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Grading Washington's recruiting class
Malamute, 3 February 2011; updated 11 February

At times my thoughts wander from the creaky wooden floors of Denny Hall and the perfumed labs of Bagley Hall down to  the old golf course and the hunt for a lost ball.

Fore, right!

For the second straight year, Coach Steve Sarkisian has hauled in a bumper crop of student athletes. Washington's recent victory in the Holiday Bowl, along with this year's recruiting bonanza, seems to say the program is back on track after nine-straight non-winning seasons.

Sark's recruiting class puts a fence around the State of Washington, adds height to the receiving corps, adds durability to the quarterback spot, and  bolsters the depth at the RB position, this, too, along with shoring up the defensive line and safety position.

The official list of signees can be found at gohuskies.com, as well as the player bios.

The class closets all five members of the Seattle Times' Blue Chip list, highlighted by Parade All America Player of the Year, 5-star recruit, WR Kasen Williams (6-foot-3, 215, 4.60).

Including Williams, the Tacoma News Tribune names eight UW recruits to its Western 100.

Now for the bad news. Not signing a 4-star offensive lineman is perplexing; the Huskies need to sign at least one blue-chip offensive lineman each year. Not enrolling a punter/kicker into school could be a problem in 2012, and the same goes for the cornerback position where only one player was signed. The incoming line-backing corps was somewhat disappointing, considering the two significant graduation losses at the position. 

Table 1. Recruiting Services Rankings in Pac-10 (2/14/2011)

    scout rivals espn SN average
USC   5 4 4 6 4.75
Oregon   10 9 14 8 10.25
California   14 17 17 18 16.5
Washington 23 23 24 15 21.25
Stanford    21 22 21 21 21.25

Note that Washington's four competitors from the table above each signed one or more 4-star recruits to the offensive line, with USC inking two and Oregon three.

Our assigned grade below is based on ranking (number of stars given to an individual player) and the need fulfillment at a particular position; we rank the class as follows:

Quarterback: B+

Signing behemoth QB Derrick Brown (6-foot-3, 240; 3 stars) from Vista Murrieta was huge, no pun intended. He had originally committed to Utah before de-committing and committing to Washington. Brown gives Washington some much needed durability at the position. I expect him to play in 2011. Incidentally, he averaged 45 yards per punt in high school and is said to be just as deadly with his legs as his arm, which should make for an intriguing Wildcat possibility. He models his game after Tim Tebow and has been likened to Jake Locker.

Brown ranks No. 7 among California quarterbacks, ahead, for instance, of Westlake Village Oaks Christian's Trevor Gretzky (son of Wayne Gretzky) at No. 11 and Los Angeles Loyola's Jerry Neuheisel (son of UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel) at No. 12.

Brown is another student athlete from the Inland Empire, now added to the Huskies' roster. Chris Polk out of Redlands East Valley (Rev) is known for the IE tattooed on his right biceps.

(Update): QB Antavius Sims (6-foot-2, 200) from Ventura College has signed a letter of intent, according to gohuskies.com, which lists him as an athlete. In 2010, Sims completed 165 of 299 pass attempts for 1,956 yards, and 13 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,014 yards and 15 touchdowns on 223 carries and led the Southern California JCs in total offense with 2,960 yards. There is talk of him playing cornerback, as well as quarterback.

Tight End: A

With the signing of 5-star TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6-foot-6, 240, 4.68) , Washington  plugs a gaping hole that has existed at tight end for a number of years. Along with Washington, he had offers from Alabama, LSU, Florida, USC, UCLA, Texas, and California. Seferian-Jenkins is a member of the Seattle Times Blue Chip list and the Western 100.

Wide Receiver: A

Besides landing the 5-star Williams, UW picks up added height at the wide-receiver position with 3-star receivers Josh Perkins (6-foot-3, 200, 4.6) and Jamaal Jones (6-foot-2,180, 4.55). Although Dorsey high 3-star-recruit Marvin Hall is just 5-foot-10, he makes up for his lack of size with speed and athleticism. He had offers from seven other schools, most notably California.

Running Back: A-

Recruiting 4-star running back Bishop Sankey (5-11, 190, 4.46), also a Times Blue Chip player, away from WSU was particularly gratifying. Apparently, he wants to attend a school that teaches something other than just the mechanics of rolling ice balls and the physics of launching them (joke). Sankey adds depth to the running back position, a position that can never have enough studs because of its high risk of injury. Sankey is expected to run kickoffs back in 2011. He rushed for 2,518 yards last season at Gonzaga Prep.

Gardena high's bullish Dezden Petty (6-foot-0, 212) is expected to play fullback. He has the potential to be an 18-wheeler running down hill.

