With recruiting season now in full swing, the LOI moment of truth draws nigh for college football programs across the land. This year's recruiting season is shaping up to be a whopper of a cash crop for Dawg fans. We've secured some big-name verbal commits, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that top prospect Lorenzo Booker accidentally oversleeps and misses his flight to South Bend this weekend.
Recruiting has been described as an "inexact science" many times over, and through the years this has been born out peculiarly on many occasions. I thought it would be fun to take a look back over the last 15 years at some recruits that came in to Montlake, review how they were regarded, and check out what ultimately became of their Husky careers.
THE MOTHER OF ALL SLEEPERS
Name: Steve Emtman
Incoming Year: 1988 - Recruited by UW, Washington State, and Boise State
Defining Moment: His back-to-back sacks of the Arizona quarterback on the games first two plays, 1991.
Generally Regarded: He was named to College Football's All-Century team. That kind of sums it up.
HONORABLE MENTION SLEEPERS
Name: Jerome Pathon
Incoming Year: 1995
Defining Moment: TD catch against Michigan State in Aloha Bowl
Generally Regarded: Came from Arcadia College in Nova Scotia (for crying out loud!), and was a long-jumper on Canadian National team. Developed into one of the better receivers in Husky History.
Name: Andy Mason
Incoming Year: 1988 - Recruited by NW schools
Defining Moment: Anytime he got a QB sack, he would brandish his six-shooters and fire them jubilantly skyward . . . until he was flagged for it as a senior
Generally Regarded: A lightning-fast exciting player on the greatest of UW defenses
Name: Ink Aleaga
Incoming Year: 1992 - Recruited by only Utah and Hawaii
Defining Moment: '94 ASU game, 15 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, recovered a fumble and returned an interception 23 yards for a TD
Generally Regarded: Ink evolved into one of the hardest-hitting Huskies and was a top-notch linebacker.
DIDN'T GO ACCORDING TO PLAN
Name: Jason Shelley
Incoming Year: 1992 - Recruited heavily by Penn State, Miami, Notre Dame
Defining Moment: Spectacular leaping 64-yard TD reception against Michigan in '93 Rose Bowl
Generally Regarded: Had all of the physical tools of Reggie Williams but an undiagnosed ADD problem severely hindered his ability to make correct decisions off of the football field. He only lasted one year in the program and was last seen playing professionally in Europe. He was an incredible baseball player as well and had the most amazing slam-dunk ever seen in Hec-Ed.
PLAYERS WHO GOT THE MOST FROM THEMSELVES
Name: Marques Tuiasosopo
Incoming Year: 1997 - Not recruited as a QB by anyone, except UW
Defining Moment: Before 74,000 scared-to-death fans, Tui the pure freshman enters for an injured Brock Huard and throws for 270 yards and 2 TDS against Nebraska on national TV.
Generally Regarded: Perhaps rivaled only by Bob Schloredt and George Wilson, Tui was the player who most embodied the whole team through himself. Consistently willed his Huskies to victory, often in the face of steep odds.
Name: Gerald Harris
Incoming Year: 1995 - lightly recruited out of Kent Meridian HS
Defining Moment: 64-yard TD catch from fellow freshman Brock Huard against ASU in 1996, Spectacular, diving TD catch against Stanford in 1999
Generally Regarded: Not blessed with the blazing speed of a Jason Shelley, Gerald's hard work paid and persistence through injuries paid off, providing solid duty as a much-needed receiver in 1999.
STARS WEREN'T ALIGNED PROPERLY
Name: Leon Neal
Incoming Year: 1991 - overshadowed by Napoleon Kaufman
Defining Moment: 152 yards rushing despite broken foot against USC in 1995
Generally Regarded: Lived in Kaufman's shadow for four years, then was snake-bitten with injury in his final '95 campaign. Played with the Colts of the NFL. A quality running back with no ego.
Name: Shane Fortney
Incoming Year: 1994 - out of Mukilteo
Defining Moment: Injury against BYU
Generally Regarded: In perhaps the most unfortunate occurrence of the Jim Lambright head-coaching era, some bad blood emerged and the embattled Fortney, fending off injury and criticism, transferred to Northern Iowa to finish career. In the 1996 media guide, he was listed by his teammates as the player most likely to surprise people with his performance. It wasn't to be.
Name: Spencer Marona
Incoming Year: 1999
Defining Moment: Playing the entire fourth quarter of the Rose Bowl at defensive end while the Huskies cemented the victory over Purdue
Generally Regarded: One of the most unselfish and hard working Huskies. He defines what it means to be a Washington Husky student athlete. Injuries to both shoulders hampered his career and he was forced to retire from active duty.
BLUE CHIP STARS WHO EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS
Name: Napoleon Kaufman
Incoming Year: 1991 – recruited by everybody and their brother
Defining Moment: Ran 70 yards downfield and laid out a Miami defensive back with a block to usher Richard Thomas into end zone in 1994
Generally Regarded: Statistically the Greatest running back in UW history (and my favorite player)
Name: Lawyer Milloy
Incoming Year: 1993 – Recruited by Miami, Notre Dame, UCLA, USC, Florida State
Defining Moment: Savage hit on goal-line stand that stalled Miami scoring drive, 1994
Generally Regarded: One of, if not THE best Safety in UW history
Name: Curtis Williams
Incoming Year: 1996 - Member of SuperPrep's All Far-West Team
Tragedy: Severe Spinal cord trauma sustained on helmet-to-helmet hit with Stanford's Kerry Carter, 2000.
Generally Regarded: Erstwhile running back, Curtis persisted to ascend the depth charts and became a force as a defensive back. Regarded as a quality safety and a hard hitter.
Derek Johnson can be reached at email@example.com
Recruiting: the inexact science in retrospect
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