Coach's Corner

Already, the Huskies 2004 recruiting class is a success. It has a quarterback, and one that is generally considered one of the finest in the country. Simple as that, Coach Gilbertson has added the most important piece of the puzzle because that position alone can have the most impact on his class as well as those that follow it.

It is the single most important position in the game of football. Like the center he touches the ball almost every single play. If you have a good team it's usually because you have a good quarterback that makes good decisions.

You need to take one per year and it must meet the highest criteria in your recruiting efforts. At any one time you should always have 4-5 quarterbacks on scholarship (no more, no less) plus two to three walk-ons to effectively run the program.

After watching teams like Texas struggle at the quarterback position, you have to appreciate the fact that so many good quarterbacks come out of the state of Washington. It explains why so many at that position have left the Huskies and gone on to the NFL. Almost all of the good Husky quarterbacks with the exception of Warren Moon and Mark Brunell have come right out of our own state.

It continues this year.

Fortunately, the Huskies secured a commitment from Matt Tuiasosopo. He is the top recruit for this year. He is probably the highest rated recruit as well (if you're into ratings, which I am not).

Matt is a great kid, from a great family whose heritage is well known at Washington. The name itself will always be respected in this community and he reflects two wonderfully involved parents whose children are all respectful and loving people. They are a true American family that just happens to be great athletes as well.

Matt will become the fourth Tuiasosopo to play at Washington. The most significant of which is Leslie, the eldest child of Manu and Tina, and currently an assistant coach in volleyball at Washington. She is and always will be the first and foremost Tuiasosopo to be a Husky. She personally plotted with me on a weekly basis to get Marques to attend Washington. Then on a home visit, she agreed to attend with me and we proceeded to offer every child in the home including Matt and Ashley, the youngest daughter.

Matt was reminded that no one offered him before the Huskies did. He was in the fifth grade at the time. I hope June Daugherty makes good by reoffering Ashley.

Obviously, the signing of Matt can have a bad ending, especially if he gets offered millions to play baseball. I have heard mixed opinions on his baseball ability and don't know enough about the sport to speculate as to his draft status. By June we will know, but until that time comes, I am pleased that he stayed in the family. I have always believed that Washington kids should attend Washington. Sometimes, however, recruiting that next child is not always that easy.

I visited with Luke Huard the other day and he too was the third son in a row out of the same family. He chose North Carolina and it allowed us to take Jerramy Stevens, who we felt was going to be a tight end all along. It was the same year we were recruiting Taylor Barton, Jason Gesser and Jared Jones out of Walla Walla. Barton went to Colorado, Jones to Florida State, Gesser to Washington State, so we settled on Stevens after passing on Jason Johnson out of Puyallup. Luke says now that he probably should have stayed home and been a Husky but I told him you can't second guess yourself.

None of these kids made up their mind early except Gesser and I still kick myself for not taking him when we had the chance. He went to WSU the week after he visited us and committed because we were honest and didn't offer him on his visit.

That year reminded me of when we were recruiting Mark Brunell. There were three California quarterbacks that year - Brunell, Marinovich, and Johnson. We recruited all three but after Brunell's visit, decided we liked him the best and were waiting to see what the other two would do. One went to USC (Marinovich) and the other went to UCLA (Johnson). That's kind of how it goes with quarterback recruiting. You go after the top 4-5 on the west coast then see how it shakes out. Sometimes you're not in on the right guys but in the case of quarterbacks, you can always bet that the parents want to follow his career so going local always seems to work the best.

Brunell certainly worked out for the best for us, and that is really the guy we thought would be the best Husky. Hindsight is always 20-20, though.

Consequently, players like Pelluer, Millen, Flick, Chandler, Conklin, the Huards, Hobert, and Tuiasosopo have all served Washington well. Those quarterbacks were responsible for a lot of wins for the Huskies. Now the legacy continues, and Matt is certainly well prepared for the challenge and competition.

Sure, baseball could really throw a monkey wrench into the plans, but the fact remains this is already a great recruiting class. Washington has a quarterback that is not only of the highest quality, but also one that keeps the family in tact.

Both his own family and the Husky family.

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