Huskies Insider Blog

Chris Petersen excited about first UW signing day

Chris Petersen seemed excited about some of the OKGs (Our Kind of Guys) he has spoken of so often when referring to his first recruiting class at the University of Washington.

Petersen couldn't hold his extreme excitement for signing Bellevue's Budda Baker very well. He said Baker is a need in the secondary with the loss of so many players from that position and is looking forward to him seeing immediate playing time. Baker might also get some looks in a couple offensive packages and in the return game as he gains more experience.

Petersen touted his in-state recruits, signing six in total, saying that recruiting in-state players should be a priority, making them the soul of the team.

Another interesting note was on Fife's Kaleb McGary. He will start on the defensive line, even tough most coaches were recruting him to be an elite offensive tackle. Petersen said he asked McGary what side of the ball he preferred and McGary's answer was defense. But Petersen didn't rule out McGary switching to offense if that doesn't work out.

Here is most of the rest of what he had to say during his Wednesday press conference:

I appreciate you being there. What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be downtown? I almost didn’t come but then I thought I needed to show up to the one or two of you who would be here. to talk about washington football.. What a great day for Seattle. Awesome for the Seahawks, our hats off to those guys, we are so excited for them,the city and also for the new Huskies that will come our way in the next few months. We talk about recruiting here, the coaches we have recruiting here are fantastic. They are really good football coaches really good recruiters in the right way and even better people. That’s the first thing that gets overshadowed in this recruiting. Everyone wants to talk about the kids, but it really starts with the staff which is going to take care of them and coach them. and Those guys are phenomenal. our operations team, everyone in there.

Secondly, the 24 guys we signed we are thrilled with. We had to work fast, everyone of these guys we liked and had something we thought they really bring to the table. We signed six kids from Washington, which was really important for us to keep the best players here in the state. We hope to continue that. Nine guys on offense a specialist who will be as important as anyone we have and about 14 guys on defense. So we are excited about these guys.

Were you already familiar before coming to UW with all these guys that signed?

I would probably say 95 percent we had some level of knowledge and some guys obviously a lot more than others. There might have been one or two that we stumbled onto them. But the footprint of recruiting where I came from was really the same that was being done at Washington. We were bumping into most of the Pac-12 schools so we were really familiar with these guys.

Sentence on each signee…

I think we start with the Washington kids. We were really excited to keep Budda here at home. The second we got here, he’s all we heard about. Of course I knew about him when I was at Boise. I think he’s a fabulous player and what I’m really excited about is that I think he is every bit as good, if not a better person. I think that’s where it starts and stops right there. We talk about those OKGs, I think this is one of them, he’ll be wearing that right across his T-shirt.

I’m excited about Kaleb McGary, he can play either side of the ball, but I think we’ll start him on defense, I think that’s where he wants to test the water and I think that’s where he fits best.

Drew Sample a local tight end, we had him in our camp at Boise. We really thought he was a good player.

Shane Bowman our defensive end from Bellevue, I think he’s going to bleed purple and gold. He is a blue collar, tough guy and I think that’s exactly what we need on that D-line.

Drew Lewis, we only took one backer in this class. Very athletic, can play safety but we like to start with that athleticism at linebacker position.

Jaimie Bryant is a guy we are going to start on defense and kind of go from there. I know he was out last year, we are going to give him some time in spring.

I’m excited about all those Washington guys.

KJ Carta-Samuels really feel great about him. I’ve known about him for a long time, was committed to Vanderbilt forever, but when these crazy coaches change jobs it just blows everything up. So that’s good for guys, but sometimes it’s not so good. It was certainly good for the Huskies. I just think he’s got a tremendous amount of potential there, and we are excited to work with him. He can run, is big, physical, can throw, strong and I think there is a lot there and we are excited to get him on our offense.

Jomon Dobson (running back) is really fast. Has breakaway speed. And I think he’s going to do some good things.

Dante Pettis. We coached his cousin, Austin Pettis, at Boise. He may be the best receiver I’ve been around. When I watched his tape way back when I was trying not to project AUstin onto Dante. There were a lot of similarities. Austin would probably dispute this, but Dante was probably the stronger highschool player.

Brayden Lenius (wide receiver) is tall, strong he is legitimately 6-5, 220 pounds and he’s a wide receiver. Originally from Canada, came down to play high school ball in Southern California, had to miss some games because of transfer rules. So he hasn’t played a whole bunch down there. I’m really excited about his potential.

Got some linemen. Matt James. We had him in our Boise camp. You want to talk about another OKG, when we had him, I was dying to get him. I think he was very interested in the education part of things at Washington. he’s a fabulous student, an o-lineman with a ton of upside. I wish they were all wrestlers, then we’d have a really tough kid.

