What's in store?

It's a common reaction. Recruits start to look at other schools, position needs aren't apparently being met and coaches start feeling a little warm under the collar. In other words, it's the middle of January and the roller coaster ride known as the recruiting process is at the point where it starts the final steep ascent to a furious and past-paced finish.

This article is nothing more than a big red bow on the present Rick Neuheisel and staff are about to give to Washington football fans on February 6th. It's a position-by-position look to bring Husky fans up to speed on where recruiting is, who are Dawgs right now and who could be Dawgs in the next three weeks.

Quarterback
Isaiah Stanback 6-3, 190 pounds Seattle (Wash.) Garfield. Isaiah is, quite simply, a raw jewel waiting to be polished. With legitimate 4.4 speed, he is an elusive playmaker with a cannon for an arm. With need for only one player here, the coaches got their man.

Running Back
Shelton Sampson 5-11, 175 pounds Tacoma (Wash.) Clover Park. Shelton is a speed back and could also be an answer out wide with his great hands and ability to break away from defenders. He was second to Reggie Williams in the 3A 100 meters at state last year.

With one more player needed here, there's one national recruit that could really fit the bill - Saint Bonaventure's Lorenzo Booker. He's taking a trip to Notre Dame this weekend and the Irish are very much in the thick of things. Florida State and USC are also hanging around, but Booker has professed his love of the Huskies and they look like the team to beat here.

Hershel Dennis recently paid Washington a visit and the Long Beach Poly Jackrabbit likes the Dawgs but rumors persist that he has already verbally committed to USC. South Kitsap's Ryan Cole is also very much in the mix and plans on making his decision in the next 4 or 5 days. Washington is his current leader and it should come down to them, Northwestern, Oregon State and California.

Dos Palos' Kenny James is a player that has already verbally committed to Coach Neuheisel, but with the idea that he still had at least one more trip left to take. Fresno State looks to be the major player here and James will make his decision shortly. La Quinta's Frederick Collins is also a player to watch and he loved his recent official visit to UW. He's a player that could play both ways but is being recruited by the Huskies to play running back. As you can see, there are numerous choices here that the coaches could choose from, but Booker is the cream of the crop. Getting him would be a major coup for Neuheisel, and he knows it.

Receiver
This is a position that doesn't have anybody currently in it, but with the athletes already verbally committed to Washington, it won't be a problem filling it. Both Franklin's Jordan Slye and Sampson would be intriguing options here. Of the players still exercising their options, Kennedy HS phenom Rhema McKnight is the most viable here. At 6-3, he can play the role of a big receiver, like Reggie Williams and he has Reggie's speed. McKnight is a very fluid, natural-looking athlete and would definitely fill out the needs of this position well for the Dawgs.

Tight End
Ben Bandel 6-7 250 pounds, Murietta (Calif.) Murietta Valley
Jason Benn 6-4 240 pounds, Seattle (Wash.) O'Dea
With two solid verbal commits under their belts, the Huskies are done here. Bandel is a bigger tight end in the Jerramy Stevens - Joe Toledo mold, while Benn is more in the mold of past Dawg tight ends like Mark Bruener and Ernie Conwell, with solid size and plenty of fight in them. The tight end position has always been a strength in a Keith Gilbertson-led offensive attack, so expect these guys to make their marks in a few years.

Offensive Linemen
Nathan Rhodes 6-7 300 pounds, Bakersfield (Calif.) East
Albert Toeaina 6-5 320 pounds, Pittsburg, California
Clay Walker 6-4 280 pounds, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Horizon
Robin Kezirian 6-3 275 pounds, Fresno (Calif.) Central


Add in CCSF tackle Francisco Tipoti, who is enrolled and waiting for spring ball, and you've got yourself one balanced class of tackles, guards and center. Rhodes and Toeaina are considered two of the top tackles in the West and are just scratching the surface in terms of their potential. Inside, Walker and Kezirian are true battlers that will duke it out with anyone, anytime.

There's room for one more player in this group - Dallas (Texas) Highland Park lineman Kyle Williams would make this group truly complete as a hard-nosed tackle who may be the best pass-rush specialist in the prep ranks today. Any time a player of Kyle's caliber is available, you take him. Also still available, but has been a bit of a forgotten man lately is San Diego (Calif.) Marian Catholic lineman Stanley Daniels. Stanley was paid a visit by the Husky coaches this week. Does that mean that his verbal commitment to Nebraska is wavering? Let's wait and see.

