2007 Recruiting grades: Offense

With the 2007 singing day here and gone in a flash, it's time to quickly evaluate how the Washington Huskies addressed need and talent. Scott Eklund and Chris Fetters took a look at each group and assigned a letter grade to each. Today we'll look at the offensive side of the ball, and tomorrow we'll attack the defense.

Eklund: With the loss of Johnny DuRocher to a brain tumor, the Huskies were in the market to add depth behind returning starter Carl Bonnell and freshman phenom Jake Locker and the man they targeted shortly after camp this June was Redlands East Valley's Ronnie Fouch. All Fouch did his senior season was put his injured team on his back and carry them to the state playoffs. He's tough, a great leader and he'll be on campus this spring after graduating early. That extra spring will help him down the line once he gets his chance to start.

Grade: B+

Fetters: It was my feeling all along that, when Johnny DuRocher went in for brain surgery, the Huskies needed to go for two quarterbacks. Perhaps it was too late to really go back to their top targets - Kellen Kiilsgaard, Chasen Stangel and Clint Brewster - after getting their No. 1 man in Ronnie Fouch, and they may not have been receptive to the idea of having to compete with Fouch in their own class. That's where the greyshirt idea with Shane Horton was interesting, but ultimately fruitless. With Chandler Clemons expected to walk-on this spring, the Huskies may have finally caught a break with some good timing for a change. They happened to be in the right place and the right time. With Clemons end up being the right guy? One thing is for sure - the price is right.

Grade: B
Running Back:
Eklund: Heading into the spring last year, the Huskies knew they were going to need to add some depth to this unit and they did that and more with this class. Inking Brandon Johnson, Willie Griffin, Curtis Shaw, Brandon Yakaboski and Nate Williams was huge for the program. Johnson and Shaw are two of the best backs signed by the Huskies in a decade and Williams is a versatile and productive athlete who could play several positions, but he'll get his start in the backfield. Griffin and Yakaboski just move the chains and are workhorses. I expect at least two of these backs to see time this fall.

Grade: A-

Fetters: I love what the Husky coaches did with this group. Unlike the seven receiver catastophe during Rick Neuheisel's tenure, five running backs is the perfect number here. Why? Because of the versatility and also because of the rigors of the position. Depending on whether or not Michael Houston gets past his legal issues, Washington will have two scholarshipped RB's coming out of spring. And you want to know why Trent Miles has no hair? He needed bodies, and Willingham delivered. UW got three of the top-10 RB's in the state of California, and then they supplimented that list with the top two ballcarriers in the state of Washington. That's the formula for all great UW running back classes. For every Hugh McElhenny, Napoleon Kaufman or Rashaan Shehee, there's always going to be a Joe Steele, Greg Lewis or Corey Dillon. Frankly I don't think they could have done any better.

Grade: A
Wide Receiver:
Eklund: Once Eric Yarber left, the Huskies had to work hard to keep Anthony Boyles in the fold and they did just that. Boyles is one of the best wideouts ever signed by Washington. He's not as big as Reggie Williams was when he arrived on campus, but he might even be hungrier. On thing that set Williams apart from other players just as talented was his incredible work-ethic. Boyles has that same work ethic and wants to go pro early…he'll arrive on campus ready to go. Devin Aguilar is athletic and a bit underrated. He's also a winner and the confidence he will bring to the unit will be felt immediately. Willingham loves Alvin Logan's toughness and the young man from Colorado is a player that could end up being 6-3, 215 pounds and the big, bruising receiver the Huskies will lose once Marcel Reece graduates.

