Commitment Impact: Brandon Wellington

In this day of college football recruiting happening earlier and earlier, it’s a great sign that Washington was able to jump-start its 2016 recruiting late last week with the verbal commitment of Brandon Wellington to the Huskies. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior-to-be at Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish plays both ways for the Crusaders, and isn’t picky about where his future lies at UW.

Brandon Wellington Profile

What kind of player is Brandon Wellington? - “Brandon is a very talented kid,” Eastside Catholic Head Coach Jeremy Thielbahr told’s Scott Eklund. “He's so good and he's just starting to figure out things and get better. We love him and I can't say anything more about how the staff at Washington did in recruiting him. (Washington Linebackers) Coach (Bob) Gregory, who is the guy recruiting him for them, and (Washington Head) coach (Chris) Petersen just did it right with him. They did a great job.

"Brandon can do whatever he wants on the football field. He's so good, he could be successful on any side of the ball. If you asked me where I think he'll wind up, I'd say linebacker first, but that isn't taking anything away from him at running back. He's so talented, he could do either at a high level.

"This is a great pickup for them and this is coming from a former Cougar. I just can't say enough about how they recruited him and how good of a player, but also how good of a kid Brandon is. It's a great pickup for U-Dub. They got a really good, and versatile, player."’s Brandon Huffman, who has seen Wellington in camps and games, believes he could be the best in-state athlete right now regardless of class. And when you think of players like Chico McClatcher, Austin Joyner, Myles Gaskin, Benning Potoae, Mustafa Branch, Jackson Keimig, Jayson Williams, Dayzell Wilson, Jared Pulu, Jusstis Warren, Joel Dublanko, Isaac Garcia, Isaiah Gilchrist, Ryan Bowman, Taylor Rapp, Rey Green, Andrzej Hughes-Murray, Foster Sarell, and Salvon Ahmed being in the mix for 2015, 2016, and 2017, that’s heady praise.

For myself, having seen him at the most recent Nike camp in Eugene, I think he could be an incredible defender in college. Even though he worked out at running back, he brought a real defensive mentality to the position. He was tough and aggressive in all his movements, and just had it physically over all the other running backs there, including 2015’s Cameron Scarlett, a four-star RB from Portland who has an offer from Washington.

But decide for yourself. Below is a link to Wellington’s sophomore Hudl highlights. Offense or defense? Maybe both? Maybe the Huskies use him a bit how they plan on using Shaquille Thompson?

Brandon Wellington sophomore highlights

What does Wellington’s commitment mean for the numbers going forward? - Wellington told Dawgman right after he made the commitment public on his twitter feed that the Huskies like him on offense and defense. On offense he’s being recruited as a running back; on defense as an outside linebacker. For 2015, UW already has a verbal commitment from O’Dea’s Myles Gaskin, and there’s a chance they may take another running back because they lose two after the 2014 season - Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier. Cooper may utilize another year of eligibility, but we’ll see what happens with that after the season is over. Either way, it’s a crowded backfield at UW for the foreseeable future.

At linebacker, it may not be as convoluted. If you put Hauoli Kikaha at the BUCK linebacker spot, Washington loses him and John Timu for 2014. Add to that the expected jump of Shaquille Thompson to the NFL if he has the 2014 campaign everyone is expecting, and now Washington is looking to replace three bodies. The Huskies will lose at least three more linebackers in 2015: Travis Feeney, Cory Littleton, and Scott Lawyer, so with six linebackers expected to depart before Wellington matriculates, it appears that he could certainly roll right into the LB mix as another Keishawn Bierria type. And since he’s got two more years to grow before he enrolls at UW, he could grow into a Timu-esque middle linebacker prospect.

Washington doesn’t have any LB commits for 2015 yet, but expect them to grab at least one or two.

What does this mean for 2016 recruiting? - As we’ve seen, 2016 in-state recruiting is already off to a fast start, with Wellington committing to UW and Lake Stevens quarterback Jacob ‘Skinny’ Eason committing to Georgia. Obviously a lot can change from now until February 2016, but it’s important to get off on the right foot.

Petersen and his staff are still earning the trust of UW fans that follow recruiting closely, and while this commitment won’t mean anything until a letter of intent is signed 18 months from now it does show that the new Husky staff is committed to an ‘inside-out’ policy in regards to doing their best to keep the top talent at home. You might ask why that wouldn’t necessarily apply to Eason, and how did he get away to Georgia? Well, again - time is Washington’s friend in this case. There’s well over a year before Eason signs a letter of intent to any program, and he’s already been to at least one Washington practice.

Simply put, kids and families get enamored with the process - but in all my years covering recruiting in the area I’ve seen prospects that only know about UW growing up get their head turned by national powers, only to complete the recruiting process by going full circle and ending up where they first began. Not saying that’s going to happen in Eason’s case, but Washington isn’t backing off him and he doesn’t seem to mind the attention at this point. His recruitment will be an interesting one to watch as it continues to unfold.

What does it mean for UW compared to the competition heading into the 2016 recruiting cycle? - For one thing, the Huskies are already ahead of the rest of the Pac-12 when it comes to recruiting for that year. It’s pretty pointless to claim any sort of great victory here, but it does underscore how an early commit might be parlayed into something greater as the class is put together.

Right now as it stands, Arizona is the only school that is even close in terms of an early resume. They also have a commit from a top-25 running back, a four-star performer from Texas. But he’s rated by as the 25th-best RB for 2016; Wellington is rated as the 10th-best. That’s a pretty good jump.

Other than that, only three other schools have verbal commitments from the Pac-12: USC, Oregon State, and Oregon. The Ducks have a local three-star safety under their wings, while the Beavers have an early commit from a junior college cornerback and the Trojans have a commitment from a local outside linebacker not yet rated by

So enjoy it while it lasts, Husky fans. Right now Wellington’s commitment gives you the best 2016 recruiting class in the Pac-12 conference. That and ten bucks could get you a craft beer in The Zone - but it's a start nonetheless. Top Stories