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Huskies bring in 26 recruits
Dawgs second in TNT’s Western 100
By: Malamute, 5 February 2003

Finishing behind USC and Cal, Washington managed to garner the third best recruiting class in the Pac-10, according to rivals.com. This internet recruiting service ranks the Huskies twenty-second nationally, while the insiders.com ranks it twentieth nationally and third in the Pac-10. The Dawgs landed 14 players listed in the Tacoma News Tribune's Western 100, but failed to land a running back or an offensive lineman from that list.

Not surprisingly, the Dawgs, who dominated the Pac-10 in passing statistics in 2002, cleaned up on wide receivers, corralling one third of the receivers listed in the Tacoma News Tribune's Western 100. However, USC was able to land Parade All-American Steve Smith, a consensus all-everything wide receiver from Taft high school. Smith can play defense as well, and led the state of California in interceptions this year with 12.

Apparently, the Trojans are about to sign Parade All-American Whitney Lewis (WR, 6'1, 215), out of St. Bonaventure (Ventura). As of this morning, according to the Ventura County Star, Lewis' mother, Sherry Laws, said that she would not sign a letter of intent unless Lewis was headed for USC. Lewis wants to enroll at Florida State.

Incoming Husky recruits Corey Williams (WR, 6-3, 185, Las Vegas), Charles Smith (WR, 6-1 175 La Mesa, Calif.; La Mesa Helix) and Craig Chambers (WR, 6-5, 197, Jackson) are among Tom Lemming's (ESPN) top 25 receivers in the country--so the Trojans didn't completely put the hammer on the Huskies in this area. This trio will most likely get playing time next season since Wide receivers Wilbur Hooks, Pat Reddick, Paul Arnold are lost to graduation and Eddie Jackson has left the program.

Disappointingly, the Huskies, who finished 113th in NCAA rushing statistics in 2002 (Division 1-A), failed to land one running back or offensive linemen listed in the Tribunes’ Western 100. However, as they did with Kenny James last season, the Dawgs managed to lure Louis Rankin (RB, 6-3, 180, Stockton) away from Fresno State. Rankin is a 4.3 speedster who broke a Stockton area rushing record this season with 41 touchdowns on 2200 yards carried.

It's hard to sell a north forty that features a running stream, when the stream is barely a trickle.

USC got Parade All-American running back Reggie Bush (6-0, 180, Helix Charles High), who had been on the Husky radar before committing to USC.

Durrell Moss (6-1, 190), listed as an athlete in the Tribune 100, could play running back for the Dawgs, as could Anthony Russo (5-11,180). Presumably, they’ll be tried on defense first.

At quarterback, although not listed as part of the official recruiting class, the Huskies landed Carl Bonnell (6-3, 194), who gray-shirted at WSU last year. Gray-shirting allows a student athlete to enroll at the school but not participate with the team, saving an extra year of eligibility. Because Washington contacted Bonnell before his letter-of-intent expired, his status is unclear at this time and won’t be resolved until the National Letter of Intent steering committee meets this summer.

The Huskies failed to land a punter from the J.C. ranks to replace Derek McLaughlin (sophomore), who left school after the Sun Bowl to take a Mormon mission. Instead, the Dawgs recruited Sean Douglas (6-1, 195) from Bellevue, Nebraska, who can function as either a kicker or punter. Also, they landed Michael Braunstein, a kicker from Gilbert, Arizona, a member of the Tacoma Tribunes’ 100. Both will be true freshman and are expected to handle the kicking/punting chores next season.

Whoever punts for the Dawgs next season--most likely Douglas--can expect heavy pressure in his first game when the Huskies play the defending-national champion, Ohio State. The Huskies suffered five blocked punts in the 2001 season when McLaughlin was a true freshman, one in the opener against Michigan.

The Huskies will get immediate help from two highly-sought after players from the J.C. ranks, Mike Mapu (DE, 6-4, 250, Mesa J.C.) and Jon Lyon (TE, 6-6, 251, Saddleback J.C.).  Mapu is a candidate to replace Kyle Ellis at defensive end, and Lyon is expected to fill the shoes of Kevin Ware at tight end, along with redshirt sophomore to be Joe Toledo (6-6, 290).

At defensive end, the Dawgs landed Wilson Afoa (6-3, 260, Saint Lous), who was named Hawaii’s high school defensive player of the year last fall; he told the Honolulu Advertiser that he liked Washington’s facilities and their schools of education. This last season, Afoa had 51 tackles and 19 for a loss.

One of Washington’s recruits, Jordan Reffett (6-6, 250, Moses Lake), who signed with Washington last year but was ineligible to play, will contribute on the defensive line next season, along with Afoa and Mapu. This last season, the Dawgs finished fourth in the Pac-10 in rushing defense.

The Huskies lost Mathew Malele (NT, 6-0, 302, Carson) to Cal. Malele, a nose tackle with Larry Tripplett’s size and speed, though a freshman, might have contributed at NT in 2003. He wasn’t expected to redshirt. He would have been a welcome addition to the eleven players of Polynesian descent at Washington. The closely-knit group of Polys call themselves "The Tribe."

Also, the Dawgs failed to close on Dennis Dixon (QB, 6-4, 177, San Leandro) and Devin Stearns (6-2, 175, Paramount, Calif.). Dixon ended up at Oregon and Stearns is going to play for Cal.

A case for failing to close on Malele, Dixon and Stearns might be made, considering the sanctions levied by the NCAA against head coach Rick Neuheisel who was not permitted to make in-home recruiting visits this season because of the secondary recruiting violations he incurred while coaching the Colorado Buffaloes during the 1996-1998 seasons.

On the home-grown front, the Huskies landed three of the five Seattle Times’ blue-chip selections, these five all from the State of Washington. The three Dawgs to be are Tahj Bomar (LB, 6-2, 210, Kentwood), Derrick Bradley (DB, 5-10, 185, Kamiak), and Craig Chambers, a legacy recruit.

Bomar, Bradley, Smith, Williams, Afoa and Chambers are also members of the Tacoma News Tribune's Western 100, which lists the top 100 high school recruits in the western states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington). This list does not include J.C. transfers or players like Bonnell (grayshirt) that can affect a school’s overall ranking. Other recruits from the Western 100, who have chosen Washington, are as follows.

  • Quintin Daniels (WR, 6-0 180 Los Angeles; Loyola)
  • Kyle Trew (SS/LB, 6-2 215 Edmonds, Wash. (Edmonds-Woodway)
  • Rob Lewis (LB, 6-5 215 Van Nuys, Calif.; Montclair Prep)
  • Michael Braunstein (K, 5-8 170 Gilbert, Ariz.; Gilbert)
  • Cody Ellis (Athlete, (6-1 170, Puyallup; Puyallup)
  • Durrell Moss (Athlete, 6-1 190 Orange, Calif.; Orange)
  • Anthony Russo (Athlete, 5-11 180 Lakewood; Lakes)
  • Clarence Simpson (Athlete, 6-3 195 Sylmar, Calif.; Sylmar)

Players and where they're headed (Tacoma News Tribune's Western 100).



USC 22
Washington 14
California 13
Oregon 9
Arizona State 7
Stanford 6
Oregon State 4
Washington State 3
Arizona 2

Caveat: Any factual errors appearing in this article are my own and should not be attributed to the Tacoma News Tribune, rivals.com or the insiders.com.


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