Junior Day capitalizes on hoops momentum

While the Arizona-Washington basketball game was the biggest thing going on Montlake Saturday, there was something going on behind the scenes that might prove out to be just as big down the road. The Washington footall program hosted a junior day to coincide with the Huskies' 93-85 win over the Wildcats in the biggest conference hoops game of the year.

After speaking with a few of the prospects that were on hand to hear UW's football pitch and catch an exciting brand of college hoops, the early returns are nothing short of enthusiastic. "It went good. We watched the basketball game and took a tour of the school," Nick Bassett told Dawgman.com. The 6-4, 270-pound Bassett traveled to Seattle with Gig Harbor (Wash.) teammate Micah Hannam to Seattle after being invited to attend junior day. "It was like an introduction to the school. They gave us a little speech."

"They had a couple of guys there," Hannam said when asked about the football 'presentation'. "The Head Coach (Tyrone Willingham) went up and gave a speech about what football is like at Washington and what the program is all about. And they brought up an old running back who played for the (Denver) Broncos (Greg Lewis). He went up and talked about his experiences. Stuff like that."

But for all that attended, the excitement of the basketball game trumped all. "It was the basketball game," Bellevue athlete Keith Rosenberg said when asked for a highlight. "It was pretty exciting." Rosenberg attended both the Arizona and Arizona State basketball games for the full experience.

And this junior day wasn't just for west-siders either. Guys like Cameron Elisara from Spokane (Wash.) Ferris and Jeff Kintner from Wenatchee made the trip. And for Pasco offensive lineman Ryan Tolar, he even came a day early with his mother.

"We showed up Friday, so we were able to go in and talk with the coaches," Tolar told Dawgman.com. "I spoke with Coach (Mike) Denbrock for a while and then Coach (Randy) Hart for a while. We just talked."

Besides the presentation and tour of the campus and facilities, the prospects were also treated to a visit to Husky Stadium. "We got to walk the field a bit, that was nice," said Hannam.

"We went to the stadium and that stadium is huge," added Tolar.

When talking to the different prospects it also became clear that the coaches were just as curious about the prospects as people, and not just as football players. "I was kind of surprised," said Bassett. "They knew a lot about me, more than I thought they would. They were great."

"Before I met him I thought it was going to be all about football," admitted Rosenberg. "But he talked to me about things that no one else even knew. He knew me more than coaches on my coaching staff. He knew more about me and my preparations as a player. He talked about what people have to do to stay focused the whole year and how you have to keep a positive attitude to play college football."

"They seemed just as interested in the kind of person I am," added Ferndale quarterback Jake Locker, who was offered a scholarship by Willingham during his junior day visit. "They consider that just as important as who I am as a player, and that was great to see. I really like that aspect of their coaching staff."

So what did Locker say when Willingham presented the offer to him? "I told him that I really appreciated him considering me. I told him that I enjoyed the campus and the visit. The coaching staff he has put together is pretty amazing."

Confirmed prospects that attended UW Junior Day:
Jake Merrill - Gig Harbor
Gary Cole - Gig Harbor
Nick Bassett - Peninsula (Gig Harbor)
Micah Hannam - Peninsula (Gig Harbor)
Jason Brace - Spanaway Lake
Taylor Mays - O'Dea (Seattle)
Brandon Jones - O'Dea (Seattle)
Jeffrey Solomon - Ingraham (Seattle)
Travis Snider - Jackson (Mill Creek)
Keith Rosenberg - Bellevue
Stephen Englund - Bellevue
Joel White-Frisbee - Inglemoor (Kenmore)
Jordan Rasmussen - Curtis (Tacoma)
Brendon Waiters - Curtis (Tacoma)
Dominique Meredeth - Mount Tahoma (Tacoma)
Alex Linnenkohl - Capital (Olympia)
Mikel Camus - Capital (Olympia)
Hala Ling - Capital (Olympia)
Ryan Tolar - Pasco
Jeff Kintner - Wenatchee
Cameron Elisara - Ferris (Spokane)
Anthony Zackery - Ferris (Spokane)
Skylar Jessen - Mead (Spokane)
Chris Bush - Rogers (Puyallup)
Adam Kravitz - Olympia
Joe Halahuni - Orting
Luke Fowler - R.A. Long (Longview)


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