DFI's final Northwest recruiting rankings
2) Oregon State
3) Washington State
4) University of Nike
6) Aloha Knights
The National Scene
SEC Commissioner, Paul Taglibue, came down hard on Alabama for salary cap violations. The Tide avoided the death penalty by making a claim of diminished capacity, claiming that only a person with no ability to distinguish right from wrong would pay 100 grand for a defensive tackle.
In what has become the biggest SEC scandal since cash started flying out of Fed-Ex letters sent to Kentucky basketball recruits, the Tide received a two-year bowl ban, severe scholarship restrictions, and the disassociation of several boosters.
In other recruiting news, dad gummit if Bobby Bowden didn't land all everything Lorenzo Booker just minutes before the Ventura Sensation was about to sign with Notre Dame. Booker followed his heart to Tallahassee, where he will hope to help continue the impressive winning tradition at FSU.
Texas signed 100 of the Top 100 players to easily win the national recruiting title. Unimpressed Oklahoma fans have asked to see the trophy. The usual suspects dominated the recruiting rankings, and will continue to dominate the Top 20 as well. Mack Brown was beaming on signing day, and then asked for volunteers to coach the new Horns, so they might have a shot at a conference title.
Miami profited nicely from Florida's puzzling coaching choice, setting up battles with FSU for state domination. UF denied rumors that Spurrior's jump to the NFL was hastened by the appearance of Miami on the schedule.
Race Bannon, from an undisclosed safe house
Rick Neuheisel put together the Pac-10's consensus third place class, and a class that averaged 15th nationally, in his third full recruiting season. Some Husky fans, spoiled by last year's 5th ranked class, grumbled a bit, but veteran observers consider this class to be among the best ever coming into the school. It is a balanced class, with great speed, and an offensive line to die for. The class stands head and shoulders above others in the area, and puts the lie to claims that sour grapes are being smashed in the vineyards of Huskyville.
In a break from tradition, we have actually seen film of this class, so we can pretend that we know what we're talking about.
Donnie Mateaki looked every bit the imposing pass rusher he is advertised to be. Fellow Islander, Brandon Ala is the bookend. Speed and power and an attitude to search and destroy bode well for these young men's future. Nathan Rhodes is one of the highest rated linemen ever to commit to Washington, and is a real coup for this class. He'll be joined by Stanley Daniels, Clayton Walker, and Robin Kezirian to form one of the top rated O line classes in the land. And Francisco Tipoti has made his long awaited arrival on the Montlake campus, giving the Huskies a ready to go Goliath tackle this year. The Huskies should be able to red shirt all the linemen in this class, a welcome development, and a sign of how this staff has restocked the cupboard in their first years here. Scott White proved to be a terror on the field and on the recruiting trail.
The film on the linemen showed more pancakes than at a Kiwanis Club breakfast. These youngsters have a hearty appetite, as often times they had two or three flapjacks on a single play.
Local Boys Make Good
The Huskies took 8 from the state, and that included 5 from Seattle schools. Dan Milsten, Jordan Reffett, Jason Benn are among the names that aren't well known now, but will be when they develop. These are kids who were born to be Huskies, and that always shows up on the field. Matthew Fountaine is another legacy recruit that we welcome to the team.
Shelton Sampson, the Clover Park burner, showed great moves and speed, and could see time as a punt returner. An interesting battle may occur as to where Shelton ends up playing, as he could help at many positions. Nate Robinson defined the term water bug on his punt returns. He has that God given ability to stop and change direction and be back to full speed in a blink of any eye. He may have been the most impressive one on film.
Don't fret about Kenny James' 40 time, he is plain a simple, a running back. Massive thighs, eagle vision, and a feel for the game allow him to run over, around, and through anyone in his way. Think of a cross between Greg Lewis and Cory Dillon, neither of whom were known for blazing speed, but both were 1,000-yard rushers. Kenny is willing to work hard to be a Husky, and could be among the few to see early playing time.
Isaiah Stanback, from Seattle's legendary Garfield High, is our pick as the superstar of the class. While many compare him to Donavon McNabb, we dare to make the cross racial comparison that is much more accurate, he is the second coming of John Elway. He has the rare ability to scramble one way, make the reverse turn, and throw it 60 yards on a rope across his body. And Isaiah was smart enough to choose Washington instead of Stanford, so he can enjoy success in college on his way to the NFL. Watch for him as a red shirt sophomore to be pushing for playing time.
We didn't mention everyone and mean no slight to those we missed. This is a very good class, and if this is what an "off" year of recruiting for Neuheisel looks like, we are in great shape. It is balanced, fast, and filled with big uglies. And it is recognized by those outside of Seattle, as the cream of the Northwest crop.
Dennis Erickson continued his rebuilding of the Beavers with a solid class that escaped notice in the reports on this years recruiting. He snared the state of Oregon's top recruit, tight end Joe Newton, who everybody wanted, and put together an O line class that rivals Washington's. J C Ronnfeldt and Brandon Lockheart are the big names among the 5 O linemen recruited. Erickson knows you need 4 or 5 a year to build a consistent winner, and that looks exactly like what Dennis is building. He got plenty of fast 'tweener types that will thrive in his defensive scheme.
Canine Intelligence Agents, who are trained to look ahead to the next war, feel that by 2004 at the latest, OSU will be the biggest threat in the Northwest to the Husky hegemony.
