Signing Day News and Notes

Tyrone Willingham sat before the media on Wednesday for a national letter of intent day press conference, sharing his thoughts on his first recruiting season at the University of Washington and giving an overview of the 13 student-athletes who faxed their letters of intent into UW.

The Huskies' 2005 recruiting class includes one offensive lineman, two defensive linemen, two defensive backs, three linebackers, one tight end, one receiver, one quarterback, one tailback and a kicker. Of the list of signees, nine will join Washington straight out of high school while the rest will come via junior college or the transfer route.

Of the 13 to sign, the class includes six players from the state of Washington, five from California and one each from Florida and Hawaii.

"I am excited about this group and the things that we went out to do to supplement our football team in terms of character and athletic ability," said Willingham, donning a black suit and purple and gold tie. "Those are the two things that I think you shoot for - character and athletic ability. Get the people that are a match for your program and the people who can do the things athletically that you need to do.

"I think in the years to come we will see how good this class is, but there is no question that there are some good football players in this group."

Willingham was asked a wide-range of questions centered around the difficulty of his recruiting situation this winter. Any way you look at it, it wasn't an easy job. He joined the program late in the recruiting process without a set of assistant coaches in place and, on top of all that, had little time to assemble a solid class.

"(Having a short amount of time) is a very difficult restraint, because time allows you to establish relationships and so much of recruiting is about relationships," said Willingham. "In some cases, we didn't have the opportunity to establish relationships that were necessary.

"But I do believe that we had a wonderful luxury at our disposal, and that was the University of Washington. I think it is highly thought of, I think people are aware of the success there has been in this program, and we had the ability to get in to the players and their families without having established relationships."

Willingham gave much of the credit for that to the five assistant coaches that were retained after the season to keep the Huskies' in on some top recruits.

"The staff of coaches that were retained, headed by coaches Randy Hart and Chris Tormey, did a great job of maintaining contact with the recruits out there," said Willingham. "So when I got in, we had names and we had people that we could work with. Then it became our ability to showcase to them what our university was about."

Willingham admitted recruiting under these circumstances wasn't easy, but downplayed its part in the end result.

"It was an obstacle, " he said, "but I didn't look at it as something overly difficult."

With a limited number of scholarships available, Willingham said he looked at it as an advantage for a number of reasons. First, because it meant the restraint of time and the incomplete coaching staff wouldn't come into play as much. And secondly, because it meant the team would be returning a large class of upperclassmen from last season.

Having only 13 scholarships to award, Willingham said he attempted to address the positions most in need.

"I think there was some areas in this class that we needed some help on," he said. "I think in some places we felt like we got some clear answers and in some other places we still need some help in. I think one of those places is that we still need a breakaway receiver, somebody who can really just stretch the football field.

"I think Marlin Wood can add some speed, but I'm not sure that we got enough of that yet. We went about it trying to solve some problems and provide some remedies for some situations that needed it."

One area Willingham has taken a lot of heat for in his first two months on the job at Montlake is his inability to fill his coaching staff in a timely manner. Many felt it damaged the program's ability to recruit this winter, especially given the fact that the team did so without an offensive coordinator in place.

Willingham seemed unfazed when asked the question, comfortable with the process he has taken.

"It would be nice, without question, to have an offensive coordinator and all the assistant coaches in place," said the Husky coach. "I don't think anyone can argue that, and certainly I won't. But I also think it's a great thing if you have the ability to make what you believe is a great decision and get the right people in place. If that means taking a little additional time, then I will do that. Having 13 scholarships allowed me to take my time."

Regardless of the lack of a full coaching staff, the Huskies managed to finish strong and fill out their class with a group of guys that fit into their head coach's system.

Here is what Willingham had to say about each of the Huskies' 2005 signees:

Tyrone Davis DE 6-3 225 Olympia, Wash. (Olympia) – when you look at him size-wise, you don't necessarily see a defensive end. What we see is a young man that will grow who has amazing explosiveness. He has shown himself to be energetic and able to make big plays.

