Had a chance today to talk for a while on the phone with Tom Lemming, a national recruiting analyst for more than 30 years and one of the guys featured in the Bruce Feldman book “Meat Market” a few years ago.
Lemming is now the CBS College Sports Network recruiting expert and the network will have five hours of live coverage on signing day, which will include a couple of announcements by major players.
Lemming also said that one of his guests will be UW coach Steve Sarkisian, whom he said he requested to have on the show because he thinks Washington’s class is among the most noteworthy in the country.
“I think this is the class that’s going to get them really heading back to the top of the conference,” he said. “And it will continue, because they’ve got a great recruiting staff.”
“From top to bottom, it’s a big-time class,” he said, calling it UW’s best since Rick Neuheisel’s tenure. Sarkisian and USC’s Lane Kiffin will each appear, the two Pac-10 coaches on the show, Lemming said. (The show will appear on CBS College Sports, channel 412 on Comcast in the Seattle area, on signing day, next Wednesday, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.).
Asked what he likes about UW’s class, Lemming said: “They’ve just got talent at every single spot, every single position, that’s what really stands out. It’s one of the more well-balanced classes in the country and a very athletic one, too. That’s something that Washington is not used to getting. They haven’t really had a class like this since Neuheisel. But now they’ve got to follow it up with another great class. That’s how you get back to the top, have two or three in a row. But they’ve got the coaches to get it done. They’ve got very good recruiters.”
Asked what makes the UW staff good recruiters he said “their aggressiveness, personality and evaluation skills. Just those three things. You’ve got to be able to evaluate guys in your own area as an assistant and then have the aggressiveness and personality to built the relationsnip with a player and then the stick-to-it-tiveness to stick with it when the other schools come.
“Everybody has something to sell. Why I think the SEC is dominating the country right now is they pay all the money for the great recruiters. Now Washington has real good ones, like USC does. So does Neuheisel. So those would be the three schools to really watch for in the Pac-10 over the next few years.”
Lemming noted that the staff Sarkisian assembled is known for its recruiting ability and that that is especially important right now with the recent legislation that doesn’t allow head coaches to go on the road in May — a critical time for evaluating the upcoming senior class.
“It’s the assistants doing all the legwork now,” he said. “Washington’s got a very good recruiting staff. It looks like they are following the (Don) James method of dominating your own area and then moving into California. That seems to be exactly what they are following and I think that will get them to the top of the conference in the next few years.”
Here are a few other notes from what Lemming said today:
— He said dominating the state will be particularly critical next year, when he said the in-state talent will be much better overall than it was this year. “Next year, there will be 3-4-5 Jake Heaps-type players,” he said, meaning players who could eventually be considered as top 100 or so national recruits. Among those, he said, are Skyline WR Kasen Williams, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Gig Harbor, OL Danny Shelton of Auburn, QB Tana Pritchard of Clover Park (younger brother of Tavita Pritchard), TE Charlie Hopkins of Gonzaga Prep, DT Cornelius Edison of Curtis, and RB Bishop Sankey of Gonzaga Prep (who has already committed to Washington State). “It’ll be a big, big year (in the state of Washington),” he said. “Everyone will be up there (recruiting) so it will be up to Washington to get the majority of them.”
— Lemming said he thinks Erik Kohler is the closest of being ready to play immediately of the six OLs the Huskies are expected to sign, though he said ideally even Kohler would redshirt. He said he ranks Kohler as the best OL in the state of California this year and that “he might be the most experienced (of the OLs UW will sign) and he could come in and play. He played in a high-powered offense and he has experience as a run and pass blocker. He’d be the first choice to play right away.” He said he could envision Kohler moving to guard eventually in part because he thinks his size might make him more suited for that spot.