2006 Class Analysis

Now that Signing Day is over, we took some time to jot down our thoughts, position-by-position, and included a letter grade. As you will figure out by reading, Scott Eklund and Chris Fetters have some differing ideas as to how this class will be seen by Husky historians down the road. What do you think?

Quarterbacks

Scott Eklund: A+. Getting Jake Locker was the single-most important commitment in the class. He is a leader, a winner and he has all of the athleticism necessary to be one of the greatest to ever play the position for Washington and that is saying a lot. You couldn't ask for a better player or a better person.

Chris Fetters: A. I would have given Jake Locker an A+, but for two reasons – first, I've been told that there's no such thing as an A+, and secondly, as long as baseball is going to be a part of the Jake Locker conversation, I can't give him a perfect mark. But to me, that's like looking for a zit on an elephant's backside. What's the point? Everything about Locker screams out ‘WINNER', and he's going to take that to Montlake and immediately make those around him better players.

Running Backs

SE: C-. I wanted this to be an incomplete, but Fetters wouldn't let me give that listing. Losing James Montgomery to Cal hurt badly, but the Huskies didn't need him this year anyway. The problem? After this year there will only be two scholarship running backs on the roster. Enter Leilyon Myers who is excellent with the ball in his hands. He was recruited as an athlete, but will get his first look here. Paul Homer makes this position respectable because of his abilities as a fullback. The coaching staff loves his toughness and he is a good receiver out of the backfield.

CF: D. How could it be any other way? Because the Huskies failed to land any of their original A-list running back prospects (James Montgomery, Rodney Glass, Stafon Johnson), going to plan B Leilyon Myers (who actually is a very good athlete, but was never scheduled to be a running back at Washington, at least not initially) isn't an answer – at least on paper. The only way this position doesn't get a failing grade is Paul Homer. He's a fullback in the Pat Conniff-mold; tough, football-savvy and hungry. He'll be a fixture at FB for the next four years after Mark Palaita graduates.

Wide Receivers

SE: B+. Offensive coordinator Tim Lappano was ecstatic to get Marcel Reece, D'Andre Goodwin and Matt Mosley. Reece will probably start right away and he will eventually be one of the biggest wideouts ever to play the position at Washington. He has been compared to Reggie Williams but with better speed. I'm not ready to go that far, but his highlight tape is amazing. Mosely is tough, has good hands and body control and both Lappano and Tyrone Willingham both said he is very, very talented. Goodwin needs to add bulk, but he's got very good speed and he is super-quick in and out of his breaks.

CF: B+. After Locker, the Washington coaches may have raved about Marcel Reese more than anyone. Safeties just bounce off of him, and his size allows him to be used in a myriad of ways. I could see him playing x, y, z, h-back, tight end – the possibilities are limitless. He fills the gap left by Craig Chambers without any dropoff, and might actually improve that position. D'Andre Goodwin is a project, but with the number of wideouts on roster UW was willing to take a chance. Put D'Andre in the weight room for two years, lock the door, lose the key and see what happens. His speed is the compelling factor. Mosley could be a better Anthony Russo, a guy in the mold of a Pat Reddick that can be counted on in third-down situations from the slot. He's a smart player that knows how to get open and has reliable hands. In this day and age of 6-foot-5 receivers, Mosley is a throwback that brings toughness and a bit of swagger to the field. I like the balance of need, ability and variety here. Kudos to ‘Yarbs'.

Tight End

SE: Incomplete. Willingham mentioned at his press conference that the numbers of talented tight ends wasn't up to snuff this year and so they determined not to recruit one after the top ones (Na Derris Ward and Konrad Reuland) were gone.

CF: Incomplete. The Huskies put the white flag up early when it came to TE, looking briefly at Garry Graffort before deciding that there just were no prospects that fit what they were looking at after Konrad Reuland and Na Derris Ward were spoken for. Perhaps a nod to 2007, when Lake Washington's Chris Izbicki is right across the pond? We'll see.