Jesse Sosebee, another guy from California we had been recruiting for a long time. Legitimately 6-5, over 300 pounds, athletic. Another guy we are excited about.

John Turner from Loyola. Big offensive lineman. May play guard, may play center, was an offensive tackle, he was a quarterback three years ago so he’s got a little bit of athleticism in him, we are still growing him and we like his potential.

Devon Burleson might be the tallest player I think i’ve ever been around. Close to 6-8, if not right there. Basketball player, started playing football past couple years. Upside we think is very good.

On the defensive side Will Dissly, out of Bozeman. Great kid, another kid we had in our camp and got to look at first hand. Really good student and could be a tight end. He’s athletic, but we are going to start him on defense and see how he goes.

Greg Gaines (Defensive Line). Some of these guys I got to kind of back up because coming over here everyone is into this star-rating thing. I’m just kind of blown away. I don’t know how you give kids stars and how some other kids don’t get stars. I know Greg Gaines is a guy who shut down his recruiting extremely early when we got him at Boise. Then he decided to come here. He had everybody in the country calling him. I know had he taken some of those visits all of the sudden his stars change. That’s what I say about Greg. I think he is the ultimate inside, guy, he’s tough, athletic, they played him at running back in short-yardage situations.

Jaylen Johnson (defensive line). We may have been on him longer than anyone on this list, but he’s from Centennial. Awesome player. We were recruiting him forever. He committed to us way back and we were just hoping to be able to hold onto him. We spent so much time on him at Boise that when we got over here, I didn’t know how that was going to fly. We got him up here and his mom and they really liked the university and the area and again I think he is going to be a fabulous player.

Kaleb (McGary) will start on defense. He may be that big-time defensive end, he may be an inside guy, he may be an unbelievably offensive tackle. I just know he’s something. He’s a football player.

Drew Lewis is an athletic linebacker

Our DBs. We were a little shy on the numbers so we had to load up there.

Darrin Gardenhire is a guy that can probably start at corner. I believe coach Lake wants him there, but I believe he can play either side.

Naijiel Hale, again, Southern California, St. John Bosco, a great program, extremely high level of football. he’s a tremendous competitor, really tough guy, plays with a chip on his shoulder. We are excited to get him.

Sidney Jones. A guy that kind of came onto us late. A big, tall corner. Very athletic that we think his upside is going to be tremendous.

Brandon Lewis is a guy we had been on for a long time at Boise. Great, great student, extremely high academics. He had just been injured, so he missed a lot of time. Had he not done that, I think he would have been pursued by a lot of people. We kind of had him committed early so that was good.

Jojo McIntosh. ONe of my favorite guys. Was in our camp last summer and coach Lake and I were jumping up and down. We had a lot of kids in our camp and we were excited about him as anybody who was at the camp. He’s a safety who covered like a corner for us. Really tough. Really competed, just like you like those competitors to compete. He’s going to be very interesting getting here.

Lavon Washington was a guy who committed to here for a long time. He stuck to him commitment. Athletic guy.

Oh Budda Baker. Can’t wait to see what he can do for the Huskies. We really feel good about all these guys though. There wouldn’t be a guy on this list we were taking just to take. These scholarships are like gold to us they really, coaches did a good job of putting this roster together quickly and filling our needs. We can’t wait to get them here.

Oh yes. Tristan Vizcaino. He might be the most important guy in this class, and I mean that sincerely. It’s all fun and games until that kicker goes out to kick that field goal or a punt six or seven times, hopefully not at all, but we probably will need to punt. He is a guy who can do it all, he can punt, kick field goals, and we expect him to come in and compete right away. He’s athletic, we are always kind of nervous about the kicker guys. We want them to be athletes, we want them to be competitors, and we really think he is that.

Anything that has stuck out as surprising or trying these past two months?

I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I would say I’m not surprised about anything, and then I’m always surprised. I think that’s why I keep doing the job. I think the thing that was so comforting, we really kind of rolled with it, but we’ve been doing this for a while, but what was comforting was the staff that’s here. I’ve been with them, and the guys that I haven’t been with that either stayed on that we were able to retain, just true professionals, the rest of the guys just kind of know our deal. And they hit the ground running. We covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time. I think we were able to do that because of this place. A lot of other places, this list (of players) is not going to look like this. But I think the university sells itself, the facilities, I think where this program is headed, I think all those things, people are feeling that. I think the Seahawks thing is awesome. you get 700,000 people down there, in a parade. Are you kidding me? I think that’s awesome. So you can tell they like football and winning football. If we put those two together, hopefully a few of those 700,000 people will come down to Husky Stadium and help us out here.

Was the difference real, being here compared to Boise State?

I don’t think the process was different. I really dont’. Were we able to get in and get some guys that we probably wouldn’t have been able to get a year ago? Absolutely. No question. That’s one of the reasons I’m here. I’m all about this university academically, I’m all about this conference, and most important i’m about Washington and what this place stands for and I think what we can do.

