

There were two reasons Sarkisian was set on not recruiting a quarterback in 2014: He wasn't sold on a top prospect to come into the pecking order at UW, so he was willing to wait on a much better crop in 2015, and he was already sold on the guys he had in the fold. That may not be the case anymore. Cyler Miles, Jeff Lindquist, and Troy Williams arguably comprise the best three-deep QB situation of any school in the Pac-12 right now, but with a new head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and scheme now in place, there's no guarantee those three are going to be around past spring football. That's simply the reality of how college football works in 2014. Players get attached to coaches more than schools, so if the new Washington staff get enamored with one or two of the quarterbacks already here, the third guy might read his time at UW is short and move on. We've all seen how quickly backups can play a starting role, especially at quarterback - and we all saw it this year with Miles. But players are a fickle sort, and if they sense something's up they are more likely to move than stick nowadays.

With the commitment of Carta-Samuels at quarterback, Petersen has bought himself an insurance policy. The standard rule of thumb is to sign a top quarterback in every class anyway, and by landing a top-25 prospect at that position with two weeks to Signing Day Pete has pulled off a coup. But more importantly, Carta-Samuels can act as cover in case one of the quarterbacks decides to leave. Ideally Washington will have four very good quarterbacks in the fold at the start of summer LEAP program, but with K.J.'s commitment they are guaranteed three even if a worst-case scenario unfolds.


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