Offensive Line

SE: B- (Brandon Jefferson making it in will raise this to a solid B). Losing Steve Schilling hurts, but he wasn't detrimental to the class. Cody Pope's defection to Tennessee hurt a little because he would have been able to fit right in at tackle. As it is, the Huskies did a little above-average when they got Cody Habben, Ryan Tolar, Matt Sedillo, Sir Aaron Mason to sign their letters of intent. Habben and Mason will both be tackles and Tolar and Sedillo will probably be interior guys, but it sounds like the staff has faith that all four could play almost anywhere along the line if need be. Getting Habben, a player who has won his entire career, is very helpful and he is talented as a pass-blocker, something that a lot of high school linemen struggle with. Mason has NFL ability, he just needs to add some weight to get where he needs to be. Look for Sedillo and Tolar to redshirt and be ready to go as third-year sophomores.

CF: C-: I'm assuming Brandon Jefferson's academic situation isn't resolved. If it is, move it up to a solid C+, because he could add some instant impact and is good for a full half-grade improvement. As it stands, this is a class that's going to be known more for losing Steve Schilling than getting regional studs Cody Habben and Ryan Tolar. It's unfortunate that history is going to look at it that way, but when you lose a national top-20 prospect out of your own backyard, that's what gets remembered. Habben and Tolar will be very solid, productive Huskies. Unfortunately there are question marks about the other offensive linemen taken. Sir Aaron Mason – is he going to get to a weight where he can bang around with Pac-10 defensive linemen effectively? It's a legitimate question. And Matt Sedillo, he's already admitted that he's thrilled that someone took a chance on him and that he knows he has to work his way up. Trust me, nothing would put a grin on my face faster than to see a guy like Sedillo go from being lightly recruited ala Khalif Barnes to an All-Pac-10 performer. It's just doesn't look all nice and shiny on paper. A world of potential with some tough kids in the mix…now they are going to have to show they've got what it takes to take the program on their backs (like the last OL class said they were going to do).

Defensive Line

SE: B. Anthony Atkins will be learning a new position when he makes the transition to defensive end, but he is a flat-out football player. He likes to get after the quarterback and he plays with an attitude. Cameron Elisara, De'Shon Matthews and Derek Kosub are all interior guys. Elisara will be the pass-rushing tackle while Matthews and Kosub will be run-stuffers. Matthews may end up at Husky end if he can't add the weight needed. Regardless he is a relentless player.

CF: B. Just like with the receivers class, I love the balance, quality and potential of this group of players. Cameron Elisara is the type of in-state bruiser in the mold of a Mac Tuiaea that could be a four-year starter. He's tough, smart and doesn't stop. Add a couple of regional studs in De'Shon Matthews and Derek Kosub and you are building some decent depth for DL coach Randy Hart. Matthews could go inside or out like Larry Tripplett or Manase Hopoi, and Kosub – while being lightly recruited by the BCS schools – certainly has a high school pedigree worth a second-look. The only lineman in Nevada to earn all-state honors on both sides of the ball? Maybe his ceiling is a little lower than Matthews or Elisara, but time will tell. Add Anthony Atkins, a linebacker that could very well put his hand down for the Huskies, and you have another rusher in the Kai Ellis mold that can come from anywhere off the edge, but could also be moved back to MIK if it's required. Lots of options here.

Linebackers

SE: C+. Missing out on Travis Goethel really hurt because he is very talented and hard-nosed. Donald Butler earned an offer from the Dawgs after his performance during camp last summer and he committed very early in the process. Some feel he would have gotten a ton of offers if he hadn't shut it down so quickly. Matt Houston is a player the coaches fell in love with late in the process and his attitude really is what sets him apart. He likes to hit and he has a bit of a nasty streak out on the field.

CF: B-. This group is a case where Washington needed to replace two graduating seniors – Joe Lobendahn and Evan Benjamin – and I believe that the two prospects they did pick up could be better by the time they graduate. But again, there's this pesky deal about this group possibly being known more for the player they didn't get (Travis Goethel). No matter. Matt Houston has already brought comparisons to Benjamin, a steady influence on defense. His tape shows him to be a fierce hitter with a motor that doesn't stop. Donald Butler immediately brings more size to the MIK position than Lobendahn did. As much of a warrior as Lobendahn was, it's going to be nicer sight seeing a 6-foot-2 guy taking on ballcarriers and roaming the middle than someone that was 5-foot-11 on a good day.

Defensive Backs

SE: B: Once again, the Huskies had a player that decided to go elsewhere. Juco CB Coye Francies committed to Washington early on, but then did an about-face the night before he signed his letter of intent in December deciding to attend Oregon State instead. Getting Jason Wells was a minor-coup for the Dawgs since he was recruitable but other schools didn't know that. He can cover like a corner and hits like a safety. S Ashlee Palmer is a stud. He has NFL ability and a great attitude. The fact that he has three to play three bodes well for the secondary in the future. Jake Merrill is an attitude guy who has good speed and room to grow. He is also very smart and a leader.

CF: C: Don't want to spoil the party here, but who is going to play corner? Jordan Murchison is the only prospect actually tagged for CB from the get-go, and he did not get a ton of playing time this past season for the Rams. No questioning his intangibles (6-foot, 185 pounds 4.4 40), but the lack of genuine gametime might be an issue considering he's been brought in to compete for playing time from the get-go. And losing Coye Francies just might be the biggest loss defensively, definitely bigger than missing out on Goethel. Getting guys like Jake Merrill, Jason Wells and especially Ashlee Palmer for the secondary certainly ups the quota of athletes, but where to they play? Does bringing Palmer in mean Dashon Goldson moves to corner? Does Darin Harris make a switch? Either way, the Huskies only addressed half of their need here, in my opinion – unless either Palmer or Wells can play lock-down. If they can, this group would go up a half-grade easy.

Specialists

SE: A: Danny Morovick was brought in to do one job and one job only – long-snap. He has an accurate snap and it gets to where it's going very fast. The coaches have said they haven't seen someone long-snap like this guy.

CF: C+: The Washington coaches deserve a lot of credit for biting the bullet and assigning a scholarship to a long-snapper. It's a position that could easily lose football games if not properly attended to. From all looks, Danny Morovick fits the bill and will be a four-way stalwart. I'd give this area an A if that was it, but what about a return specialist? This is where losing Francies to the Beavers really stings. Washington was 7th in kickoff return average (20.4 ypr) and dead last in punt return average (6.1 ypr) in 2005. That's just unacceptable, and Willingham would be the first to admit that. Francies was an instant return guy, just add water. Now, they are talking about using Goodwin's speed in their return game. That's fine, but that's nothing but a band-aid, a hail-mary in the hopes that things work out. They had the answer in Francies and let him slip away.
Overall grade:

SE: B-. All put together this class was decent class for the Huskies. They got some players that can help immediately (Reece, Palmer, Atkins and Murchison), eight players to play along the lines (four offense and four defense) and the leader of the program for the forseeable future (Locker). Had they kept Montgomery in-the-fold and been able to convince Schilling and Taylor Mays to stay at home this class would be one of the best in the country, not bad considering the won-loss record the past two years. This class is a foundation for the future of the program and I think it was a good effort by the staff.

CF: C. Everything aside, Washington did a very good addressing basic need and balance. Nine linemen, nine skill players, two linebackers and one quarterback – that's balance. Picking up Jake Locker and some in-state line studs early was absolutely crucial to any success the Huskies might have in football's ‘second season'. But big losses in Schilling, Glass, Goethel and Francies will haunt this program for the next year. Three areas of need – running back, tight end and cornerback – came up basically empty. But Willingham got tough-minded, football-savvy players with a little bit of a mean streak in ‘em. That's what he was looking for. We'll see if they can go beyond their middle-of-the-road projection in the Pac-10 recruiting rankings to excel on the football field. Only Willingham and the UW coaches will know for sure.


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