Huskies score stunning coup in Montana
DAVE BOLING; THE NEWS TRIBUNE
Nick Montana may not throw a pass for the University of Washington for a couple of years. But he’s already contributed more to coach Steve Sarkisian’s infant program than is imaginable.
No other verbal commitment the Huskies could have received from a 17-year-old player anywhere in the country could have generated so much nationwide attention and positive public relations.
Whether he has inherited Joe Montana’s quarterbacking skills, leadership and coolness under pressure is not as important for the time being as the fact that he carries that surname.
Obviously, last week’s news of his early commitment to UW (he won’t appear on campus until the fall of 2010) was carried across the country.
It’s a story that has star power and reach. It has Google juice and it addresses an element that is at the very heart of recruiting: Perception.
Yes, they always can sell academics and tradition. But it’s hard to put a smiley face on those five straight losing seasons, especially that 0-for-2008.
There’s the new coach, sure, and Sarkisian certainly brings energy to the program. But does anybody have enough energy to lift this program off the bottom?
Apparently, Nick Montana thinks he does.
Sarkisian’s experience at developing quarterbacks at USC (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez) was said to be a convincing factor for Montana.
Let’s see, as far as I can tell, Montana took unofficial visits on Daddy’s dime to such powerhouses as Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame (dad’s alma mater, where his older brother is a walk-on), Texas and Ohio State.
For Washington, coming off an 0-12 record, to get the jump on programs like that is astonishing. It makes you wonder what Sarkisian and his staff can do if they really get this going, like say, finishing 2-10 this fall.
It was with some disappointment they failed to land Skyline’s Jake Heaps, considered in scouting reports to be the best quarterback prospect in the country. He committed to BYU.
All I’ve seen are highlight clips of Heaps and Montana, and it appears that each throws a touchdown almost every pass. Since neither actually will play for a couple years, I’d argue that landing Montana is a better “get” in terms of selling the program to other prospects.
Supposedly, one of Montana’s teammates at Oaks Christian in suburban Los Angeles is the highest-rated offensive lineman prospect in California. Think Montana’s decision will help his recruitment?
A Web site called UW Dawg Pound, which focuses on such matters, reported Monday morning that three top recruits have since committed to the Huskies “… and they all mentioned that (Montana’s) commitment was one of the things that put (UW) over the top.”
So, for the next few years, do you think the Montana name might sway recruits … and their fathers?
Heaps certainly is highly regarded and, who knows, may turn into a Heisman winner. But it’s likely that a stud linebacker from L.A. or a wide receiver from Texas probably will give Washington more consideration when he hears that the future Huskies quarterback may be named Montana rather than Heaps.
On top of it, Montana the younger could be pretty good. He’s listed variously at 6-1, 6-2, and about 180 pounds. When tempted to say that’s on the small side, remember that his father made it to the NFL Hall of Fame with a similar frame.
We may presume that he’s had some pretty good backyard coaching, decent training and nutrition. And as for the ability to operate under pressure … hmmm, wonder if there’s any pressure playing quarterback as Joe Montana’s kid? Heck, he’s played with pressure every down since he started.
From the sounds of it, it seems as if the dad is solidly behind Sarkisian and the program, too. Maybe he turns into a visible supporter, a booster, a big donor.
Anything is possible. And right now, the possibilities look extremely positive.
So many things can happen with early commitments, and maybe this doesn’t pan out for some reason.
But I’d argue that even if Nick Montana never throws a pass for UW, he’s already been a very important part of Steve Sarkisian’s early efforts at reviving the Huskies.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440