Shirley says relationship with Neuheisel was key
Updated 6 February 2010
In 2008, former coach Tyrone
Willingham told a group of us alums and fans, gathered in Palm Springs
for the Chow Down to Washington Banquet, that the offensive line was the
most important unit on his football team.
Obviously, Steve Sarkisian
is like-minded. He signed seven offensive linemen to his 2010 class
on LOI day,
which includes 4-star OL Erik Kohler of Oaks Christian high school, who
the recruiting gurus rate as the best offensive lineman in
California. Out of Hawaii, Micah Hatchie, also rated 4-stars,
joins Kohler to the OL. Other highly-rated UW signees to the wide-bodies include
Colin Porter and Ben Riva. One of just four players named to the
Times blue chip squad, Porter from Bothell is rated 4-stars by scout.com
and ranked the ninth best at his position. The Times named Riva out of
O'Dea high school to its red-chip squad, which consists of 18 players
from the state of Washington.
Washington also signed OT
James Atoe (6-foot-6, 339) from the Dalles, Oregon.
"This guy (Atoe) is a potential top-five NFL draft
pick,'' Sark said at his news conference, citing his size and
"It wouldn't surprise me,'' said his high school
coach Andy Codding, in responding to Bob Condotta
of the Seattle Times, who asked him about Sark's assessment. "He's
got all the tools and he's got a great work ethic. He's a smart, big,
powerful lineman with much better feet than you would expect of a
320-pound kid. He needs to improve his strength but when he does that, I
don't know what the knock on him would be,'' he told Condotta.
Sark noted that the average size of the seven OLs UW
signed is 6-4.5, 295 "and that's bigger than our starting O-line that we
have right now.''
The need for a "beefier" line at Washington has
been our hue and cry since 2002, at a time
when the running game began to deteriorate at Washington. Apparently,
that hope has finally become reality.
Three out of the four Times'
blue chippers have signed with Washington, along with five members of
its red-chip team.
The Huskies also have inked 13 players who are
members of the Tacoma News Tribune's Western 100.
On Wednesday, Safety Sean Parker from
Narbonne high school announced his intentions to go to Washington on
ESPNU. Scout.com gives him 4 stars and a number-6
ranking at his position.
"I'll be attending the University of
Washington," he said, "The up and rising program that they are, the
family atmosphere and the beautiful city of Seattle."
Parker is a huge get for
Washington, and puts the Huskies among the nation's elite in their
ability to recruit outstanding athletes to their football program. ESPN ranks
Parker number 49 on its list of 150 best athletes.
On the same side of the ball,
DL Sione Potoa'e (6-foot-2, 266) from Lakewood is rated 4 stars by scout.com and is said to be the top defensive tackle prospect in the
northwest. He chose Washington over six other schools, including USC and
Certainly getting QB Nick
Montana (6-foot-3, 191) to commit early in the recruiting process helped
with the perception of this class. In September, Montana outdueled QB Jake Heaps statistically, when his Oaks Christian team beat Heaps and
Skyline, 28-25. Heaps, considered the number one quarterback prospect in
the nation, is headed to BYU. Montana is the son of legendary hall of
famer Joe Montana.
Four-star running back
Deontae Cooper from Perris, California, at 6-feet, 205 pounds, gives the
Huskies an inside running threat. His career 7,450 yards' rushing are
second in Inland Empire history, only behind Toby Gerhart (Norco),
runner up for the 2009 Heisman Trophy.
How about giving Cooper
the redoubtable number-8 -- you know, the same number Nip, Willie
and Kenny wore?
It's a very complete class from front to back when
you talk about 16 players on offense and 14 on defense," Sarkisian said.
"It's one that can help us immediately and have an impact this fall for
us in 2010 but also when we look at 2011, 12, 13 down the road.''
Losing kicker Alejandro Maldonado, who had been
committed to Washington for some time, to Oregon was a big
disappointment. UW finished eighth in conference kickoff coverage last
season, and could have used a fresh leg to spell Erik Folk this season.
UW averaged 38.4 yards per kickoff and registered five touchbacks in
Click here for a
list of athletes
who have signed with
USC has an oral commitment
from scout.com's number
one recruit, offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson (6-foot-8, 338), by
way of Saint Paul, Minnesota. He chose the Trojans, among ten
schools who offered him a scholarship, they, in particular, over Florida, Notre Dame,
Michigan, Ohio State and Oklahoma. His recruitment is considered a major coup for
new coach Lane Kiffin and his recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron.
"It's the one that would really send a message to
everyone in the country that USC is going to be a factor with Lane
Kiffin as head coach as they were with Pete Carroll," Jeremey Crabtree,
national recruiting editor for rivals.com, told the Los Angeles Times
However, according to the Los Angeles Times on Friday morning, Henderson is waiting to sign his letter of
intent until after USC officials meet with the NCAA infractions
committee on February 19. USC is under investigation concerning improper
benefits allegedly given to former basketball player O. J. Mayo and
former footballer Reggie Bush.
Crosstown rival Rick
Neuheisel proved to be one of the best closers in college football by
signing defensive backs Dietrich Riley of La Cañada St. Francis and
Anthony Jefferson of Los Angeles Cathedral, linebacker Josh Shirley of
Fontana Kaiser and defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa from Portland,
Shirley told the Riverside Press Enterprise, that
"UCLA was always in my head, but Washington is a great program...it came
down to the final seconds."
He said location (California) and Neuheisel were the
deciding factors, but the relationship with Neuheisel was key.
"We've had some real in-depth conversations, some
real heart-to-heart conversations," Shirley told the Enterprise. "I feel
we have a real good relationship."
Table 1. How the recruiting
services rank the Pac-10.
(Updated 6 Feb 2010).