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Thursday, January 26, 2006 - Page updated at 10:15 PM

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Recruiting

Analysts say state's football recruits a bustling crop

Seattle Times staff reporter

The state's crop of senior football recruits has remarkable headliners. Players such as Taylor Mays, Jake Locker and Stephen Schilling gave national recruiting luster to this class.

What it lacks is depth.

One Pac-10 recruiter called the Washington in-state class "average" and a Big Sky Conference recruiter called it "something of a down year overall."

In the annual review of in-state talent, the Times has designated only four players as "blue chip," which means they are considered capable of stardom at the Pac-10 level.

It is the lowest total since 2002, when there were three blue-chippers.

This year's blue-chippers: Locker, the Washington Huskies quarterback recruit who led Ferndale to the Class 3A state title; Andy Mattingly, a versatile player at Mead High School near Spokane who is likely to play safety at Washington State; Mays of O'Dea, a remarkable meld of size and speed at safety who will play at USC; and Schilling of Bellevue, a offensive lineman who Thursday chose Michigan over Washington and California.

Mays is ranked the No. 16 player in the nation by Rivals.com. Schilling is No. 26 and Locker No. 68.

The Seattle Times' annual Chip List is the top 100 in-state seniors compiled from interviews with high-school and college coaches and sportswriters throughout the state. The rankings of Rivals.comand Scout.comalso are weighed.

Players are evaluated on their college potential, not on their high-school careers. A lot of all-state players don't make this list.

While the Blue Chip picks are considered capable of Division I stardom, the Red Chips are considered capable of being starters in a major conference such as the Pac-10 or stars at the Division I-AA level. White Chips fill out the top 100 prospects in the state.

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Athletes with academic or test-score deficiencies weren't included on the list if they appear headed to a community college.

Ron Siegel, who has followed recruiting in Washington for six decades notes that this year's class lacks a headliner at running back. The previous crop was led by Jonathan Stewart of Timberline High School of Lacey, a national top-10 recruit, and J.R. Hasty of Bellevue, a coveted recruit. Stewart played at Oregon last fall and Hasty redshirted at Washington.

"I'm thinking this is a year where there could be a lot of surprises, especially with linemen," Siegel said. "Don't forget these are 17- and 18-year-old kids and you're trying to project how they are going to be doing in three years against a level of competition they've never experienced until they get to college."

Chris Fetters, a recruiting analyst for Scout.com, said the class is "top-heavy" but thinks it could be surprising.

"There's a ton of prospects just below that top tier that could be huge contributors in college," he said.

Fetters ticked off nine names, including defensive lineman Cameron Elisara of Ferris of Spokane, a Washington recruit; offensive lineman Cody Habben of Skyline, who committed to Washington on Wednesday; and cornerback Brandon Jones of O'Dea, who has committed to California.

Elisara, Habben and Jones came close to making the Blue Chip list.

Fetters said he expects at least 30 players from the state to sign letters of intent with Division I schools.

Wednesday is the first day that seniors can sign letters of intent for college football.

Craig Smith: 206-464-8279 or csmith@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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