Mike Price put together a solid class, highlighted by Carl Bonnell, Cody Boyd and Jermaine Green. For the third year in a row, the Cougs' class is lacking in offensive linemen, a disaster in the making for the Crimson and the Gray.
The class is full of 5 star Jucos and flashy skill players that will keep the scoreboard lit up at Martin Stadium. The Cougars signed a bushel full of Washington preps that should make the Apple Cup interesting as they face the school to which they really wanted to go. Yes, that's a cheap shot.
It is possible that Mike Price has set himself up for a bowl run lasting longer than one year. With their non-conference schedule, they only need 3 to 4 Pac-10 winds to be bowl eligible. The key is the ability to beat Idaho.
UNIVERSITY OF NIKE
As we went to press, we were unable to ascertain the exact location of this newest member of the league. We do know that Head Coach Phil Knight is happy with the class. It's a small class, but filled with quality.
Defensive tackle Chad Somnolent, who had committed to UW 14 times, was finally convinced to sign on the bottom line of Nike U. Chad said he was happy, and very greatful that he had been shown the error of his ways in considering Washington.
Nike U also reeled in one of the top rated twin brother combos, to fill out the class. Tiny Tooner, a 5' 4", 137-pound fullback signed first. Tooner is a sleeper from Hanoi High, who first heard of Nike U from his parents, who work for Nike. Then his twin, Big Tooner, a 6' 7", 340-pound tackle, surprised everyone by joining his brother at Nike U. Great get for the Sweathogs.
By Mallard N. Moore, Eugene
The Ducks landed the big fish in the top rated defender in all of the land, Haloti Ngata, pronounced, "hell we had to get him or we had natta". Mike Bellotti calls him the highest rated recruit ever at UO, which brought on a lawsuit from the Wilhite family. Speaking of families, the recruitment of Haloti is not suitable for description on a family website.
Sure, the so-called experts have this class ranked 8th or 9th in the league for the 2nd straight year, but what do they know? We don't need any players in 2005 or 2006, so who cares? We say we never do well in recruiting, that's our story and we're sticking to it. Nobody develops talent like Mike Bellotti, and just because he had back-to-back 3-5 seasons in league in years of limited talent is nothing to be concerned about.
Ngata will attend UO this fall, and then go on a mission to SE Asia, where he is expected to keep in shape at the Nike Gymnasium, as he fulfills his mission requirements.
And I'd like to address the issue that everyone seems to be dancing around in this issue, the smear campaign by Rick Neuheisel against Mike Bellotti, perhaps the most honorable man I've never met. I wish Coach would take up duck fighter on his offer of an interview, so Husky fans could see for themselves what a great guy Mike is.
I was talking to the UO's compliance officer, Ben Dover, and Mr. Dover assured me that he keeps Bellotti on a short leash when it comes to recruiting, And I don't know where this win at all costs charge comes from, and I think Bill Moos summed it up best, "We don't need their recruiting list. They ought to want ours."
Moos noted Oregon's cumulative win-loss record in recent years is better than Washington's, adding: "As Rick likes to say, scoreboard baby."
While even I am unsure why UW wouldn't want the 8th rated recruiting list, I think what Mr. Moos is saying is, we win so who cares how we do it?
As Coach Bellotti would say, the best recruiting class on the field didn't win.
The Knights were shut out of this years recruiting, after narrowly missing on Jarrad Page.
FROM THE BUNKER
Duck fighter, from an undisclosed location
The inevitable has happened in the Northwest, as Husky coach Rick Neuheisel, fed up with years of underhanded smears by reactionary elements, declared war on the outlaw Duck Regime. Citing multiple reports of violations of the neutral zone, Husky troops have massed along the Columbia, as a show of resolve against the imperialist designs of the Ducks.
The Husky Nation has rallied around their leader, fully supporting his call to arms, as we prepare to march on Autzen by November and trample the Mallard vineyard where the grapes of wrath are consumed.
(Editor's note: Good luck, Mr. Phelps, and as always, if you or your team are captured or killed, the company will disavow all knowledge of you.)
This bold attack is fraught with danger, as the Husky coach is fully aware that when the league investigates, UW will get the same look. It is evidence of the seriousness of his beliefs that he would encourage this close look at the recruiting practices of the Pac 10. While Rick isn't alone in this, he will be the lightning rod for bitter Duck fans if their house of cards collapses under the weight of increased scrutiny.
However, fairness is the motto of this magazine, so we will have no rush to judgment here. We have no problem waiting for the results of the league's investigation, and trust that Phil Knight won't be sharing a deserted island with Ken Lay anytime soon. Duck fans attempt to frame this issue on a very narrow basis of poaching recruits, when the issue is much broader, and encompasses many issues. Let the league decide.
In the meantime, the call has gone out to prepare for all out war, and the first step is to waltz into newly remodeled Autzen Stadium and kick tail feather all over the field. It would appear that Husky coaches and players will be on even footing with the Ducks this time in terms of frothing hatred and desire to win.
And brave Husky fans are called upon to make the supreme sacrifice and attend the game in person and claim that seat that is rightfully yours!** Be brave fellow Dawgs, and support your team in its hour of need. Wear your rain slicker, bring along the pooper-scooper, pack the disinfectant, and enjoy watching the Duck fans file out after the third quarter.
On to victory, and thanks to all our readers. – df
** - History shows that on occasion the seat you bought at Autzen isn't available and the ushers will be of no help. Not even the finest cheese in Wisconsin will get you out of this mess, should it occur.
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