THE DEFENSE

Defensive Line
Donny Mateaki 6-7 270 pounds, Honolulu (Hawaii) Iolani
Maurice Murray 6-4 300 pounds, Long Beach (Calif.) Poly
Jordan Reffett 6-6 260 pounds, Moses Lake, Washington
Dan Milsten 6-5 250 pounds, Puyallup (Wash.) Rogers


Here's one position that has a lot of people already committed, but more could certainly sweeten the pot, and they are all out there. Mateaki is the jewel of this group. The 'wrecking machine', as he's known is a real havoc-maker in the middle and with a 405-pound bench he'll be a stalwart inside. Murray is a bit of a question mark in terms of becoming eligible to enroll, but he's a player that could make a difference on either side of the ball. Reffett and Milsten are players that can flat out run and have motors that just don't stop. Both of them have the same makeup and in-state roots to follow in the footsteps of some great homegown talent.

Expect the Husky coaches to close STRONG on the defensive line. With two top islanders in JT Mapu and Brandon Ala leaning towards the Huskies, Neuheisel could complete a clean sweep of the top-3 players in Hawaii by getting their signatures on Letter-of-Intent day. Mapu is scheduled to visit Tennessee this weekend and decide between the Volunteers, Huskies and BYU Cougars. Ala is poised on the edge of making a decision between Washington and Oregon in what has become quite a hard-fought affair.

Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro defensive tackle Loren Howard is a 6-5, 275-pound bundle of energy that just makes plays. He's considered the top tackle in the state and the Huskies are in good position to land his verbal commit as things come down to the home stretch.

And then there's Haloti Ngata. The 6-4, 300-pound terror from Salt Lake City has bounced from commit to commit and there still may be room for another one before signing day is complete. With Nebraska, BYU and Oregon firmly in the running, Washington is looking to make a last-dash at Ngata in the hopes they can rekindle the fond memories Haloti had of the Emerald City during his official visit. If they find the conditions to their liking, expect Neuheisel to dive in with his boots on in an attempt to grab the number one defensive tackle in the country from the clutches of the Huskers, Ducks and Cougs. This one may not be over until signing day and may go on even longer than that.

Linebackers
Scott White 6-2 230 pounds, San Diego (Calif.) Mission Bay
Dash Crutchley 6-6 220 pounds, Temecula (Calif.) Chaparral


The Huskies needed two and they got two. More than that, they got what they wanted in terms of athleticism and experience. White gives them the experience, having played on 2 CIF championship teams at Mission Bay, racking up nearly 350 tackles along the way. Crutchley is a physical specimen who will fill out and play an outside linebacker position at close to 240-250 pounds by the time he's ready to step on the field. He's a rangy player like Will Conwell that can run. He's also a star soccer player and is used to moving and roving at all times. He should be a very active linebacker in the future.

Cornerback
Matthew Fountaine 5-11 175 pounds, Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd


This is a position that is essentially full, due to the fact that Eric Shyne is already in school and ready to go for spring football. Shyne and Fountaine are very similar players, each explosive runners with moves and great athleticism. They can jump out of the stadium. They are being brought in specifically as cover corners to help Derrick Johnson, Chris Massey, Roc Alexander and Sam Cunningham. That core group should be exception for a few years.

Safety
Here's the one position of need that hasn't been addressed yet to date and will have to be filled by one of a couple of choices left on the board. Cathedral's Mike Davis Jr is one player that has committed to a couple of different schools during the recruiting process, ASU and Washington, and will need to arrive at a final decision soon before signing day arrives. The Huskies are going to pull the full-court press on Mike, as he's got the size (6-3, 190 pounds) to be a ball-hawking safety while also coming up tight against the line of scrimmage to support the run. This has all the makings of a true battle royale between the Devil and Dawg coaching staffs.

The other prospect to look at is Jarrad Page, a 6-0, 180-pound athlete from San Leandro, California who is a two-sport terror. He's as prolific on the diamond as he is on the gridiron. With his abilities, both UCLA and UW are going neck-and-neck for his services. His brother was a Bruin, so there's no question the Bru Crew has an edge if it's too close to call. However, UCLA is stacked with athletes in their class and the Huskies have a clear, immediate need. Page expects to announce soon, and it's one that has both Westwood and Montlake can't wait to hear.

Athletes
Jordan Slye 6-5 200 pounds, Seattle (Wash.) Franklin

This category is here for two players and two players only - Slye and Seattle (Wash.) Rainier Beach ATH Nate Robinson. Jordan is a natural quarterback, but is being brought in as an athlete in the hopes he can develop into a player at receiver or perhaps on defense. He has the speed (4.5) and hands to be a quality possession receiver.

At 5-9 and 180 pounds, Robinson is truly one athlete who can do it all. With a 41.5-inch vertical jump, he could be a stellar defensive back, but he also has the moves and instinct of a running back/slot back. He can also do it as a return guy. Think of Nate as another Willie Hurst. The Huskies are recruiting Nate hard and want to pull out all the stops to land him. It's unclear whether or not USC pulled a verbal commitment out of Nate, so the next couple of weeks could be most interesting for the son of former Washington great Jacque Robinson.

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