Washington’s coaches have been on the road recruiting this week — the team will return to the practice field tomorrow morning to get a little work in while waiting to hear of its bowl assignment and opponent on Sunday afternoon.
That made it feel like a good time for another post reviewing where the Huskies are on the recruiting trail.
Fans who follow recruiting closely might have been hoping for news of a commitment or two this week with the coaches on the road, but so far, none has come. UW’s last known public commitment arrived in October, so obviously there hasn’t been significant news for a little while.
UW has 17 known commitments for its Class of 2012, so far all from the high school ranks. It’s a class that at the moment is being ranked in the middle of the pack in the Pac-12 and among BCS schools — the class is currently ranked 36th in the nation and fifth in the Pac-12 by Scout.com; 44th in the nation and 7th in the Pac-12 by Rivals.com; and outside the top 50 by 247Sports.com.
That might be cause for concern for UW fans. But recruiting analysts caution that UW’s final ranking and the perception of the class will depend largely on where a number of highly-rated players Washington is pursuing decide to attend. Those include three in-state players all considering UW and considered four- or five-star recruits — OL Josh Garnett of Puyallup, RB KeiVarae Russell of Mariner and OL Zach Banner of Lakes. (Scout.com, by the way, reported today that Banner will take an official visit to UW the weekend of Dec. 9-10, which figures to be a big weekend of visitors for the Huskies.)
Brandon Huffman, the national football recruiting analyst and West Regional recruiting manager for Fox Sports/Scout.com, said UW fans are just going to have to be patient as all three players are likely to still wait a while to decide.
“I think the big thing that UW fans need to relax on is that when you are recruiting at a higher level you are going to have to wait the process out a lot more,” he said. “When you are not recruiting at as high a level you will get those early commits because those guys want to jump on board before somebody else jumps in. But when you are recruiting the Josh Garnett’s, the KeiVarae Russell’s, the Zach Banner’s, who have national attention, those are the guys that tend to drag out the recruiting process so they can go on their recruiting trips or announce at an All-American Game. If anything, it shows that the allure of Washington is returning because they are able to recruit the top-tier guys and are in it to the end with the top-tier guys. It is one of those things where you want that commitment to happen. But at the same time you don’t want to spend all those scholarships in September-November and have nothing to show for it in December and January.”
As a refresher, here are the 17 players who have committed to UW. I have more from Huffman on this recruiting class after the list:
RB Erich Wilson, 6-1, 185, San Mateo, Calif. (Junipero Serra)
S Jason Thompson, 6-2, 205, Burien (Kennedy)
S Taylor Lagace, 6-1, 200, Arcadia, Calif. (Arcadia)
DE Kalei Auelua, 6-1.5, 240, Honolulu (St. Louis)
CB Bryan Harper, 6-foot, 170, Ontario, Calif. (Colony)
P Korey Durkee, 6-4, 195, Gig Harbor (Gig Harbor)
WR Kendyl Taylor, 6-foot, 175, Chandler, Az. (Hamilton)
MLB Blake Rodgers, 6-2, 220, Las Flores, Calif. (Tesoro)
WR Michael Rector, 6-foot, 170, Tacoma (Bellarmine Prep)
DL Malcolm Jackson, 6-3, 255, Spring Valley. Calif. (Mount Miguel)
CB Damontae Kazee, 5-11, 170, San Bernardino, Calif. (Cajon)
OT Nathan Dean, 6-5, 270, Kirkland (Juanita)
WR Dwayne Washington, 6-foot, 170, Cerritos, Calif. (Gahr)
QB Cyler Miles, 6-2, 220, Denver (Mullen)
CB Darien Washington, 5-11, 175 Orange, Calif., (Lutheran)
QB Jeff Lindquist, 6-3, 225, Mercer Island (Mercer Island)
RB Tairen Owens, 5-9, 165, Pasadena (Muir)
A quick glance at the list makes it obvious that UW needs to close well with linemen. Garnett and Banner would go a long way toward doing that, as would getting Shane Brostek (like each of those other two, also the son of a former UW football player). UW is also thought in good position to get Cory English of Auburn.
As always, I like to leave it to the experts when it comes to recruiting, so I asked Huffman for a few more thoughts on UW’s class:
On where he thinks Banner, Garnett and Russell are leaning: “I still personally think they are leading for Banner and for Russell. I would probably be surprised if either of those guys went elsewhere. Garnett is the guy they have their work cut out for. He had a great time on his trip to Michigan, and not that I think Michigan is a huge threat, I still think it will come down to Stanford and Washington for him, but he is definitely a guy they are going to have to work extra hard on to get because he is definitely drawn to Stanford and has a great relationship with (head coach) David Shaw and (assistant) Randy Hart. Banner and Russell, I really see those guys staying in-state when it’s all said and done.”
On what else UW has to do to finish with a class that is highly rated: “There are certain positions that they’ve got to shore up. Linebacker is one, and there are not a lot of great linebackers, but they could use some more, and the offensive line, especially — Nathan Dean is the only commitment they have gotten. I know they got a lot of linemen two years ago and three of those guys were stating this year, but you don’t want to stagger where you have a big class, a small class and then another small class. They’ve got the chance to get guys like Banner and Garnett, and it’s not just getting the top end guys but also getting depth at that position as well. They’ve got to get more linemen and D-tackles. That’s the other position that there is a real dearth of out West this year. There are two guys on the Scout.com 300 this year, Ellis McCarthy and Aziz Shittu, and that’s it. There are a lot of mid-level, mid-tier type guys at the defensive tackle position, so in a year where there are not a lot you’ve got to go get some guys. Those are guys that are hard to recruit anyways. Got to find a way to bring in a couple of those guys.”
On the impact of Mike Leach coming to WSU: “I don’t think it will (be felt) in the 2012 Class. I think at this point because Washington and Washington State have pretty big classes put together already. They may get a little momentary bump in recruiting, but I think you will see it really affect the 2013 Class. It will affect Washington in the sense that there is a sense that (UW coach Steve) Sarkisian is trying to build a wall around the state, and now Leach comes in and has a bigger name than Sarkisian has now, he’s kind of the lightning rod type guy that people are going to know. He’s a guy that’s recruited against Mack Brown, and there may not have been a better recruiter in the last 15 years than Mack Brown, he’ll relish the opportunity to come into Seattle and try to recruit these guys. So it may not be necessarily the 2012 guys but it will be the 2013 guys, and not just in the state but around California and the West Coast.”
On if there a couple of out-of-state guys that could really impact Washington’s class: “Yeah, (cornerback) Brandon Beaver is a guy that they are really doing well with although now they have to weather him taking a trip to Georgia and potentially Cal next month. They made their push to him and now they’ve got to see what these other schools do, though I still think Washington is leading. (DB/WR) Davonte’ Neal from Arizona is a guy that Washington has really been working on, he’s visiting LSU. … Another guy that they are heavily recruiting is (CB) Shaq Thompson. They are in the top three and they have already made their push for him but Cal is still considered the prohibitive favorite for him.”
On the fence around the state being is threatened with losing guys like Tacoma Baptist’s Walker Williams (lineman who committed to Wisconsin) and Lakes’ Cedric Dozier (receiver who committed to Cal): “I would say it could be a concern in the sense that they lost Dozier to a Pac-12 rival and a Division rival, and Garnett if they lose him to a Pac-12 North school that that’s the one, and he’s a legacy, so he is really going to be the one that people will look at. He’s kind of that guy that could make it really catastrophic or make it that you got the top three guys in the fold, a guy that could make it really that we’ve still got that fence really strong and you’d say at the end the day Dozier wanted to play receiver in college and how often are you going to get that opportunity and say ‘okay, Garnett is the guy you didn’t want to lose.”’