We’ll continue our season-ending review of the recruiting classes that made up this year’s team with a look at the signees from 2009.
That was the first class put together by Steve Sarkisian, though he had just two months to do so after taking over at UW on Dec. 8, 2008 to replace the fired Tyrone Willingham, whose staff had gotten a few commitments prior to its dismissal.
As I’ve noted in earlier reviews of this group, classes put together on the fly rarely grade out as well as others, and UW was also hamstrung by the 0-12 record of 2008 and the months of uncertainty over the coaching situation, as well as the fact that it had a small number of scholarships to offer.
UW signed 19 players for that class, but already just eight will remain after the Alamo Bowl.
Of those gone, three were JC players who did not get admitted for academic reasons. Two others were dismissed from the team. Two were JC players who will have already used up their eligibility. One retired early due to injury, one transferred, and two others left the team early this season.
Of those that will remain going forward, several are key pieces, such as quarterback Keith Price (pictured in a Dean Rutz photo) and cornerback Desmond Trufant.
But as we’ve written before, in general this class is looking like it won’t make recruiting analysts who pegged it near the bottom of the Pac-10 and in the 50-60-range nationally second-guess their original thoughts.
And reviewing this class also illustrates well why this is still a program in the building stages overall with another full class or two likely needed to give UW the all-around depth necessary to really get back to year-in, year-out contention.
Here’s a look at each player signed in 2009:
CB David Batts — JC transfer was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules early in 2009 and never played a down.
TE Dorson Boyce — JC transfer played in 2009 and 2010, using up his eligibility.
TE Marlion Barnett — Redshirted in 2009 and played in 10 games in 2010 and was headed for a reserve role this year before quitting the team prior to the Nebraska game.
DE Talia Crichton — Emerged as a starter midway through 2009 and held that spot through first half of 2010 before suffering knee injury. Recovered in time for spring and served as a backup this season.
S Nate Fellner — Emerged as a starter at FS late in 2009 and held that spot through 2010 and was the starter early this year before suffering a hamstring injury. He recovered and regained his starting job due in part to injuries to others, and is listed as the starter for the Alamo Bowl.
CB Dominique Gaisie — Another JC transfer that didn’t get academically eligible.
WR James Johnson — A standout as a true freshman in 2009, battled injuries and a slump in 2010. He rebounded the first half of this year with 26 catches before suffering another ankle injury that slowed him during the second half.
OT Daniel Mafoe — JC transfer didn’t get eligible.
DE Kimo Makaula — Switched to FB and redshirted in 2009 and didn’t play in 2010 before deciding to transfer to Idaho State.
P Will Mahan — Starting punter in 2009 and for first game in 2010 before suffering ACL injury. He returned to share the job this year with Kiel Rasp, used primarily to make directional punts on short fields, and averaging 41.2 yards per kick on 12 attempts.
QB Keith Price — Redshirted in 2009 and became backup to Jake Locker in 2010 before taking over the starting job this season. Merely had one of the best seasons in UW history with a school-record 29 touchdown passes so far, among many laudatory numbers. Initially committed to Willingham’s staff and then reaffirmed it once Sarkisian took over (as did Fellner).
DE Andru Pulu — Played in mostly a reserve role and on special teams in 2009 before running into off-field trouble and being dismissed from the team. Now at Eastern Washington where he was ineligible to play this year due to transfer rules but will be eligible in 2012.
DT Chris Robinson — Sat out 2009 to rehab a pre-existing knee injury that required surgery, and played sparingly in 2010. Was on track to provide depth at DT in 2011 before re-injuring the knee in the spring and deciding to retire.
S Will Shamburger — Redshirted in 2009, in part to let a knee injury heal, and served in a reserve role and on special teams in 2010. Emerged this year to start four games at free safety before suffering a stinger that held him out against WSU and has him questionable for the Apple Cup. Has 36 tackles.
DT Johnny Tivao — Another JC transfer that didn’t get academically eligible.
DT Semisi Tokolahi — Emerged as a key contributor on the DL late in 2010 before suffering ankle injury in the Apple Cup. Returned to play a key role on the line this year, officially making seven starts at tackle.
CB Desmond Trufant — Emerged as a starter midway through 2009 season, holding that role through 2010 and again this season. Obviously had some tough moments, but also was the mainstay of UW cornerback spot and earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention.
MLB Tim Tucker — Redshirted in 2009 and served in a reserve role in 2010. Moved to fullback this year and emerged as a starter late in the year.
LB Jordan Wallace — A reserve and special teams player his first two years, he was pegged for that role again this year before leaving the team in September.
And as I’ve noted before on this class, it’s worth recalling that UW was kind of forced to go the JC route more heavily than it wanted to due to the short time to put this class together. Sarkisian has since said he won’t recruit as many JC in future years, and he hasn’t — UW signed none in 2010 and two in 2011, and has one commitment so far this year from a JC player.
Obviously, it’s the heavy number of JC players that has the level of attrition higher than it normally would be at this point.
Price will go a long way toward salvaging the legacy of this class. But again to note what we’ve said here before, given the short time to put it together, the overall contributions UW is getting from this class is probably about what should have been expected given the circumstances.