Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Huskies complete LOI day with a ranked recruiting class!

By Kshell

Well letter of intent day is finally over and done with. Yes you still have some big fish out there but this recruiting class appears to be over. For the second straight year Steve Sarkisian has produced a top 25 recruiting class. Not since the days of Rick Neuheisel has a Huskies coach recruited this well. The part that makes this class so special is that Sarkisian kept all the big in state recruits home at Washington. As Sarkisian said he snatched up the "big Salmon" and isn't worried about the "guppies" who left to Colorado.

In this recruiting class the Huskies signed 24 kids including nine from the state of Washington including the six highest rated guys. The Huskies still recruiting California snatching up 14 kids. The other was three star safety Evan Zeger from Las Vegas, Nevada. The Huskies have the 19th ranked class according to and after having the 11th rated class last year shows Sarkisian is bringing in top notch talent to Montlake. Sarkisan brought in two five star recruits and three four star recruits then brought in 16 three star recruits. I'll talk about in depth coming up on the two big five star recruits.

First I'll talk about five star recruit and the #2 rated tight end in the nation Austin Seferian-Jenkins who is from Gig Harbor. Here was the piece I wrote about Seferian-Jenkins back in August which you can read by clicking here. Seferian-Jenkins will most likely start from day one at tight end for the Huskies. Seferian-Jenkins gives the Huskies a big target at tight end with his tall frame at 6'6" and 250 pounds. His 40 time is still 4.68 so don't be fooled by his big body. In his high school career as a tight end he had 126 receptions. As a Junior he caught 62 passes for 1,152 yards with 11 touchdowns then as a Senior recorded 45 receptions. He is a pass catching machine and given that the Huskies lacked a tight end this past season he'll be a welcome addition to the Huskies. Look for him to be a big target when the Huskies are down in the red zone. With a young quarterback this season having a tight end will be important.

The next player I'll talk about is also a five star recruit and also the #2 rated player at his postion which happens to be wide receiver. This player is Kasen Williams from Skyline high school. While Williams was in high school he only won three state championships and this past year finished second place. This was a big signing when the Huskies snatched him up back in August. I wrote a blog post back then about Williams which you can read here. Williams is another big receiver which Sarkisian likes so much, Williams is listed at 6'3" and 215 pounds. Williams joins an already stacked Huskies receiving core which features Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar plus several other receivers who have contributed in the past. Williams will be a great compliment to Kearse this upcoming season. Kearse is mainly a deep target but can struggle with the passes over the middle. Williams lacks speed but has amazing hands while in high school he caught 235 passes for 4,121 yards and 56 touchdowns. Williams might not start this upcoming season but he'll definately contribute and he'll make a huge impact in 2012. The Huskies will be thin at wide receiver in 2012 since Kearse, Aguilar, Jordan Polk and Cody Bruns will be Seniors in 2011(Thanks to Willingham not redshirting anyone during that 0-12 season).

The next big recruit I'll talk about was a guy who many felt was going to Washington State. Bishop Sankey from Gonzaga Prep High School in Spokane had originally committed to Washington State to join Paul Wulff. Sankey decided instead he would rather play in a bowl game sometime in his career changed his mind and went to Washington. The 17th rated and four star recruit at running back might not play right off the bat but he'll eventually be a nice signing for the Huskies. The Huskies are deep at running back with Chris Polk and Jesse Callier. The Huskies also have some other highly recruited players coming back from injuries. Sarkisian preaches competition which is why players come to Washington now. Regardless of your age or what you have done if you are good enough Sarkisian will play you and find room for you. While at Gonzaga Prep Sankey rushed for 4,335 yards in his career and ran for 2,518 yards this year as a Senior. Sankey also ran a 4.46 40 yard dash so bringing this type of team speed is huge.

The last player I'll talk about is another big grab from outside the state. Sarkisian stole safety James Sample from Sacramento, California. Sample made his announcement during the U.S. Army High School all-star game. Sample along with Sean Parker from last year should provide some much needed improvement in the secondary in years to come. Sample is a big safety standing at 6'2" and 195 pounds. Sample is a four star recruit and the #22 ranked safety in the country. According to rivals he is the 9th rated safety in the nation. He recorded 109 tackles as a Senior showing that he has a nose for the ball. The Huskies are trying to get back to the 1990's where they had terrific safety play from Shane Pahukoa and Tommie Smith to Lawyer Milloy to Tony Parrish to Hakim Akbar to Curtis Williams. Hopefully with Sean Parker and James Sample the Huskies can receive great safety play which will allow the defense to bring more pressure on the quarterback.

Now that I've built you up with recruiting I will have to talk about some truths. The sad truth is we don't know if these players will turn out. Odds are at least one or more of these players will "bust" out. Not necesarily one of these four players but one of the "big" recruits will. On the flip side most likely some two or three star recruit that I don't even know will emerge as lead dawg of the class much like Steve Emtman, Donald Butler and Mason Foster did. Like what has been pointed out recently by Jason Chorak in 1993 the Huskies had a C- class yet that class produced more NFL draft picks than any other class in Huskies history. This is all a guessing game as we don't know how these 17 and 18 year olds will be when they are 22 and 23 years old. I remember being excited about Kavario Middleton(five star recruit) coming to Washington and not really caring about Cort Dennison(two star recruit) coming to Washington. The Huskies produced middle of the pack recruiting under Willingham which you saw didn't translate into wins. For how great today feels the Huskies still were only fourth in the Pac-12 in recruiting just four spots ahead of Stanford. In reality nobody knows what will happen we just want to be optimistic about our team.

What many people fail to realize is recruiting is important but that is just one of many steps. If you look up the national champions this decade go back and look at the rankings of their fifth, fourth and three year classes. You'll find with the exception of Alabama(whose second year players were ranked first in the nation), every National Champion had two of those three classes in the top 10 according to the recruiting websites. So recruiting does matter, yes the two star guys like Mason Foster who emerge are nice but so is Jake Locker and Chris Polk who were huge recruits. For all the talk Oregon State Beavers receive for doing so much with so little according to the rankings stop and remember what have they actually won? The Beavers aren't winning any Pac-10 titles ever or beating big time opponents out of conference. You can compete for bowl games without top tier classes which Oregon State has proven but at Washington eventually going to second rate bowl games won't be acceptable. The Huskies will want to compete for Rose Bowls and other BCS bowls. You can't do that with a roster full of two star recruits.

All in all, today was a nice solid day for the Huskies. This was nothing to celebrate by any means as the Huskies were only fourth in the Pac-12 conference this year in recruiting. The Huskies with the exception of Sample didn't really grab any big name recruits outside this state. Sarkisian did a great job of putting up a fence around the state though making sure the top six recruits stayed home at Montlake. This class along with last year is just the beginning of hopefully good things to come for the Huskies. This is simply the first step as now it's up to Sarkisian and the rest of the coaching staff to maximize these kids talents. Don James didn't always grab the best kids but he seemed to always grab the right kids. Hopefully Sarkisian has did just that today with this recruiting class. So far Sarkisian has only had two full recruiting classes in two seasons both finished ranked. Now Sarkisian will be asked to have his football team on the field finished the year ranked. When Sarkisian has the Huskies ending the year ranked that is when the Huskies can finally celebrate!

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