Isaiah Stanback makes believer out of the Dawgs

Washington's top high school football player, for the fourth time in four years, chose to stay home and play football for the University of Washington Huskies. That makes Rick Neuheisel three for three in that department.

His first chore came just three weeks after arriving at Washington in January of 1999. He needed to get Paul Arnold to say no to UCLA, Notre Dame, and Michigan and stay home.

In 2000, Neuheisel needed to make sure that Dan Dicks and Zach Tuiasosopo stayed put to become part of what looks to be a very bright future for the Huskies.

Last year he needed to convince Reggie Williams to tell those same Bruins, as well as that he was going to don the Purple and Gold.

This year, he needed to get Garfield High School's Isaiah Stanback to tell the USC Trojans and ASU Sun Devils that he was going to play his home games at the Dawghouse on Montlake Boulevard.

Four for four in that department.

Neuheisel set his sights on just one quarterback this fall when all was said and done, and he was the trigger man for Seattle's Garfield High School. Stanback committed to Washington back in December, which left Neuheisel one less position to worry about.

"I felt good!" Isaiah told about the feeling going through him as his letter-of-intent worked its way through the fax machine at Garfield High last Wednesday. "I felt like I made a good decision. I didn't get that feeling like I didn't ever want to go there."

Isaiah asked for, and received, little fanfare the day he signed with the Dawgs. "I didn't want a big press conference," he said. So he did the next best thing, joing Dave 'Softy' Mahler on KJR for a short radio interview. "Going on the radio was cool," he said. "They just wanted some of the recruits from the U-Dub to call in. I didn't try to make that big of a deal about it. I was excited, but I think I would have been more excited if I hadn't already committed."

Stanback then hooked up with Washington State signee Carl Bonnell on Fox Sports Northwest later that day. There's no question that this matchup was seen by many as a future Apple Cup showdown. The only question is, when will it happen?

"That was fun," Isaiah said of the broadcast with Bill Wixey and Angie Arlati. "The quarterback from over there in Kentwood (Bonnell), he was real cool. We just had fun with it. A couple of quizzes and a contest at the end."

Isaiah was still smiling, even though he lost the one-round throwdown into a waste-can situated on the far end of the studio. "They asked us, 'Who is going to win the Apple Cup?' and stuff like that," Stanback said. "Of course we both said that our schools would win, but he's cool. He's good people."

But back to the future. "Isaiah is without question the best quarterback I saw on tape this year. I don't think that it's even close," was the quote attributed to Neuheisel last Wednesday when he offered up comments on the 21 players that signed letters of intent with Washington.

Is Isaiah up to the lofty praise? "That lets me know that he has confidence in me, so now it's up to me to go out and prove it," he said.

Stanback also hopes that he can raise the level of his game to achieve the expectations put on him by not only the coaches, but also from the fans that know what he's capable of doing. "I feed off the fans, so I hope they are there for me and for the rest of the team," he said. "I'm going to go out there and play as hard as I can and learn as much as I can."

Right now, Stanback is playing hoops, doing his part to make sure the Garfield Bulldogs give their best in an attempt to win state. But whether he's playing with a football, basketball, baseball or just walking down the street, there's one thing Stanback has on him at all times.

A grin. A BIG one.

"Shoot, I'm lucky," Isaiah acknowledges. "Not too many people get scholarships, so I'm one of the lucky few. A small percentage get to go to the school they want to for free and at the same time play a sport they like to play."

Hopefully he'll also show that Rick Neuheisel made the right decision. Top Stories