Top local football prospects leave Washington in wait-and-see mode
The Huskies are being forced to wait on the decisions of many of the key in-state prospects.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Dec. 29, UW vs. Baylor, 6 p.m., ESPN
Latest from the Husky Football & Basketball blogs
The Washington Huskies have become known for their strong finishing kick in the early years of the Steve Sarkisian era.
That's a trait the Huskies hope to repeat this season not only against Baylor in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29, but on the recruiting trail, as well.
Unlike last year, when UW got commitments from highly touted local players such as Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins in August, the Huskies are being forced to wait on the decisions of many of the key in-state prospects this time around.
And it's the decisions of those players — specifically Lakes High offensive tackle Zach Banner, Mariner running back KeiVarae Russell and Puyallup High lineman Josh Garnett — that will go a long way to determining the perception of the Class of 2012.
Banner and Russell were among a dozen recruits who took official visits to Montlake over the weekend, the second-largest group of recruits UW has hosted this year. The Huskies already have one commitment from the weekend, as Auburn High offensive lineman Cory English said Sunday that he will sign with UW on letter-of-intent day Feb. 1
It is expected that Banner and Garnett will wait until late January before making the call. Garnett has not made an official visit to UW but has been to campus often through the years.
"I think for Washington fans, it's just wait (to see what those players do)," said Adam Gorney, the West Recruiting Analyst for Rivals.com. "Last year's recruiting class was a little different because they did wrap up those guys like Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Williams (early)."
Those early commitments helped Washington spend the year ranked among the top 25 in the recruiting rankings.
Washington finished ranked 21st nationally and fifth among Pac-12 schools by Scout.com, and 23rd and fifth by Rivals.com.
The Huskies currently have 19 public commits, a group that is tied for 32nd nationally and tied for third in the conference by Scout.com and 36th and fifth by Rivals.com.
But recruiting analysts say those rankings could rise appreciably if the Huskies are able to land Banner and Garnett, each five-star recruits considered among the best offensive line prospects in the nation.
"I think the big thing that UW fans need to relax on is that when you are recruiting at a higher level, you are going to have to wait the process out a lot more," said Brandon Huffman, the national football recruiting analyst and West Regional recruiting manager for Fox Sports/Scout.com. "When you are not recruiting at as high a level you will get those early commits, because those guys want to jump on board before somebody else jumps in.
"But when you are recruiting the Josh Garnetts, the KeiVarae Russells, the Zach Banners who have national attention, those are the guys that tend to drag out the recruiting process so they can go on their recruiting trips or announce at an All-American game. If anything, it shows that the allure of Washington is returning, because they are able to recruit the top-tier guys and are in it to the end with the top-tier guys."
Russell, a four-star recruit considered the top running back in the state, has also visited California and Notre Dame. Banner's finalists include Michigan, Notre Dame, USC and Oklahoma along with UW, though some think the decision may really come down to the last three. Garnett, who has talked of going into medicine, is thought by some to be favoring Stanford.
Banner is the son of former UW offensive lineman Lincoln Kennedy, and Garnett the son of former Huskies defensive lineman Scott Garnett.
Also taking his official visit this weekend was Mercer Island quarterback Jeff Lindquist, who committed to UW in April. Washington has also gotten a commitment from quarterback Cyler Miles of Denver; he and Lindquist are regarded as four-star recruits.
"The first thing that really stands out is the two quarterbacks," Gorney said. "A lot of people have thought and said the whole time that there is no way Lindquist and Miles are going to end up in this class, but I think they are. I think they both want to go to Washington and play for Sark and they are both different guys (stylistically), so obviously someone has to be the starter and the backup down the road. But I think they each are confident enough that they can get the starting job.
"Getting two four-star quarterbacks in the class is outstanding. That kind of locks up a key position for a lot of years."
• Washington practiced Sunday morning in the Dempsey Indoor, its fifth of 15 practices allowed before the Alamo Bowl. It was largely devoted to younger players.
The Huskies will take three days off before returning to practice Thursday afternoon, when the team will begin serious game-plan work on Baylor.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com. On Twitter @bcondotta.
|Here is a list of Washington's known commitments for the Class of 2012 (heights and weights from Scout.com):|
|QB||Jeff Lindquist||6-3||225||Mercer Island (Mercer Island)|
|QB||Cyler Miles||6-2||220||Denver (Mullen)|
|RB||Tairen Owens||5-9||165||Pasadena (Muir)|
|RB||Erich Wilson||6-1||185||San Mateo, Calif. (Junipero Serra)|
|WR||Michael Rector||6-0||170||Tacoma (Bellarmine Prep)|
|WR||Kendyl Taylor||6-0||175||Chandler, Ariz. (Hamilton)|
|WR||Dwayne Washington||6-0||170||Cerritos, Calif. (Gahr)|
|OT||Nathan Dean||6-5||270||Kirkland (Juanita)|
|OTL||Cory English||6-4||285||Auburn (Auburn)|
|DL||Malcolm Jackson||6-3||255||Spring Valley. Calif. (Mt. Miguel)|
|DE||Kalei Auelua||6-1 ½||240||Honolulu (St. Louis)|
|DE/LB||Cory Littleton||6-4||220||Spring Valley, Calif. (Mt. Miguel)|
|MLB||Ryan McDaniel||6-1||220||Torrance, Calif. (North Torrance)|
|MLB||Blake Rodgers||6-2||220||Las Flores, Calif. (Tesoro)|
|CB||Bryan Harper||6-0||170||Ontario, Calif. (Colony)|
|CB||Darien Washington||5-11||175||Orange, Calif., (Lutheran)|
|S||Taylor Lagace||6-1||200||Arcadia, Calif. (Arcadia)|
|S||Jason Thompson||6-2||205||Burien (Kennedy)|
|P||Korey Durkee||6-4||195||Gig Harbor (Gig Harbor)|