The defensive line: B+

According to the stats from last year, UW needs to stop the run this year to ensure a winning season. Jake Locker is gone, and it's time for the defense to pick up some slack. (Incidentally, Locker had a most respectable passing-efficiency rating of 142.32 in the Senior Bowl, the best rating of the three quarterbacks playing for the North; a defensive pass interference penalty robbed him of a touchdown pass).

Losing DT Uriah Grant to Old Miss was a blow to the D's mid-section. However, UW picks up 4-star defensive end Taniela Tupou (6-foot-2.5, 260, 4.8), who should add some speed to the outside pass rush. Tupou, along with 3-star signee DT Danny Shelton (6-foot-3, 286, 5.3), is a member of the Times' Blue Chip list. Unfortunately, Paramount's Maataua Brown (DT, 3 stars, 6-foot-5, 295), who didn't qualify, would have lent a big frame and sheer athleticism to the defensive side of the ball.

Linebacker: C

The Huskies need to replace outside linebacker Mason Foster, second in the nation in tackles (12.58 per game), and Victor Aiyewa, who finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the Pac-10 and 11th (tied) in the nation with 1.50 tackles for loss per game.

Middle linebacker Thomas Tutogi (6-foot-1, 235, 4.55), a JC transfer, is already enrolled in school and is one of four incoming linebackers. Incoming 3-star linebacker Corey Waller (6-foot-2.5, 210, 4.6) was named to the TNT Western 100.

Punter/Kicker: D

In last season's recruiting travails, losing kicker Alejandro Maldonado to Oregon was a big disappointment. He had been committed to Washington for some time.

His loss is compounded by the fact no one has been recruited to replace punters Will Mahan and Kiel Rasp or kicker Erik Folk, all of whom will be seniors this year.

Off to the JC ranks next year or will walk-ons fill the void? Or will Brown do some punting, a la Bob Schloredt?

Offensive Line: C

Sark hauled in seven offensive linemen last February.

However, he loses Cody Habben and Ryan Tolar -- 21 starts between them in 2010 --  to graduation. Also, Greg Christine -- who started a total of seven games on the offensive line: four at right guard, two at center and one at left guard -- graduates.

On the offensive line, the Huskies have signed Siosifa Tufunga (6-foot-1, 297) and Dexter Charles (6-foot-5, 280).

The loss of 4-star lineman Paulay Asiata, who committed on January 24th and de-committed a week later, illustrates the vagaries of the recruiting process.

Cornerback: C+

Both starters are back, Quinton Richardson (Senior) and Desmond Trufant (Junior).

Also seeing playing time this season, Vonzell McDowell, Jr. has graduated, and Anthony Boyles (scout team) has left the program.

Only one cornerback is listed on gohuskies.com: Marcus Peters (6-foot-0, 179) of McClymonds High in Oakland. Peters is a member of the TNT Western 100 and was the  Bay Area News Group-East Bay Defensive Player of the Year.

In his blog, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times quotes McClymonds coach Curtis McCauley as saying: "He's a long player. He's tall, about 6-2, about 180 pounds, runs like a 4.4 40-yard dash, has tremendous closing speed and playmaking ability due to being able with his instincts to anticipate and make plays and jump routes. So he played man-to-man most of the year and it's hard to get a lot of picks out of man-to-man, but he was very creative and made things happen out there.''

If you think Sims will play corner, give this positional unit a B.

Safety: A

Nate Williams (105 total tackles in 2010) is gone, however, Nate Fellner (79 total tackles) returns at safety. Last year, U-Dub signed 4-star safety Sean Parker, and this year it has signed another 4-star athlete at the position, James Sample (6-foot-2, 191), who is listed on the TNT Western 100.

Coaches' grade point average: 3.25 (Just under a B+)

The coaches put a fence around the state with a sign affixed to the front gate that reads, "no-poaching, rabid-dawg-inside." This is especially commendable considering the nation-wide interest sparked by Williams, Seferian-Jenkins, and Shelton.

Adding height and size to the receiving corps was noteworthy, as well as bulking up the quarterback position with a stud from the I. E.

The foray into California produced some noteworthy spoils.

The punter/kicker and offensive line positions were disappointing, but certainly remediable next time around.


The Name Game, 2011 (names taken from above)

Clue: A religious leader lost at sea.

Answer: Bishop Sankey.

Clue: A book in the bible, for instance.

Answer: James Sample.

Clue: An irritating capital city in Germany.

Answer: Kiel Rasp.

Clue: Brother of Nick, a folksy chap.

Answer: Erik Folk.

Clue: The Prez from Rev.

Answer: Chris Polk.

Clue: Those who call Polk "the Prez," might want to call Derrick (who?) "the Guv."

Answer: Derrick Brown.

Clue: Think antivirus plus a popular computer game.

Answer: Antavius Sims.

Richard Linde can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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