Commitment Impact: Benning Potoae

Last Thursday, Benning Potoae made his verbal commitment to Washington official, announcing his intent in front of friends and family at a small media gathering at Lakes High School. When he picked out a Washington hat and said he was going to be a Husky, UW recruitniks near and far collectively exhaled. And with the news came a clear message; Chris Petersen isn't messing around in-state.

Benning Potoae became Washington’s 23rd known public commitment for their 2015 recruiting class. Below is his announcement with Lakes Head Coach Dave Miller.

What is UW Getting in Benning Potoae? - You can view Benning’s senior Hudl tape HERE. Benning is Scout.com’s No. 1 recruit from the state of Washington, an AP All-State First Team pick, and a Semper Fidelis All-American with fellow UW commit Austin Joyner.

“With Potoae, the Huskies aren’t just getting the No. 1 player in the state for the second year in a row, they’re also getting a tighter grip on the in-state talent,” said Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Brandon Huffman. “In Potoae, they’re getting an athletic, explosive and physical player who physically is already to play. Playing varsity at a program like Lakes since his freshman year, Potoae is no stranger to high expectations and pressure. While the talent pool dwindled a bit around him, that made him the focus of opposing offenses because of his ability to disrupt plays. At times, that was a curse, since he’d get worn down, but his motor still is one of the best you’ll find in the region. What’s encouraging for the Huskies is that with less pressure to be “the guy” early on, Potoae should be able to let loose a little more and flourish in the BUCK spot."

What Do For Washington’s Numbers Going Forward? - With Bryce Sterk’s commitment after his official visit this weekend, that makes 24 known public verbal commitments. At this point, only Chris Warren appears to be the main UW target left on their board, as his teammate Xavier Castille verbally committed to SMU this past weekend and is expected to cancel his official visit to UW. With A.J. Carty and Myles Rice having greyshirt options on the table, there’s room for additional 2015 commits if Washington was able to land a top, top prospect - but at this point it appears as if it’s Warren-Or-Bust to finish out this current class.

As far as the DL/LB positions, Potoae said that the Huskies are recruiting him for the hybrid BUCK LB/DE spot occupied by Hauoli Kikaha in 2014. Big shoes to fill, but the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Potoae, who benches 440 pounds and runs a 4.65 40, has a chance to be as productive. For 2015, Psalm Wooching needs to step up to show he’s ready to put the lessons learned under Kikaha to practice, and Cory Littleton also should factor into the mix there. Defensive Line Coach Jeff Choate said that Jaylen Johnson was being groomed to be a BUCK, and there’s a chance Shane Bowman could also factor into the position battle there, so that’s four players in front of Potoae that should have at the very least an advantage in terms of already understanding the system and the speed of the game at the collegiate level. With Rice most likely greyshirting to rehab from a knee injury, that’s one less 2015 player that would compete with Potoae for playing time. Sterk, at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, has the frame and athleticism to also be a BUCK, whereas the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Jason Scrempos will be strictly a defensive lineman. So is it possible Potoae could be ready to contribute as a true freshman? Physically he passes the look test in a big way and of the frosh coming in there’s no question he would be the one most ready to go from the jump - but with Littleton, Wooching, Johnson and possibly Bowman in the mix at BUCK, it would be ideal for the Huskies to redshirt Potoae so he could hit the ground running in 2016.

What Does This Do For In-State Recruiting Going Forward? - With Washington keeping Scout.com’s No. 1 in-state prospect home, and admittedly a player that was looking hard at schools like UCLA, Oregon and Oregon State before deciding on the Huskies, it sends a signal loud and clear that Chris Petersen is putting an emphasis on the in-state studs. Potoae’s brother Sione had a decent career at UW, but it was clear in talking to Benning and his family that Sione’s Montlake experience left plenty to be desired, and the switch from Steve Sarkisian to Petersen played big in their decision to go to Washington.

For a long time Benning felt like he needed to go away to do his own thing, that if he went to UW he’d be compared to Sione or would have to fight being in Sione’s shadow. Give huge credit to the new UW staff for making sure Benning knew that he could go to Washington and still be his own man, lay his own claim. Once it became clear Benning felt comfortable with that thought, keeping him home was simply a matter of maintenance and diligence. The Huskies had Benning as one of their ‘must haves’ for a long time, and they always made him a priority when it came to going to his game, making sure he knew they were always watching, always showing the love.

Benning’s comments, as well as those of his father Aleki, simply reaffirmed the belief that Petersen is committed to re-establishing the Husky brand in-state and recruiting the top Washington prospects hard. And the proof is reflected in the results; of Scout.com’s top-7 in-state prospects, only QB Brett Rypien isn’t going to UW, and the fact is Rypien would be a Husky if he had committed before Jake Browning declared his own purple-and-gold intentions.

Add to it there are five in-state players already in Scout.com’s early top-300 for 2016: Lake Stevens’ Jacob Eason (37), Eastside Catholic’s Brandon Wellington (92), Aberdeen’s Joel Dublanko (191), Isaiah Gilchrist (202), and Isaac Garcia (216). Eason and Garcia are already verbally committed to Georgia and USC, respectively, but Wellington has committed to Washington, and Petersen is hard after the other top-300 in-state player they’ve already offered, Gilchrist. Eason’s commitment to Georgia is well-documented, and Garcia is originally from southern California, hence the early decision.

And of the 2016 players already awarded three stars by Scout.com, UW has offered Tahoma big athlete Amandre Williams and could be close to offering rangy Bellevue WR Tyson Penn.


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