Sarkisian moves quickly, visits Skyline

SEATTLE - It was a whirlwind day for new Husky head coach Steve Sarkisian. Before the ink was dry on his five-year contract, Sarkisian headed east about 35 minutes to meet up with Skyline head coach Mat Taylor to discuss, among other things, two of the talented skill players on the first-year Spartan head man's roster.

"Each of our kids who have U-Dub offers were real interested in seeing who it was going to be and I think that Gino will give it a look too, but we don't know who the staff is or who is going to be retained," Taylor told Dawgman.com Monday afternoon. "I think it's exciting to bring in somebody young and energetic and that comes from a solid program that obviously recruits well and he's a quarterback guy as well."

Front and center for Sarkisian's recruiting efforts at Skyline will be senior WR Gino Simone, junior QB Jake Heaps and sophomore WR Kasen Williams. All three have standing offers from Washington.

"He seems like a good young guy who's real fired up and he really wants to win some football games there," Simone said.

It has long been rumored that Simone would be open to staying closer to home rather than stay true to his commitment to Washington State, but the talented wideout admitted today that the Huskies have a ways to go before they can get back into things.

"It's just kinda ‘wait and see' on who he hires and that stuff," Simone admitted. "Would I say Washington is out of it? No, I wouldn't, but I would say that they do have quite a ways to go to get up with some of these other schools.

"That's just how it is and having them come out with a new coach that to me is to be expected and I don't think coach Sarkisian would argue with that. I'm sure he knows he's got some work to do there and I think he's going to do a great job."

Heaps is expected to be the top quarterback in the country next year, so he's got time before he needs to make a decision. The gifted signal-caller is a player that schools are already stepping all over themselves for – he's already hauled in 18 offers in writing – and he said Sarkisian is just the coach Washington needed to bring in.

"You know I thought it was great," Heaps said of Monday's press conference. "I thought he said the right things and I think this is a good direction for U-Dub and he's going to bring a lot of fire and passion and he's going to bring a winning mentality and that's half the battle."

Heaps also noted the differences between now departed coach Tyrone Willingham and his successor.

"Sarkisian is a young guy," Heaps said. "He's very passionate and very fiery. Coach Willingham was almost methodical in the way he did things. He had a lot of wisdom in how he wanted to approach things. It was very well thought out, so coach Sarkisian and coach Willingham have two different personalities.

"Coach Willingham is a quiet guy and coach Sarkisian is a loud, boisterous, go get-em type guy."

Coming from USC is only something positive in Heaps' mind as well.

"It's definitely a different culture down there at USC," Heaps said recalling his unofficial visit to see the Trojans practice in the spring. "When coach Sarkisian was talking about practice and how he wanted all of the media to be there, he wanted fans and everyone to come down and watch practice, he wants to make practice the best environment possible and that's what I saw at SC. They live and die off of practice. They are always competing and it's always a competition. It gets pretty heated. Everything's about winning and it was fun to watch the players being competitive all the time."

Heaps' familiarity with a wide-open offense at Skyline might make some wonder if Sarkisian's pro-style attack would be appealing to the two-time state champion who has never lost a high school game he has played in.

"I have a good understanding of what USC's offense is," Heaps said. "I do like that pro style offense and it's definitely going to get you NFL ready. It's a system that I think any quarterback would love to be in.

"I think when I went down there, the best way they described it was, they are on the cutting edge, when you see spread and all these new offenses, they're fantastic and they work wonderfully, but at SC they use their cutting edge style of offense in a pro style offense and very much NFL like. I think that can get every kid excited about that.

"I'm definitely excited about coach Sarkisian and the hire and I think he's going to be able to do a lot of things over there and I just think that with his fire and passion for the game and his will to win and to get his players to believe in that it's going to bring a change to Washington football and it will be fun for the fans to watch that. I'm excited to see where this process will go and to see where the road leads."

Right now the road for Heaps is paved with lots of schools vying to get his attention, but he said that he and his family plan to meet with Sarkisian over the next couple weeks to get to know the new Husky head coach a little better.

For Simone, he'll be taking visits to his three favorite schools – Washington State, Boise State and Oregon State – while also looking to possibly take an official visit to Arizona State and Washington after the first of the year. It's also expected that Williams - the son of two former UW student-athletes - will take his time with the recruiting process and see how this coming season plays out for the Huskies.


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