Perkins takes unofficial

It was an atmosphere suitable for framing. The Washington basketball team defeated #12 North Carolina State to avenge a 2003 loss Sunday, in a super-charged Hec Ed. Ryan Perkins was one of those on hand to witness the game, but he was there for more than that.

The 6-0, 185-pound Perkins from Olympia (Wash.) North Thurston was in the stands as part of a group of in-state high school football recruits hand-picked by new UW Head Coach Tyrone Willingham invited to witness what Washington athletics is all about. They got their money's worth, and then some.

"Fan support was awesome, so hopefully that opened some eyes to some people," Perkins told Sunday night. The Ram kicker, who is verbally committed to play football for the Huskies next year, has an ample pigskin resume in his own right; 47-yard punting average for the year and 4-8 kicking with a long of 48 yards.

He was named to his league's first team, as well as the South Sound all-area team. He was voted onto the Associated Press, Tacoma News Tribune and Seattle Times' first-team all-state teams. But he wasn't asked to punt or kick on Sunday. He was asked to help promote Washington's football program.

"You know me and the Huskies," Perkins said. "I was the only guy really screaming during the game. Most of the other guys had their poker faces on." Jonathan Stewart, EJ Savannah, JR Hasty and Tyrone Davis were the other in-state prospects that attended the basketball game. "Tyrone's Dad and brother from Central (Washington) was there too. I hear (Tony) Felder couldn't make it because he was stuck at the airport coming back from an official visit somewhere."

Perkins laid out the agenda. "Each athlete got to go in and have a one-on-one with Coach Tyrone," he said. "We also met after the game with the Athletic Director and President Emmert as a group. They told us their goal and why we were there - that the top recruits in Washington should stay in Washington. They were putting an emphasis on that kind of stuff. Basically it was a chance to meet Willingham, Emmert and Turner and see them and hear their goals for the future."

And what was Willingham's conversation with Perkins? "He said that from what he's read and seen that I'm a guy that can come in and start," said Ryan. "I'll compete my first year, it sounds like."

As far as the others, to steal a line from hoops coach Lorenzo Romar - they had their 'cool jackets' on. "I wanted to get a feel for what they were thinking," said Perkins. "The Davises were really into the game, cheering the Huskies on. The other guys were more laid-back, watching the game. They play the poker face really well. They didn't seem interested, but they didn't seem bored at the same time."

One thing Ryan did say was that he was under the impression that Chris Tormey and Randy Hart were staying on to coach under Willingham. "They told us that they are going to go for the best of the best, the guys that are the most beneficial for the program," said Perkins. "You can tell that Coach Willingham, Coach Hart and Coach Tormey all get along really well. They have a good connection already.

"With the way we're going and the goals they have, I think U-Dub is going to open some eyes."

Perkins will visit on January 14th, but was unsure if any of the other recruits visiting set up visits Sunday night.

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