Grade: A- (would have been an A had they not missed out on Drew Davis)

Fetters: I'll give the coaches credit for actually getting receivers in this group, as opposed to just athletes. In the past, it seems like Washington has been content on getting athletes (Anthony Russo, Sonny Shackelford) and trying to mold them into receivers. In my opinion, that has ended up with mixed results. Anthony Boyles is the best WR the Huskies have recruited since Reggie Williams, and it's no contest. Devin Aguilar just might end up being second-best, but time will tell. He comes in with a truckload of talent, but will he be happy playing second fiddle to Boyles? He also has basketball aspirations, but it's unclear as to whether or not UW hoops coach Lorenzo Romar has even see him play before. Alvin Logan appears to be one of those athletes that could play on either side of the ball, and Willingham's comments about his toughness on defense made it sound like he was foreshadowing a move to safety. But that just could be me reading too much into it. Either way, it seemed like an interesting observation at best for a player that's supposed to be starting out on offense. The bottom line? Washington needed playmakers at this position and they got them, and they also get credit for being able to maintain Boyles' commitment when other schools were losing prospects left and right to other programs.

Grade: A-
Tight End:
Eklund: The Huskies targeted two local kids early on in the process and ended up with the better of the two when Lake Washington's Chris Izbicki committed shortly after spring practice was over. Izbicki is a hard-working, athletic player that bleeds purple and gold. He's an excellent blocker and the expectation is he will definitely see time this fall. The Huskies could have used another tight end in this class, but there are several top guys on the west coast that will sign with the 2008 class so they'll be looking far and wide for at least one more next year.

Grade: B+

Fetters: With a target like Chris Izbicki just waiting in their back yard, his recruitment was easy pickings. But they wanted David Paulson too, and didn't get him. They made a late run at Dan Knapp, who ended up at Arizona State. So while it's clear they weren't pulling their hair out trying to find another tight end, it's also clear that they would have definitely picked another one up if the right one had been available. Perhaps a move is in the offing for a player like Johnie Kirton? Perhaps Walt Winter is being moved back to defensive end? Either way, it sure looks like the coaches would have loved another TE to compete for playing time along with Izbicki - because he could certainly earn time based on the inconsistent play of last year's tight ends. Mike Gottlieb came on near the end, but the Huskies are going to need a lot more production out of the position.

Grade: B
Offensive Line:
Eklund: Skyler Fancher may end up being the best player among the "Big Uglies" before his career is over. He finishes his blocks well and he's very athletic for a big man. Mark Armelin is also very athletic and he projects inside at guard. He'll be able to redshirt and work for a couple years before he sees the field and be a solid player. Scott Shugert from Oregon got an offer shortly after he attended camp in June and committed in August on an unofficial visit. Shugert is a very accomplished wrestler and he's a player the Huskies liked a lot. He's still pretty raw, but he's got the fire and work ethic to be a very good one in a few years.

Grade: C+ (because Huskies missed out on some of their top OL targets)

Fetters: By the time the three line commits show up in the fall of 2007, Washington will have 16 total offensive linemen - including walk-ons. Sounds like a lot, but it's not. Ideally you'd like to get 4-5 per class, just based on expected attrition alone. No question the three OL Washington got - Scott Shugert, Mark Armelin and Skyler Fancher - are all very capable, very talented prospects. Just look at the late run USC made at Fancher for proof of that. All look like they could end up being 3-4 year starters, as long as everything works in their favor. But there just needs to be more. And I don't think the coaches would argue it. But here's the silver lining; they could have taken in-state players they evaluated as fall-back prospects - Kevin Freitag, Steven Ayers, Mike Magee, Emilio Sulpizio, Ben Brown, Matt Cleveland, Kevin Davis and others fit into this category. But they never wavered from their main targets, even when guys like Po'u Palelei and Taylor Dever went elsewhere. They tripped out eight prospects they evaluated as offensive linemen and only got three. Too many top guys got away, and that's never a good sign. This class gets an average mark due to numbers only, not the talent, but another silver lining exists; the in-state line talent for 2008 is so strong and deep that OL coach Mike Denbrock shouldn't have to look outside state lines to beef up on the kind of linemen he's been looking for since he got here.

Grade: C

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