Sark's first class continues to impress

With spring practices just completed, it's becoming more and more apparent that the first signing class of the Steve Sarkisian era at Washington is proving to be much better than its last place ranking in the conference. Of course I have never put much stock in ranking classes simply because there are too many variables to factor in.

With less than one month of actual recruiting, the Huskies announced a class of 18 on the first Wednesday of February, 2009, and shortly thereafter added a 19th in Jordan Wallace, whose brother CJ had also played for UW. On paper it was hardly impressive, with all kids being ranked as 2- and 3-star players - whatever that means.

The class included five junior college players, as it was obvious Washington needed an instant fix in personnel. Of the five, only one - punter Will Mahan - would make any kind of immediate contribution. He quickly became the starter and proved to be an excellent signing.

Three of the other JC's - Daniel Mafoe, Johnny Tivao and Dominique Gaisie - all failed to gain academic admittance to Washington, and the fourth, David Batts, was dismissed shortly upon arriving. At that point it looked like the lowly ranking was justified and there were few in the recruiting industry that gave any credence to Sarkisian's first class.

The real fact is, nobody - not even the recruiting 'experts' - knows for sure how many in a class will even show up, much less be able to predict their collegiate success. Then to mix J.C. and high school kids into the same equation is just as ridiculous as comparing freshmen to seniors.

So in doing the math, UW's 2009 class is really a class of 15 and obviously the group can't really be evaluated until they have completed their careers. Spring football finally gave us a look at 14 of the 15 (Andru Pulu is gone), and if kids like Mahan, Talia Crichton, Semisi Tokolahi, Chris Robinson and Will Shamburger are all 2-star prospects, then maybe we should start signing more like them.

This spring we got our first look at both Robinson and Shamburger, and they both look like players to me. Given time, I think both will end up starters and major contributors to the program. Considering that Mahan, Crichton, James Johnson, Desmont Trufant, and Nate Fellner are already starters, it means that one-third of the class ended up starting their first year in the program, something that is almost unheard of. That is really a high percentage of first-year players to start, and no doubt reflected the dire need of talent in the program. Besides the five starters four others, including Wallace, Tokalahi, Pulu and tight end Dorson Boyce all ended up lettering and making positive contributions.

That's 60 percent of a class who played in their first year - never a great sign. They red-shirted the other six players and it appears that at least 4-5 of those will likely end up in the two-deep this coming season. If 80-90 percent of a signing class ends up playing by their second year then that makes it a productive class at the very least, I don't care what the rankings say.

If you can get this much production out of a class in only their second year and to think that it was completely void of 4 or 5 star players means that somebody was doing a nice job of evaluation.

Other than Pulu, every single one of Sark's first class of high school prospects is contributing and academically on track. That means there has been little attrition.

The Husky coaches learned the harsh reality of JC admissions, in that there is no PE major for kids to transfer credits into and therefore almost impossible to get JC's admitted to the UW. Subsequently, they didn't sign a single JC recruit this go-around and have decided to build their team for the long run through high school kids only.

If the kids from '09 all go the distance, get their degrees, go to bowl games for the rest of their careers and win a championship, then this class will have to be considered the very best of the very worst. It always goes back to recruiting, and winning is the only reflection of your evaluations. This class has a chance to prove that it's not the ratings or ranking of others that count, but how you see kids fitting into your system and onto your team.

It's pretty obvious this class is already better than most everyone thought, and if the class of 2010 is just as productive a championship just might be part of the Huskies' near future. Top Stories