Recruiting heats up in Seattle

Everyone knows that recruiting is the lifeblood of any college football program. You have to restock the talent on the shelves to ensure that you can keep up with the Jones'. Washington got off to a very late start this year because they had no coach. Well, now coach Willingham is in place and the verbals are starting to roll.

The first one came in the form of a former Pac-10 player that happens to play a position that was a big problem last year for Washington. Johnny DuRocher, a 6-4 220-pound quarterback originally from Bethel High School, left Oregon last year. He went to Pierce Community College and earned enough credits to transfer to Washington. When Tyrone Willingham offered him a scholarship, Durocher pounced, turning down overtures from Utah and Montana.

There were three verbal commitments before Gilbertson had left, and those look to be in good shape. Kicker Ryan Perkins will most likely reaffirm his verbal on his visit, as JC cornerback Keno Walter-White did last weekend. White is a 6-1 tall corner with good speed. James Paulk, the four-star offensive lineman from College of the Canyons, still has Washington on his list. Coach Chris Tormey did a great job of keeping him interested in the Dawgs after the staff was let go. Paulk will probably take a couple of visits but at last word, Washington was still right there.

Over the past weekend, Washington received a soft verbal commit from Bakersfield receiver Brandon Smith, and a firm verbal commitment from athlete Chris Stevens. Then Tyrone Davis from Olympia pulled the trigger yesterday.

That makes seven commitments, and we're expecting about seven to eight more to come in the next two weeks. Here is a position by position breakdown of where the needs are.

QB: 1 commit - with all three scholarship quarterbacks returning, it normally means that there isn't a need. However none of the three guys in the Husky program have proven that they can lead the offense. With a new system comes opportunity. DuRocher is in the fold and after seeing him work out with Brock Huard, it's safe to say that he looks the part of a Pac-10 quarterback. Huard feels that he is better than the three incumbents and will move up the depth chart quickly. It'll be interesting to see if Willingham takes another one, but odds are that he won't.

RB – need 1 - With Kenny James back as the between the tackles guy, Shelton Sampson back as the corner speed guy, and Rankin back as the guy that is still looking for his niche, there doesn't appear to be a lot of room here, either. However, when the top back on the west coast shows interest, you listen. Enter Jonathan Stewart from Timberline High School. If that kid wants to come play for the Huskies, Willingham will open the door for him and help him unpack into his dorm room. Stewart would be a bona fide impact running back, not a project, and would make an early impact. He is nearly 230 pounds of quickness and strength, a very difficult kid to get on the ground. Our guess is that Stewart will stay home and pick the Dawgs over Oregon and WSU. Another intriguing possibility is Bellevue's J.R. Hasty. If J.R. wants to stay home, he has a full ride waiting for him from Willingham. He reminds me a little bit of Richard Thomas when RT was at Kentwood with that low center of gravity and great balance between the tackles. I'm not sure Hasty could bulk up like Thomas did though, so he may be more of a tailback. If he wants to come, you get him into the program.

FB – need 0 - With so many needs and so little time, fullback will need to be neglected in recruiting this year, unless one falls into their lap. James Sims and Luke Kravitz will need to be the two guys that line up with their hands on the ground behind the quarterback this year.

WR – 1 commit - When Charles Frederick and Corey Williams went down, it became apparent that the Huskies were razor thin at receiver. Until Craig Chambers stepped up, this was a glaring weakness. Washington appears to have addressed that, if they can firm up Brandon Smith's verbal after he takes visits to ASU, UA, and California. The other guy that is interesting to watch is David Gettis, a 6-3 big play receiver from Los Angeles. Washington is making a late charge for the speedy wide out that was named to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. He is looking at Cal, USC, and Baylor hard for both football and track. USC and Cal have not offered a scholarship yet, so perhaps Willingham can convince him that his offer to come play for the Huskies is a terrific option.

