Washington Huskies' incoming class of football recruits gets low grades from analysts
Washington's incoming class of football recruits ould be the lowest-rated UW class since such rankings became an annual part of letter-of-intent day two decades ago, unless some last-second surprises skew analysts' appraisals.
Seattle Times staff reporter
|Class of 2009|
|Here are players reported to have committed to sign with UW beginning today:|
|CB||Dominique Gaisie||5-10, 170||Walnut, Calif. (Mt. San Antonio College)|
|DT||Semisi Tokolahi||6-3, 290||Hilo, Hawaii (Hilo)|
|DE||Kimo Makaula||6-2, 225||Honolulu (Punahou)|
|DT||Chris Robinson||6-1, 270||Tustin, Calif. (Tustin)|
|S||Will Shamburger||6-1, 187||Bellflower, Calif. (St. John Bosco)|
|CB||Desmond Trufant||5-11, 170||Tacoma (Wilson)|
|S||Nathan Fellner||6-0, 195||Fresno, Calif. (Clovis West)|
|TE||Dorson Boyce||6-2, 250||Santa Maria, Calif. (Allan Hancock CC)|
|DE||Talia Crichton||6-2, 240||Lakewood, Calif. (Lakewood)|
|QB||Keith Price||6-2, 183||Bellflower, Calif. (St. John Bosco)|
|TE||Marlion Barnett||6-2, 220||Corona, Calif. (Santiago)|
|LB||Andru Pulu||6-3, 250||Federal Way (Federal Way)|
|P||Will Mahan||5-11, 180||Bakersfield, Calif. (Bakersfield CC)|
|DT||Johnny Tivao||5-11, 340||Norwalk Calif. (Cerritos)|
|OT||Daniel Mafoe||6-4, 320||Torrance, Calif. (El Camino)|
|DE||Ryan Davis||6-4, 250||Norwalk, Calif. (Cerritos)|
|MLB||Tim Tucker||6-2, 230||Harbor City, Calif. (Narbonne)|
A tale of two classes
Class of 2005
DE Tyrone Davis — High-school player didn't qualify academically.
QB Johnny DuRocher — Technically counted as part of this class. Career ended early due to brain tumor.
CB Qwenton Freeman — JC transfer didn't qualify academically.
CB Chris Handy — Nevada transfer via JC also didn't qualify academically.
RB J.R. Hasty — Highest-rated of the group but didn't make impact expected and was dismissed from team last summer and is now at Central Washington.
DE Darrion Jones — After a few injury-riddled years became a starter this season before losing his job late.
OT Ben Ossai — A three-year starter at left tackle.
PK Ryan Perkins — Overcame brutal injury early in career to start the last two seasons. But injury forced him to retire at the end of 2008. Was the lone Keith Gilbertson recruit who ended up signing after Willingham took over.
LB E.J.Savannah — Led team in tackles in 2007, then left in 2008 after being suspended. But has returned to the team after being reinstated.
LB Chris Stevens — Played four seasons and has used up eligibility. Played mostly on specialty teams and passing downs.
DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim — A three-year starter, will lead the defense next season.
TE Tim Williams — Played sparingly for one season then transferred to Eastern Washington, though he's no longer playing there, either.
WR Marlon Wood — JC transfer made some memorable plays in his two seasons before eligibility ran out.
OL Morgan Rosborough — Has played sparingly.
COMMENT: Keith Gilbertson's staff had gotten only four commits, and only one stayed on, requiring Willingham's staff to do some quick work. The team had a limited number of scholarships available that year, helping lead to the low numbers. But UW still had a low percentage of success, three players never getting into school and a few others never really contributing.
Class of 1999
PK John Anderson — Four-year starter as kicker
RB Paul Arnold — Two years at running back before back injury turned him into a receiver
OL Todd Bachert — Three-year starter on the OL
OL Wes Call — JC transfer was a starter at RT on the 2000 Rose Bowl team
OL Adis Davtyan — JC transfer never played at UW and transferred to Portland State
CB Roderick Green — JC transfer lettered two years in reserve role
LB Tyler Krambrink — Four-year letterman was a key special-teams player
S Levi Madarieta — Played as a freshman at UW then transferred to BYU
CB Chris Massey — Had 14 starts over four years
WR Quentin Morgan — Played one season before transferring
OL Nick Newton — Three-year starter at tackle
QB Cody Pickett — Three-year starter and leading passer in school history
DB Adam Seery — Three-year letter-winner, mostly played fullback
CB Domynic Shaw — Two-year letter-winner as a backup safety
DL Jerome Stevens — Four-year letter-winner had 23 starts
DB Joey Thomas — Never played at UW, transferred to Montana State and made it to NFL
TE Kevin Ware — Two-year starter at tight end
COMMENT — Despite the coaching change, this class turned out pretty productive with nine starters and 12 key contributors including the leading scorer (Anderson) and passer (Pickett) in school history, each of whom had been recruited by Jim Lambright and retained by Neuheisel.
