If you are UW head coach Steve Sarkisian you have a lot on your plate right now. First of all you are trying to get USC ready for a bowl game, secondly you are trying to assemble a coaching staff, and finally you are making your best effort toward salvaging a recruiting class that was going nowhere under the past coaching staff.
Recruiting coming off an 0-12 season isn't exactly easy but being the new coach on the block is helping build some serious momentum for the new guy in charge. Look for a lot of new names from the Southern California area to pop up over the next couple of weeks that we haven't heard about yet. Also look for some interest from potential transfers from other programs to show interest in the new coaching staff.
One of the sad realities of recruiting is the new coach may take a second look at some of the kids Willingham received verbals from and suggest that they move in a different direction. Even though AD Scott Woodward told them all they would honor the scholarships offered things can change.
QB Dominique Blackman got the bad news last week and it is rumored that RB Demetrius Bronson may be in the same boat. Both failed to qualify last fall and with a new staff coming in they will probably be looking elsewhere.
Washington won't be bringing in anyone for official visits till after the first of the year. Sarkisian is way to busy with his responsibilities to get it done any sooner. UW traditionally has most of its class signed before New Years so you when they have to make the bulk of it up in January it is a true sign they are struggling.
Obviously when you bring in a new coach and staff you have your work cut out for you in bringing in that first class. Willingham's approach when he came here was to head to Hawaii to coach in an all star game and get some golf time in. Obviously Sarkisian's priorities are different.
Look for UW to take 18-22 players in the 2009 class depending on attrition.
California prep Keith Price is pretty much a lock. Price chose the school and not the coach so when Willingham was let go he let it be known that he probably was still going to attend Washington. That hasn't stopped schools like Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, and Arizona State from pursuing the fast rising prep star.
With last years QB recruit Dominique Blackman washing out, and Luther Leonard possibly being moved to a new position in the fall, this is truly a position of need. It isn't out of the realm of possibility for Sarkisian to bring in a transfer to help out the depth but with Jake Heaps in the wings that likely won't happen. It looks to me like Heaps is looking for reasons to stay home to play in front of family. Sarkisian met with him on campus his first weekend in Seattle so he is priority number one even though he is in the class of 2010.
Running Back (1)
Washington has put together quite a stable of young talent over the past two years. Depth isn't exactly a problem but you can always use some more talent. Rumors are floating around that Demetrius Bronson won't be joining the squad in January. Like Blackman the coach will possibly go another direction and keep his options open. Cameron Marshall from San Jose seems to be the top guy left on the board with interest in Washington but that could change once Sarkisian hits the SoCal recruiting trail.
Wide Receiver (1)
The Huskies brought in a lot of talent last season that should look better after a year of seasoning. Gino Simone who verballed to WSU this summer is an obvious target. He went in one year from being a fringe recruit to being the #1 recruit in the state. The kid is a real player and a priority get for Sarkisian.
Tight End (2)
Recruits Grant Cisneros and Marlion Barnett are both potential projects at the TE position. Cisneros is more of a true offensive lineman and Barnett seems to lack the size needed for the position even though he was highly recruited. Look for UW to try to bring in a JUCO guy to help out Kavario Middleton. Look for Barnett to start of at TE with a move to LB not out of the realm of possibility.
Offensive Line (4)
You always need a complete class at these positions. Hawaii's Stan Hasiak would be a great get and rumor is despite the commitment to UCLA the hiring of Jim Michalczik means we have a good shot at him. Kevin Danser from San Jose is another kid with high interest in UW. I am not sure if the interest is exactly reciprocal at this point. Look for UW to comb the JUCO ranks for at least one player here.
Defensive Line (4)
Deandre Coleman and Andrew Pulu were a couple of early commits that look good on paper. The problem with Coleman is he probably won't qualify and his senior film looks terrible. Tough to say if he is worthy of the attention he has received. Pulu on the other hand was more of a sleeper who impressed quite a few people with his play at Federal Way last season. Is he a big linebacker or an undersized defensive end?
Boseko Lokumbo is a great football name and the kid who moved to Abbotsford BC for his senior year after preping the year before in Oregon is one of the top targets in the Northwest. Jordan Barnett is another one to keep an eye on with Sarkisian in command. UW will go hard after Hawaian LB Simione Vehikite but so is UCLA, USC, and Cal. Michael Clay from San Jose is a big target but he hasn't shown much interest. That could change with the new coaching staff.
UW has built a lot of depth here but how many of these guys are true CB's. To me it looks like a bunch of converted safeties. Glenn and Gobern didn't play last season so maybe they will develop well. Look for UW to try to bring in a JC guy here to help with the growing pains. Keith Pinkard from Texas and Aaron Grymes from West Seattle have already verbaled. Grymes is a sleeper who was injured most of last season. He reminds most folks of Joe Jarzynka which isnt a bad thing.
UW is still trying to work Desmond Trufant and Nolan Washington. Trufant is more inclined to stay home but Kennedy's Washington verballed a week ago to WSU. Marcus Andrews from LA's Crenshaw HS would like to commit if Sarkisian and his staff are interested. UW also wouldn't pass on the right JUCO player at this position if they can find one.
Nathan Fellner from Fresno who is a nephew of Bo Cornell was an early commit. Fellner keeps visiting other schools to hedge his bet if Sarkisian isn't interested. Colorado's Alex Logan committed to California but look for Washington to try to get a visit out of him anyway. Logan's brother is a Husky receiver who could be moving to Safety himself. Perhaps the brother can visualize playing in the same defensive backfield together.
Washington needs a punter and a kicker this season to correct some big holes in special teams play. Look for these kids to possibly come from the JUCO ranks. We haven't heard any names yet but they will surface in coming weeks.
Quick Husky Notes:
Steve Sarkisian had a quick press gathering this afternoon to update the media on what is going on with the team.
Rocky Seto will be staying at USC after turning down the chance to become DC at UW.
Ex New Mexico coach Rocky Long now becomes the prime candidate for that position. Ron English from Louisville is reportedly not interested in the position and may try to become head coach at Eastern Michigan. You can also count out DeWayne Walker who didn't get the San Diego State job he applied for.
Jim Michalczik OC/OL, Demetrice Martin DB and Johnny Nansen DL/ST have all been officially named as UW assistants. No word on Charlie Camp who was reportedly hired as LB coach. That probably means they are waiting to see who the defensive coordinator is going to be so he has some input on the hire. All three of the new assistants flew out of town to recruit this morning.
Jared Blank was announced as the team's director of player personnel, a new position at UW but a job Blank has held at USC for the past year-and-a-half. Blank will essentially serve as a recruiting coordinator as the release states that his "role will center on administration of UW's recruiting efforts.'' Sarkisian describes Blank as a future NFL general manager which is high praise indeed.
Charr Gahagan of USC was hired as an assistant strength coach. He will assist Ivan Lewis who is already on the job.
Sarkisan says he should have more coaching announcements maybe by the end of the week. Things are heading in the right direction he says and there's a lot of buzz in the air - not just to coaches, but also to recruits.
Sarkisian commented that getting Jake Locker up to speed with a little QB 101 is a huge priority this off season. He says the entire team needs to fine tune what they are doing. One huge goal is to become bigger and faster as an overall team.
Steve Sarkisian is off to Hawaii this afternoon for a recruiting trip. He will be doing an in home with Simione Vehikite who we mentioned above. Expect him also to meet with Stan Hasiak while he is there.
The top recruit in the islands LB Punahou's Manti Te'o is another player Washington would like to get it's hands on but he hasn't shown a lot of interest since early this season. Most think he is a USC lock but with Sarkisian in the picture that could change. Dalton Hilliard who is a RB at Punahou may be another player Washington has a decent shot at.
Sarkisian will be on the road and in Southern California till January 2nd. The recruiting dead period starts after the 20th so he will devote a lot of time getting USC ready for the Rose Bowl.