Johnny DuRocher QB 6-4 215 Puyallup, Wash. (Bethel/Univ. of Oregon) – John will be coming to us by way of Oregon University. John is a quarterback that was ranked extremely high when he came out as a freshman, and has done nothing to sour my taste of what he has to offer this football team. I think he will offer us a lot of competitiveness right off the bat, and John will be joining us for our spring practices.

Qwenton Freeman CB 6-1 185 Pasadena, Calif. (Muir/Pasadena CC) - Qwenton will give us speed, aggressiveness and toughness. One of the things I look for in every football player, that word toughness is in there. We want guys that are both mentally and physically tough.

Chris Handy CB 5-11 190 Arcadia, Calif. (Arcadia/Nevada/Pasadena CC) - He comes to us from Nevada. He had a big interception in a ball game here and we think will add some toughness to our defensive backfield and some athleticism.

J.R. Hasty TB 5-11 200 Bellevue, Wash. (Bellevue) – I don't think there is much I need to say about J.R. I think his stats kind of speaks for himself. The one thing that jumps out at me, and I'll include E.J. Savannah here, they have had over 50 wins and only two or three losses (in high school). That is a winner., and the kind of person we want in our program.

Darrion Jones LB 6-3 225 Lynwood, Calif. (Lynwood) – Will be a linebacker for us. He's played primarily a defensive end type position in high school, but I like his ability to run and I like his ability to stay on his two feet.

Ben Ossai OL 6-6 290 Bakersfield, Calif. (Stockdale) – Will be an offensive lineman for us. What we hope we found in Ben is a tackle type. For those of you who are familiar with offensive linemen, it usually takes some time to develop the type of skill that you are looking for in a polished offensive lineman. We think Ben will be on that kind of track, where we don't know if Ben will be ready to play for us in his first year I think he will grow and be a good play for us.

Ryan Perkins K/P 6-0 185 Olympia, Wash. (North Thurston) – We expect him to come in and compete for our kicking position from day one.

E.J. Savannah LB 6-2 215 Bellevue, Wash. (Bellevue) – I've already mentioned. Great quality there. He knows how to win, he makes sacrifices to win, and hopefully he will be great talent and leadership.

Chris Stevens RB/LB 6-0 195 Mojave, Calif. (Mojave) – Kind of a surprise. From Mojave, Calif., and that's not a place a lot of people get to. He's a young man that has some speed and some size and he has excellent growth potential. He's listed as a running back/linebacker.

Daniel Te'o-Nesheim DL 6-4 235 Kailua, Hawaii (Hawaii Prep) – Daniel comes to us from Hawaii and he is an extremely explosive young man that I think will grow to be a fine defensive end or defensive tackle for us.

Tim Williams TE 6-6 230 Chehalis, Wash. (W.F. West) – Will be a tight end for us, something that I feel we need to add to our program. You can never get enough big, physical tight ends and I think he has a lot of growth potential.

Marlon Wood WR/DB 5-10 180 Tampa, Fla. (Hillsborough/Pasadena CC) – We primarily looked at Marlin early in our recruiting as a defensive back, but further investigation of his background found that he also has the ability to be an excellent wide receiver for us and that's where we are looking at him. We are excited about his speed and maybe his ability to be a specialist for us in the return game.

News and Notes:
Turner Talks Football: Washington AD Todd Turner spoke with the media to provide an update on the latest happenings regarding the football team. Turner mentioned that two of the main goals are to improve technology in the Graves Annex Building as well as adding to the weight room.

"We anticipate that the project will run somewhere between $6-8 million and after less than a month's worth of working together with some key donors, we are approaching the $3 million mark," said Turner. "I see that as a great sign of our support, our commitment to football and I think it bodes well for our competitiveness in the years to come."

Coming and Going: Asked about any attrition that has taken place since on the football team since the end of the season, Willingham acknowledged that one player has left the team. While refraining from naming that player, it is believed to be sophomore receiver Bobby Withorne.

Assistant Coaches to Be Named Soon: Willingham said that an announcement will "probably be made within a few days or so" regarding the hiring of the rest of the coaching staff. Top Stories