Because of the timeline, did you have to press a little more? Get more creative?

I kind of think about recruiting a lot like the football season and how we do it. You just have to take it one day at a time, what’s on the agenda, and how hard can we go. I do think that though. I think there was some really good intensity. And boy, if we can keep this kind of recruiting intensity up all year long to this place, I’m really excited about the future because it was very intense for two months. And I feel great about it.

On balancing act respecting Boise State, while still getting the guys you want?

Very awkward. When I left there, I went to talk to the AD and the head coach, and I said, “I just really don't’ want this to be weird. but that’s how this thing goes. Kids get committed to coaches. THat’s what they do. THey call you and say coach I want to come with you. So this first year was going to be awkward, there was no way around it. ANd I do have tremendous respect for that place and they are going to be just fine. But this first year, with kids I had been talking to for so long, they get tied into the coaches. And that’s a tough situation. I’ve been through it on the other end when coach Hawkins went to Colorado. YOu are really glad because those guys are your friends and you have so much respect for that university you are glad when this is over so everyone can just kind of go their own way and not have any crossover.

On reaction to Budda Baker…

We were excited. We were really excited. In so many different ways excited. We were so thrilled because you never know on this recruiting thing, but you are playing the odds. And all the things he is all about, starting with the type of person. Every person that’s high school coaches, and everyone who is involved says the same thing, just talks about what kind of person he is. I can see tape, that is pretty easy to see what type of player he is. So the combination of that it was just… then coupled with our need in the secondary, it was just like… this is the guy. And what he means to this whole community is just awesome.

He is so explosive with the ball. You watch him over there on this tape and you go, we have to figure out ways to get him the ball. Fortunately the one thing that I get to coach around here is the kick returners. So the better that guy is, I don’t know how much coaching there is except catch it and go fast, that’s usually my coaching orders, but it might be a little bit more involved than that. So we will get him going there and then we kind of told him, we don’t want to make you a Jack of all Trades master now. We want to start you somewhere, get you dialed in there, get your feet on the ground then we can expand. We will take this one step at a time. We need him on defense in the worst way right now.

On how much a name like Budda Baker affects future recruiting…

I think Buddha, Shane, Drew, Drew Lewis, Kaleb, everyone knows those names in the state, sof for these really good players to stay here, says something about this place. I’m hoping all those young high school players are seeing that and saying, those are really good guys, that’s a good place for them, maybe I better start thinking really serious about going there as well.

Finding specialist in Tristan, is that what you did at Boise as well, a guy who can do it all?

You like that for one guy to do it all. But it is hard for one guy to do it all. Travis (Coons) did it this year for Washington and man, my hat is off to him. The fans and the people don’t realize how important that is and how hard. Hopefully Tristan is not doing all three, but he has the capability to do all three. THe thing that is nice is he does do it all, we’ll figure out where he is best.

On focus on offense and defensive lines…

Well, absolutely. You are always even projecting ahead. IN an ideal world. you’d like to always be ahead. You aren’t even recruiting for this year. Nobody lives in an ideal world in college football. For the o-line situation, we had five seniors coming back so the next year, then what? It takes a while to develop those guys, so we needed to get some in this class, to get some things done in the future.

On balance in height of receivers. Is that what he is looking for?

If we could get eight Megatrons, 6 guys who just run, we’d take them. But it’s hard to get those guys so you are just kind of mixing and matching the group. Sometimes you get guys who are jitterbugs, can take bubble screens, then bigger guys seam guys. You Are just really at the end of the day looking for guys who are extremely productive, good with the ball in their hands, have some athleticism, we are always looking for speed, so they have to bring that to the table. Then we will place them where we think is the right spot on the field.

How important was getting a quarterback in this class?

I think really important. I think four guys, that’s scary. You are always trying to develop a guy and you never know who is going to pan out and who doesn't. That’s an interesting situation because if you go through the cycle and you have five quarterbacks on your roster, one in each class, it gets crowded and tough. We’ve not done that and done that but I think my preference is to probably always do that because you just don’t know how they are going to pan out and develop. You need to get one, nice to have two, who can really, really play. I think we will have one in every class.

On McGary being on the defensive line…

I think everybody was projecting him to play offense. He is a pretty good defensive player. I learned this a long time ago that I think if a kid feels very strongly about a position or one side of the ball, you really need to give him a chance to go compete there because that is where his heart is. I was one of those guys that was always trying to get moved. Nobody wanted me to play quarterback because I was too short, too small. So I learned that. You just have to give kids a chance to do that. But he does have ability to play defense. SO we will start there. I don’t think he is married into the defensive side, everybody else was recruiting him for offense, everybody. So I think Kaleb is going to be good at either side. But we told him all along, if you want to start on one side or the other, we’re good. We think you are good enough to give you a shot either way.

