Coach's Corner

We won't know for four or five years, but first impressions on the incoming recruiting class are in and, from my seat, it appears to be a solid group of new players. I personally believe that you cannot properly evaluate a class before it runs the full five years.

Then you will know how many championships they have won, how many bowl games they have played in, how many players ended up playing beyond the college level, and finally and most importantly how many graduate with their degrees.

To rank and rate recruiting classes is simply a stupid obsession with predicting the future. Who can say how each kid adapts to the next level? There will always be attrition and there are all sorts of reasons why kids never complete their commitment to the scholarship agreement.

I won't rate it, but I will tell you what I think so far.

The class is deep, 27 strong, and the two JC transfers appear to be capable of contributing early in terms of depth. Tight End Jon Lyon is getting plenty of reps because of injuries to Joe Toledo and Ben Bandel and should be a good depth player. Bandel and Toledo will form an awesome two tight end attack and will look to be on the field together a lot. Consequently, the third and fourth tight ends are critical for depth, hence Lyon will be in that mix.

Mike Mapu, the JC defensive end, made great strides in the spring only to go home for the summer and lose it all by not coming back in shape. He is now working his way back up and will earn significant minutes because of the need at his position. Once he gets in shape, I expect that he'll be the bookend to Manase Hopoi on the other end.

Carl Bonnell is better than any high school quarterback recruit they could have signed. I predict that he will redshirt to create a year gap between him and Isaiah Stanback. He is obviously a very gifted runner of the option and shows a good arm despite sitting out of football for over a year.

Of the 24 high school kids signed, the ones who caught my eye and appear to have the best chance of contributing this year are the punter Sean Douglas (now that he has corrected his drop); Dre Simpson, a Dana Hall type tall corner; CJ Wallace, a torpedo attacking free safety, and probably two to three of the freshmen wide receivers. Based upon what I have watched in Olympia, my guess is that the kids who can help the Dawgs the most are Anthony Russo (who wasn't even recruited as a receiver) and Corey Williams, a 6-3 target out of Las Vegas.

Russo, from Tacoma's Lakes High School, brings an element to the table that no one else has - his quickness. He is being tried at slot receiver and shows an ability to both get open and to catch the ball. He is probably the biggest surprise of the incoming class. He is awfully slight though and could probably use a redshirt year to get used to his new position, but I still think his uniqueness will get him on the field this coming season. He and Sonny Shackelford are having a nice battle.

Speaking of "Shack," he and Quintin Daniels are significantly ahead of Craig Chambers, and maybe slightly ahead of Bobby Whithorne, although Whithorne runs silky smooth routes. Charles Smith split his hand open and has been unable to compete. Shackelford has good hands while Quintin has the blazing speed to go with decent hands.

Linemen are usually never ready to play as freshmen, and the few linemen they brought in; all look to be able to help down the road. Erik Berglund and Chad Macklin are both houses and definitely future offensive tackles. Juan Garcia has yet to come to camp, courtesy of the clearinghouse, but I'm certain he would've redshirted anyhow.

Counting the punter, two defensive backs, three wide receivers, and maybe a running back, linebacker, or kicker, that calculates to as many as six or seven true freshmen that will see the field this fall. Of course, that is both good and bad. The good is that it means you had a good recruiting class, but the bad is that your depth shortage forces you to play them so early. You still win with redshirt seniors and I am positive Gilbs will redshirt whenever he can.

Counting the JC's, there could be as many as 9-10 newcomers hitting the field for the Huskies. But hey, you have a great quarterback and wide receivers already, so why not make a run at the championship right now as opposed to five years from now? That's where the decisions are so critical with the playing of the true freshmen.

It's a different game than it was back in the 80s and early 90s. If kids are really good, they now leave early for the draft and you never have them for their fifth year anyway. How many think that Reggie Williams will return for his fourth year?

If you play the true frosh now, you're also hoping they don't get hurt, which tends to happen with rookies. But you have to play the kids who will upgrade your kicking game and carry the backups who are legitimately in your two deeps. If you have to play them, do so, but try to redshirt as many as possible. Top Stories