The immediate demands on Washington’s new recruits have changed.
When Steve Sarkisian took over in 2009, he was filling spots as much as building toward the future. The Huskies’ roster he inherited was thin. Depth concerns, notably on both lines, forced young players to start games against older counterparts prior to being ready.
Four years later, Sarkisian, wearing a purple tie, sat in front of the media and explained that many of the 22 players Washington received commitments from Wednesday on national signing day will be able to take a different path.
“There’s not going to be too many of these guys that have to come in and play like we’ve had to in the past,” Sarkisian said. “We’re at a point now where redshirting guys has become a luxury for us.”
That doesn’t mean Washington didn’t end
up with players who could have an impact as early as Aug. 31 when Boise State pays a visit to Seattle to open the 2013 season.
Rivals.com ranked Washington’s class 18th in the country as did ESPN. Scout.com ranks the Huskies’ haul 14th.
The Huskies brought in a trio of wide receivers who already have Sarkisian giddy in anticipation. Damore’ea Stringfellow from Perris,
Calif., is the bigwig of the group.
“He looks like an NFL wideout today,” Sarkisian said of the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Stringfellow.
John Ross, 5-11 and 180 pounds out of Long Beach, Calif., is more of a big-play receiver, and Darrell Daniels, 6-4, 220 pounds, is a possession-type receiver.
Each brings a unique facet.
“You could argue (this) is the best corps of wide receivers in the country,” Sarkisian said.
Washington could use a boost at the position. The Huskies relied on receiver Kasen Williams and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins last season in the passing game, providing them with little help. The return of fifth-year senior James Johnson, a year of experience for DiAndre Campbell and Jaydon Mickens, plus the newcomers should supply Washington with the depth it had among receivers in 2011 when Devin Aguilar and Jermaine Kearse headed up the group.
“We felt like we needed a group that could come in here and score touchdowns, not just in the red zone but from a distance,” Sarkisian said.
Spread offenses often did that to Washington last season and Oregon’s has been doing it for almost a decade. So, Sarkisian told his staff to pursue long, swift defenders to specifically help counter spread offenses. The result was three linebackers, none shorter than 6-1. In fact, of the 22 new players, only three are shorter than 6-feet and one of those is a kicker, Cameron Van Winkle.
Sarkisian had been in pursuit of taller defensive players and that desire was bolstered when he watched big defensive backs Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner and Kam Chancellor running around at Seattle Seahawks practices.
Not everything worked as planned, however.
Washington lost out on a big recruit when four-star defensive end Daeshon Hall chose Texas A&M over Washington after being verbally committed to the Huskies. Hall is a classic flip-flop recruit. He grew up in Seattle and spent his freshman and sophomore years of high school at Garfield prior to moving to Lancaster, Texas.
He first committed to Texas as a junior then switched to Washington last June because he wanted to stay close to home. In January, he visited Baylor and Texas A&M. Wednesday morning, he signed with the Aggies.
Washington’s class is flooded with out-of-state recruits. Of the 22, 16 come from California. Four come from Washington state. One is from Texas.
Sarkisian said the Huskies will continue to concentrate on the West Coast, but will also check into places such as Texas in future recruiting efforts.
When those pursuits occur, he thinks renovated Husky Stadium will be a big factor for recruits. Already calling it a “game-changer,” Sarkisian said the stadium was often a highlight for recruits this year.
An anticipated recruiting game-changer was Tosh Lupoi, who also coaches the defensive line. When Washington pried him – and recruits such as Shaq Thompson – away from Cal last season, the expectation was Lupoi’s recruiting savvy would bring a significant swing to Huskies recruiting. When asked Wednesday about which specific recruits can be attributed to Lupoi, Sarkisian said it was a team effort and chose not to single anyone out.
He also said he was pleased with the amount of specific targets the Huskies hit.
“This class was about quality, it wasn’t necessarily all about quantity,” Sarkisian firstname.lastname@example.org @Todd_Dybas blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports