Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The 2014 recruiting season is in its infancy, but there are already a number of prospects that will likely be top priorities for the Husky coaching staff in 2014.
Yes, the dust has just settled on signing day, but there is absolutely no sleep in the world of college football recruiting and the Husky staff made that clear as they hosted their junior day event last weekend, just a couple of days after the class of 2013 was signed. It will take a while before the Husky staff gets the bulk of their offers out there, the recruiting rankings get firmly ironed out and we truly know who is in play to join the Huskies in 2014, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a handful of prospects out there who are already labeled as the top targets for Sarkisian and his staff next recruiting season.
Budda Baker CB 5'10 175 Bellevue, WA
Baker will likely be the top guy on the Huskies recruiting board next year and is far and away the best prospect in the Northwest in 2014. Baker could play offense or defense and is one the most electrifying playmakers at a skill position to come out of the state of Washington in a while. The Huskies offered Baker very early and he will get the full court press from every program in the country, but early reports have suggested that he may be interested in staying home which has seemed to be a rarity with top recruits from Washington in recent years.
Chase Blakley TE 6'4 215 Couer d'Alene, ID
One of the top rated tight ends in the country and likely the highest rated player in the Northwest after Baker, Blakley is sure to be a big target for the Huskies, especially with Austin Seferian-Jenkins likely heading to the NFL after next season. Blakley is a pass-catching type tight end who needs to fill out a bit, but definitely is a guy who most of the schools in the Pac-12 will be going after. The good news is that the Huskies were the first major program to offer and Blakley has mentioned Washington as an early favorite.
Isaiah Brandt-Sims RB 6'0 180 Wenatchee, WA
Brandt-Sims just pulled in an early offer from the Huskies and has the kind of speed that is just too hard to ignore. A back-to-back 100 meter state champion, Brandt-Sims won state in 2012 with a blazing 10.6 second time. It's unlikely that the he will end up being a traditional running back in college, but he could make a huge impact in the return game immediately and the early offer has to firmly entrench the Huskies near the top of his list.
Brandon Dawkins QB 6'4 215 Westlake Village, CA
The Huskies have yet to extend an offer to a quarterback for the class of 2014, but Dawkins seems to fit the mold of athletic signal caller that Sarkisian covets and he will be one of the top quarterbacks on the West Coast. Expect Dawkins to be the first quarterback the Huskies offer and for them to make a push for an early commitment. He goes to Oaks Christian, the same high school that the Huskies signed Nick Montana from, though I don't know if that will be a good thing or a bad thing for the Huskies in his recruitment.
Devante Downs RB 6'3 215 Mountlake Terrace, WA
It seems like the West Coast has a lot of highly-rated hybrid athletes who could play a number of positions this year and Downs is dynamic enough that he could be a big back or a defensive or linebacker on defense in college. The Huskies got on Downs early with an offer and supposedly like him as a big back in the mold of LenDale White, but his recruitment is starting to take off and it looks like it will be will a battle for the Huskies to keep him home and away from other schools in the Pac-12.
Layth Friekh T 6'5 260 Peoria, AZ
The Huskies only signed three offensive linemen in 2013 so there will be massive pressure on Sarkisian and his staff to load up in 2014 and Friekh looks to be an early target who is reciprocating interest. Like many of the guys on the early board, Friekh is the teammate of a 2013 signee, Marcus Farria and made the trip up to Seattle for junior day. There isn't a lot of depth for offensive linemen in 2014 on the West Coast, so the Huskies will have to really battle for a guy like Friekh who is already racking up offers, but the fact that he came up to Seattle in February on his own dime is a great sign.
Rahshead Johnson WR 5'11 175 Long Beach, CA
Johnson made what I'm pretty sure is the earliest commitment ever to the Huskies when he committed last summer going into his junior year and the Jordan High School receiver looks like he will just as highly regarded as his former teammate and 2013 signee John Ross. The Huskies likely won't take more than one receiver in this class after taking three big time guys last year, so most of their receiver recruiting energy will be aimed at holding onto Johnson's commitment when other schools start offering.
Damien Mama T 6‘5 340 Bellflower, CA
Mama is the kind of massive offensive linemen that the Huskies have been lacking in recent seasons and like Friekh, he made it up for junior day on his own dime. Mama plays for St. John Bosco, where the Huskies nearly pulled tackle Nico Falah from in 2013 and where they landed Keith Price from years ago. Though it is a good sign that he has already made it up to Seattle, unfortunately it sounds likes BYU is already an early leader for his signature.
Kaleb McGary T 6'6 270 Tacoma, WA
McGary is neck-and-neck with Downs as the second-most coveted guy out of Washington for the class of 2014, and for good reason, as he is an athletic, left tackle-type of offensive lineman who can move. McGary was at a number of the Husky home games and it sounds like the Huskies might have the inside track in his recruitment despite his stock blowing up with a number of Pac-12 offers rolling in.
Joe Mixon RB 6'1 195 Oakley, CA
It's not a strong year for running backs in California this year and Mixon looks like he could be the only one to generate serious buzz. The tall, speedy prospect is already a highly-coveted prospect with offers from program like Michigan, Georgia and Oklahoma, among others, but it sounds like the Huskies have gotten off to a great start with him. A teammate of 2014 signee Darrell Daniels, Mixon has had nothing but good things to say about Washington.
Ainuu Taua DT 6'1 270 Lompoc, CA
Taua already looks like one of the best defensive linemen in the country and is a shorter, athletic nose guard type that fits in the mold of Danny Shelton. Yet again, another 2013 signee teammate, Taua played with Lavon Coleman and is an even bigger prospect than the four-star running back. It will be a major battle for the Huskies as they will likely have to fight it out with major programs from all around the country, but hopefully Coleman can help.