I asked him if he had a preference, what side would it be. He said he’s always like defense, so we said we can start you there and see how that goes. If that doesn't’ work out I think you are a big time left tackle.

Probably half of these guys will play for us in the fall.

What were your need spots…

Secondary for sure and the defensive line as well. I think the kicking game, we’ll see about the receiver position. I want all these guys to truly come in here and compete. ANd I promise you, if we get a guy in here and he is truly better than what we have they are playing. We have to live in the here and know. So all of these guys need to come in here to compete, to play. That needs to be their mentality. Then if the need isn’t there or they aren’t ready to play, we will pull back accordingly. But I want all these guys showing up and saying I’m playing this year.

How was this on you…

I’m getting my path from where I live to here down pretty good. Half the time I was getting lost and now i'm not, so that’s good. I didn't get a flat tire like i did last week.So that is pisitiove. Then all the guys we were counting on signing did sign. It was a good day. At this point I think you go through this so much with these guys that it is fun to kind of wait around the fax machine or the computer when they are emailing their NLIs back. But I’ve never had much anxiety on this day. I just feel like these kids have given us their word and if they are the OKG we like, then they are going to come through and if not, they weren't the guy we thought they were going to be. Really, it’s worked out for us pretty well every year.

On dynamic recruiting at Washington and Pac-12 to last year at Boise…

I think this university and this place has so much to offer. So I think the type of kid we will be able to attract may be the next-level type guy. That might be the four and five star guy. Whatever you guys’ stars are. But the process is exactly the same. and I love the process we’ve had the past five years. It’s about finding the guys we want to fit and the guys we are about culture wise. We are still going to be about developing guys. I don’t care what they’ve done in high school, we need to help develop their potential. and that’s what we've been good at in the past. A few years ago we were the 70th ranked class in the country and that class had eight guys go to the NFL. So that’s why I chuckle at this whole ranking thing. Our coaches have been good at making our own opinions and not getting hung up in that stuff. Just does this guy fit, are his best years ahead and is he a football guy who wants to be coached like an eighth-grader. If it’s yes, yes and yes then we want them to come here.

Anybody made you sweat a little today…

Some guys have a hard time figuring out how to use a fax machine, but I can’t really grow too many stones at those guys because I don’t think I can fax anything either. It was actually pretty smooth. There were  a couple of guys who were a little late, doing their signing thing late and one fax machine, we got the copies upside down, so they were blank, and the date was wrong so we had to redo it, just some of those things.

If you can have 2 months to do this, what can you do in a year?

I am really excited about that, to have a full year, nobody likes to have to go that fast. Luckily we had a lot of relationships before. But to really start from scratch and do this thing how it’s supposed to be done. It will just have a different feel. It won’t feel so frantic. Even though I think it turned out really, really well, there was some tough sledding in those two months.

I’ve spent my whole life recruiting in this area and Texas. so we know what’s there.

On Washington state recruits, developing relationships with programs around here…

I’ve always had a lot of respect for programs around here in washington. That was one of the things that bothered me a little bit at Boise is I don’t think we got enough Washington guys. I thought there was good players here who were really well coached and for whatever reason we would always have one or two and they would always turn out to be really good players. I always thought there was more here. I Think the high school coaching here is really good, i think there is a lot of talent and I think the heart and soul of this thing needs to start right here in this area and this state. I think we got off to a good start this year and I’m hoping that trend continues.

Did you accomplish everything you were hoping to in two months?

I think we were very pleased with this list. The credit goes, this is how it always is, the coach comes up here on recruiting day and you all feel good about things, and it’s all him. But this is very little me and very much all those other guys who were flying all over the country and back and forth and I can’t say enough great things about how these guys did. It’s  a fine line between selling this though. We don’t want to be salesmen, we want to get the right guys to this place and we want to know if they are really all the nice things that we think they are. Sometimes in the recruiting approach, I’ll say some things and they will look at me and say ‘Are you really going to say that?’ But I want them to know what they are getting themselves into. I think these kids do and I think we are excited to coach them here.

On walk-ons…

We had a good thing going on at Boise. The guys who walked on were treated the same as scholarship guys. If a kid is going to walk on here we think he can bring tremendous value. We are hoping he can get in the mix somehow, someway. And when he does, he usually earns a scholarship. That has happened for years over at Boise. I think there is a lot of good guys who get missed.

Family trying to move to Seattle?

My family is not coming until the end of the year so my son can finish school. But everyday I get a little more comfortable here.

Next month schedule?

We just came out of a football meeting and it was so nice to be in there and talk Xs and Os. Now we will be moving to the next phase. Recruiting for next year starts tomorrow and away we go.