When MJ Ale committed to Washington back in August, he appreciated the program’s vision for the future.
Four months later, Ale still likes what he sees and with good reason. UW is building one of the best recruiting classes in college football in the 2018 cycle. Rivals considers UW’s haul to be 10th nationally while 247 places the group 11th.
The Huskies signed 18 players Wednesday, which was the first day of the new early signing period. A day later, four-star cornerback Kyler Gordon announced on KING-5 he was signing with UW over Notre Dame.
“It’s really special. I committed to this class a little early on, so, I had the privilege of seeing everyone else come together and see all the pieces fall into their spots,” Ale told The News Tribune. “I think with everyone we’ve been able to get and the talent we’ve been able to get, I think we’re in a good spot.
“I am looking forward to it. It’s an honor to be a part of it.”
UW didn’t add any additional signees Friday, the final day of the early period. It means the Huskies will have to wait until mid-January to restart recruiting should they add more players Feb. 7 on National Signing Day.
Huskies coach Chris Petersen said Wednesday the class was about “85 to 90 percent” finished with the hopes of adding one or two more players. Although UW added Gordon there’s still a chance Petersen and his staff could do a bit of shopping.
In all, the class has nine four-star prospects and is already the best crop UW has signed in the modern recruiting era.
The Huskies have depth at several spots including offensive line. Ale, who starred at Fife, is one of four linemen in the class.
At 6-foot-6 and 361 pounds, Ale is a physical marvel. He possesses athleticism, quickness and size.
“I mean that O-line, on offense, it starts with those guys,” Petersen said. “I think its a unique crew as well. MJ, he is an impressive-looking individual. An impressive individual.”
UW achieved a number of things with its class.
For starters, UW was particular about the number of scholarship offers it issued to players. UW handed out 86 offers, according to data obtained by 247 Sports.
Auburn, which is 10th in the 247 rankings, handed out 212 offers. Michigan’s 11th-ranked class made 241 offers and Oregon, the No. 2 class in the Pac-12, threw out 261 offers.
“I think we take pride in being one of the team’s that offers the least amount of scholarships because we’re not just throwing a bunch of offers out,” Petersen said. “We’re going to go do our research and figure out who fits us and it’s going to mean something when it comes from Washington.”
UW’s narrowed approach still led to the team adding several options at linebacker, offensive line, quarterback and receiver.
Petersen and his assistants asserted themselves by signing the at least one of the Top 5 prospects in the states of Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
And above all, the Huskies once again won key recruiting battles within the state. UW signed five of the state’s Top 10 players.
That group includes Ale and Emerald Ridge defensive end Mosiah Nasili-Liu.
“It’s definitely a big deal when you get to represent your home state team,” Ale said. “From my own personal experience, I go to school and I see people coming in and they wear with pride – the purple and gold – knowing its their home state team.
“It’s something people look at, something they consider knowing they can stay close to home.”
Recruiting such a strong class plus having several returning starters makes UW something of a favorite for next year’s College Football Playoff.
Petersen said he expects some members of his class to play right away while others develop.
As for Ale, he’s not trying to get starstruck by the recruiting rankings. But he is eager to show what his class is capable of achieving.
“At the end of the day, these rankings are just rankings,” Ale said. “When we get to work, people will truly start seeing just dominant of a class we are and we can become.”
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark