Hasty in no hurry

It's the worst feeling in the world, especially when it comes to life-changing decisions. You are all set, you're ready to make a commitment, and then something comes down the pike that alters your way of thinking - to the point where you are back to square one. That almost happened to Bellevue's J.R. Hasty, the unanimous pick for State Player of the Year. Almost.

The 5-11, 200-pound Hasty went with teammate EJ Savannah to watch Washington play North Carolina State in mens basketball Sunday, but he was really there to get an idea as to whether or not the University of Washington was a place he could see himself going to school and playing football. He got two signs the moment he walked on campus that altered Hasty's perception of the Husky program. "We got there and went to the coaches' office and saw the big lines with all the U-Dub students," Hasty told Dawgman.com about his encounter with 'Romarville' outside of Hec Ed. "They recognized us, telling us to go there. We met with the coaches and met with Tyrone personally. Then we hung out waiting for the game, meeting other people."

J.R. admitted that it was nice getting a little love from the fans. "It's cool, because it shows you that the fans are really into it, it shows what kind of fan support they have."

But Hasty, the son of former NFL great James Hasty, has been around the block. As a four-year state champion with the Bellevue Wolverines, including a win over California power De La Salle earlier this year, Hasty has seen a lot of things and experienced a lot more than most prepsters his age. He knew the real reason he was invited.

"They offered a chance for me and E.J. because they wanted to get a feel for the local guys they are recruiting," he said. "They want to turn things around there pretty drastically and they thought they could start with the local guys. So they offered me, EJ, Jonathan Stewart and some other recruits to come to the basketball game. It was a good experience and it was fun. It was a good game. NC State lost to U-Dub. We met a lot of the coaches and also met Tyrone Willingham.

"I like to watch basketball. I like the NBA. I love what the Sonics are doing right now."

But it was that last thing - the meeting with Willingham - that had piqued Hasty's interest from the onset. Fired unceremoniously under a cloud of controversy last month at Notre Dame, the stoic Willingham was brought to Montlake with the idea of turning around a program that had lost its compass - both on the football and off of it. He spoke passionately Monday of the need to recruit inside-out, to start with the best players the state of Washington has to offer and put a fence around the region. Apparently by his first action meeting with Hasty Sunday, Willingham feels J.R. fits in nicely with that plan.

"When he walked in he offered a scholarship," said J.R. "It was a good way to start the meeting, but I'm just looking at them just like I'm looking at all the other schools that have offered me a scholarship."

And his first impression of Washington's new coach? "I don't really go off what the media says, I just wanted to wait for a chance to meet him. When I did, he was kind of soft-spoken, but used strong words," said Hasty. "It sounded like he knew what he wants to do. He said that he loves U-Dub and he loves being there and he really wants to turn things around. He thought that the recruits that he wants can help change that. He also told me about the four things that he's looking for - people that love to win, people that are good students and people that have a good work ethic - things like that."

But Willingham stopped short of solidifying an official visit. "They are trying to (set up a visit)," said Hasty. "They told me that they are going to give me a call later on."

Make no mistake, Tyrone Willingham needs to make fast friends with the local recruits if he has any chance of salvaging a recruiting class woefully behind by any standard. UW's current three verbal commitments pales in comparison when looking at the other northwest Pac-10 schools - Washington State (13), Oregon (10) and Oregon State (8). Working quickly is of the essence. Hasty wants it to be that way as well, but he also wants to make sure all his bases are covered.

"I do want it to end really quickly, but I also know that it's a process you want to take your time with," said Hasty. "You don't want to rush anything or make a decision that you are going to be holding your head for for the next four years. That's what I'm looking at right now."

The general impression made after Hasty's unofficial visit to Washington is that, while it didn't blow him away, it did put some serious second-thoughts into his mind. "Yeah, I need to be fair to the other colleges," he said. "U-Dub needs to pick up some ground. It's not fair for the other guys to say that U-Dub just came in and now all of a sudden it's like, 'I love U-Dub'.

"It wouldn't be fair for me to make a decision right now. But if today was the last day, based on the in-house visits I've had with coaches and what I know about them, I would lean more toward the schools I know. It's not just one school, it's more like a group, the ones I've been around. But now that U-Dub is in the mix, things are more shuffled up than before. It's making me reconsider some things."

Hasty will visit Oregon (1/7), Colorado and Washington before making that fateful decision. And the chances that he'll have more of those 'feelings' along the way to that decision grows by the day.

J.R. Hasty Scout Profile

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