My guess is that Gettis shocks the world and becomes a Baylor Bear. But it doesn't appear that he'll qualify academically, so look for him again in two years.

TE – need 1 - Washington needs tight ends, but they won't probably address it this year. Expect walk-on Mike Gottlieb to fill a big role and possibly win the job. He was recently awarded a scholarship. That would allow the staff to move Joe Toledo to offensive tackle. Injuries have gutted this position and it probably won't be a real weapon for 2005 until they can restock the position. Chehalis (Wash.) W.F. West TE Tim Williams recently visited UW, but expect the Huskies to continue their search for a viable option here.

OL – 1 commit - It's a good thing Gilby stocked up on these last year, bringing in six. Four more would be nice this year, but highly unlikely. James Paulk committed early on but may take other visits now. Two Hawaiians, Tyler Williams and Ikaika Aken-Moleta are scheduled to visit at the end of the month, but Williams' recent commitment to Utah means he's most likely off the board. Both are over 285 pounds. Ben Ossai , a 305-pound giant from Bakersfield will also trip the Huskies this month. Washington really needs all four of these kids, to be honest. They'll be satisfied with two though, which is probably more realistic as to how they'll do. Also, expect Willingham to make a late run at some JC talent.

DL – 1 commit - this is one area where the Huskies are stocked pretty well with young talent, but they would like to add one more to this position. Ismail Abdunafi is a 6-4, 285-pound defensive tackle from Bakersfield College, and when asked to describe his style of play on the football field, it only took one word to get the point across - "terrorizing". This is a guy you'd like to see in Purple and Gold, no doubt. He visits this weekend. An exterior lineman that also might be a good fit for the Huskies is Hawaiian product Daniel Te'o Nesheim, a 245 pounder from Hawaii Prep academy. He visits later this month. Olympia's Tyrone Davis, a 240 pound defensive end, is in the fold.

LB – 1 commit - EJ Savannah is the guy they need to get, and he visits this weekend. From Bellevue High School, Savannah is a tackling machine. He may be a tad undersized but he has a motor that never quits. The other guy that will fill this need is current verbal commit Chris Stevens. He has the look of an outside linebacker and has good speed.

S – need 1 - Marlon Woods reportedly has 4.3 speed and the increased interest that Washington has shown him hasn't gone unnoticed. On his visit next weekend, expect Willingham to pull out all stops (legal, of course) to get this kid in the fold. Washington needs speed like this in their secondary. If Woods goes to WSU or Marshall, his other two suitors, expect the Huskies to make a strong push for Dos Pueblos product Kellen Moriarty. Moriarty is a quarterback that is very athletic, so he could be a super versatile signee.

CB – 1 commit - Washington needs at least two, with both Derrick Johnson and Sam Cunningham graduating. They will likely fill one slot with Walter-White, assuming that commit holds. There is a sleeper that could fill the other spot. More on that one later, sorry I can't tell you more. Al Afalala from Kahuku, Hawaii, is a 6-0 corner that may visit Washington this weekend, but a verbal commitment to Oregon State should put a crimp in those plans.

K – 1 commit - Ryan Perkins will compete with Evan Knudson for the starting placekicking job. There wasn't a need here but Perkins was just too good to leave on the board. When a kicker of his caliber wants to come, you take him.

Projected Class (just for fun): Projected total = 14
QB: Johnny Durocher
TB: Jonathan Stewart, JR Hasty
OL: James Paulk, Ben Ossai
WR: Brandon Smith
DL: Ismail Abdunafi, Tyrone Davis
LB: Chris Stevens, EJ Savannah
S: Kellen Moriarty
CB: Keno Walter-White, plus one
K: Ryan Perkins
Don't forget to check out the "Scout.com Scoreboard" feature on the middle of the front page. It's one-stop shopping for Husky recruiting and will update the following links when news arises throughout the days ahead:
Full UW prospects list, click here
Full UW commit list, click here
Full visit list, click here
Recruiting rankings by team



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