With little else to get excited about the past year, Washington Huskies fans will awake anxious today for any and all news concerning the beginning of the letter-of-intent signing period.
But on paper, anyway, this will be regarded as yet another defeat for the Huskies.
Despite what recruiting analysts say was an aggressive and hardworking effort by new coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff — one that resulted in a couple of secondary rules violations along the way — Washington's 17- to 19-player class is receiving low ratings.
If those hold up after the signings are official, it would make this the lowest-rated UW class since such rankings became an annual part of letter-of-intent day two decades ago.
The previous lowest rating came in 2005, when UW's class was rated 66th in the nation and last in the Pac-10 by Rivals.com and 55th nationally and again last in the Pac-10 by Scout.com.
And it's no coincidence that the circumstances surrounding that class are similar to this one — a new coaching staff thrust into duty in December after the team fired its coach following its worst season ever.
In 2005, it was Tyrone Willingham taking over for Keith Gilbertson following a 1-10 record that was then the low point of Huskies football. This year, it was Sarkisian taking over for Willingham after 0-12.
Allen Wallace, publisher of SuperPrep Magazine, says recruiting in such a situation is "very, very difficult."
The reasons are pretty obvious and all related to the short time the staff had to put the class together — many kids have already made their decisions and any undecided players who might have considered Washington may have lost interest during the season.
"Absent a miracle, you are not going to go in and start pulling four- and five-star players away from anyone," Wallace said. "Those players are long ago down the road on their decisions or have actually already made their decisions."
Adding a double-whammy this year is that there weren't a lot of high-level prospects in the state of Washington, the one group of players most likely to sign with UW. And most of the Washington players who were worthy had already committed.
"Frankly, it was a pretty miserable year in the Northwest," Wallace said.
Sarkisian, by all accounts, tried to get in as many doors of local players as possible in the limited time he had. He made a run at some of the top local players who were already committed, such as Garfield defensive end Deandre Coleman (California) and wide receiver Gino Simone (Washington State).
But attempting to sway the minds of players who have been wooed by other schools for months can be difficult, as Sarkisian found out.
"People don't understand that you start to get to know these kids in the ninth and 10th grades," former UW recruiting coordinator Dick Baird once said when assessing the difficulties of recruiting when taking over after the season. "When you have continuity on your staff, you tend to get to know the high-school coaches better and develop a rapport with them that really helps."
This is the third time in 10 years UW has had to put together a recruiting class after an end-of-season coaching change. And the hope is that this class turns out more like the 1999 class of Rick Neuheisel's than the 2005 class.
Neuheisel signed 17 players, about half of whom had already committed to previous coach Jim Lambright, including quarterback Cody Pickett. And despite the late change, the class yielded nine players who became regular starters during their careers and three more who became significant reserves. The stature of the class was helped by the late addition of local standout Paul Arnold of Kennedy High School in Burien, who helped boost the ranking to 35th in the country and fifth in the Pac-10 by The Sporting News.
Willingham's class was also boosted by the late addition of two local standouts — the Bellevue tandem of J.R. Hasty and E.J. Savannah.
But overall, the 2005 class is turning out to be as bad as its ranking, producing just five players who became regular starters, and only five players who will still be on the roster next season.
So without a big pool of local talent to choose from, and little already leaning UW's way, Sarkisian has mostly been left to try to sign players from California that he already knew from his time at USC, as well as junior-college players. JC players generally make their decisions later, and six of UW's 18 commitments as of Tuesday morning were junior-college players.
Washington's rating could improve based on the decisions of a few players still undecided. Most notable are wide receiver James Johnson of Escondido, Calif.; JC defensive tackle Myles Wade of Portland (who has given a soft commitment to Texas Tech); JC defensive back David Batts of El Camino, Calif., CC, who is considered leaning to UW; and QB Josh Moten of Harbor City, Calif. (likely to go to Colorado).
Even a couple late signees won't change the overall perception that this class is one of the worst in school history. But analysts say it won't be fair to begin assessing Sarkisian's recruiting until the Class of 2010.
"People will judge Sarkisian maybe too harshly on the basis of this class," Wallace said. "But based on the fact that he's been the head coach for just a couple of months, it's just not going to happen that quickly."
• Josh Pinkard, a cornerback from South Oak High in Dallas who originally committed to UW last summer, told Scout.com Tuesday that the new coaching staff was not honoring the offer, so he is instead signing with Trinity Valley CC in Texas. He is the second player who the new staff inherited whose offer was not honored. The other was Sumner High TE Grant Cisneros, who ended up committing to Central Washington.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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UPDATE - 10:18 PM
Washington State's Klay Thompson will play Thursday against Huskies