“I definitely have a lot of great options from Big Sky schools and I’m very fortunate and thankful for those coaches to taking a shot on me, but I just felt like going through the recruiting process I never really found the right fit,” Blake Gregory said after announcing his decision via Twitter to accept Washington preferred walk-on opportunity.
“I always knew Washington was kind of the place I wanted to pursue as a young kid and it’s always been a dream of mine to put on the purple and gold. My relationship with coach (Jonathan) Smith is a good one, and he would always check in with me and we’ve always been in touch throughout the season. They were one of the first schools that actually talked to me, brought me out for Junior Day and stuff like that, which was pretty awesome.”
“This is a huge pickup for Washington,” added Taylor Barton, who has been training Gregory for the last two years. “For a preferred walk-on, this is as good as you can get anywhere in the country. There’s a reason he had as many full scholarship offers as he did. In a lot of years with Washington’s situation, he would have been a scholarship guy.”
Gregory, who threw for over 3200 yards, 36 touchdowns and five interceptions while the Spartans made their run to the Class 4A Title game versus Gonzaga Prep, had scholarship offers - five of them. Weber State, Idaho State, Northern Iowa, Montana State, and UC-Davis were Gregory’s offers, and he officially visited Montana State, Weber State, and UC-Davis. Weber State offered in-season, and Montana State offered right after the Spartans defeated Lake Stevens in the Class 4A semifinal game.
“I wanted to make the most out of the recruiting experience, go on all those visits and check out spots and see if it would be a potential place,” said Gregory. “My and my Dad (Doug) talked about going through the process and enjoying it and having a good time with it. I know it can be stressful, but making the most of it, seeing all these places is an awesome experience. Had to compare and contrast the pros and cons, all of it. So I felt it was right to get out there and give those other schools a shot. They were definitely schools I wanted to consider.”
But the Huskies were always in the back of Gregory’s mind.
“I talked to coach Smith a while back during junior year, got out there for Junior Day,” he said. “We stayed in touch, played the whole thing out and just kept staying in touch. Later down the road this season I heard about the offer to walk-on I was very excited and very fortunate for that opportunity.
“I started going to Washington games when I was around five years old. My Dad is a season-ticket holder and has been for quite some time. And there’s also some players that I knew that went to U-Dub and some family members that went to U-Dub. It’s always been the top school that I’ve wanted to go to. I was very fortunate when I heard the news that I would be offered a preferred walk-on spot.”
Gregory went in-season on an unofficial visit to Washington to hang out with coach Smith and to see the facilities. “I’ve been out there a few times for games and Junior Day,” he added.
“I know what it’s all about.”
And then on Sunday Gregory put the finishing touches on his recruitment by calling all the coaches and notifying them of his choice to stay home and play for Washington.
“I just feel like it would be a great fit for me,” he said. “Close to home, good experience and a lot of great opportunities that may come.”
And how does Gregory see himself fitting in with players like Jake Browning, K.J. Carta-Samuels, and Daniel Bridge-Gadd?
“I just want to fit in however they want me to fit in,” he said. “I’m extremely blessed to have this opportunity and I’ll definitely work hard. There’s some quarterbacks there at Washington right now and I understand that. I want to get in there and compete and fill that role that is whatever is best for the team.
“Our philosophy at Skyline is to take what the defense gives you. I try to be consistent with that and not try and do too much. At the same time when something breaks down you’ve got to be able to make plays and eliminate the negatives out of plays and do what’s best for your team.”
“Blake is neat because he can fit into any system,” added Barton. “With his arm strength he can fit into just a purely passing system, but with his athletic ability he can go into any dual-threat system. He’s the type of quarterback that Chris Petersen and Jonathan Smith really want.”
Gregory is hoping his difficult run with the Spartans this past season can help push him in a positive way toward a productive career in college. “I know early in the season some people didn’t put us as high up in the rankings, but we just put our head down and went to work,” he said. “After that Graham-Kapowsin game (close loss) we kind of got knocked off the state rankings once again. It wasn’t really a surprise to me how successful we could be in our season with the guys around me and our coaching staff. All around it was a great season and that playoff run we had - it was a tough road definitely going against the No. 3 (Gig Harbor), 2 (Camas) and No. 1 teams (Lake Stevens) back-to-back-to-back. It was a great experience, definitely learned a lot from it and had fun doing it.”
After running the gauntlet of beating the top-three teams in the state, Skyline still had to finish against Gonzaga, but couldn’t get over the hump - eventually capitulating to the Bullpups 34-16.
“I’ve always dreamed about winning a state championship and having that on my resume,” Gregory said. “My brother (Mason) did it and I wanted to include myself on that list. But otherwise I thought we had a great season and I think I grew as a player. I worked hard over the off-season with multiple coaches to get to where I was and I thought it paid off pretty well.
“This year shows the potential that we have. We have a lot of young guys that stepped up big. For me, up front we had a lot of young guys that were big in protection. On the defensive side of the ball there’s a lot of guys that are coming back that I think can be great players.”
Now that his prep career is done, will Gregory try and enroll early? “I’m not sure,” he said. “I have to talk that over with coach Smith. We talked a bit about doing the Bridge program (LEAP) and getting out there and getting a feel for it, getting acclimated.”