There's just 23 days left until Signing Day, aka Christmas for recruiting fanatics. I've been planning on putting together an article looking at the class as it's currently composed, but the inimitable Bob Condotta beat me to the punch and published a great overview this weekend that he expanded upon further in his blog. He talked with Mason Kelley of ESPN and Jake Worthen of Scout.com - two guys who cover recruiting for a living and have a good pulse on where the Huskies stand. Just to recap, here's a list of the current commits (courtesy of Scout.com).
From Bob's blog, here are some choice quotes about the class as a whole - first from Kelley:
This is a very good class. They’ve addressed a lot of different needs at a lot of different positions.
And here's Worthen's take:
As it stands, Washington has the No. 11 class in the country which I think fans have to be ecstatic about. It would be their best class in the last couple of years if things stood where they are now.
As Jake notes, the class currently rates #11 in Scout's system, and Rivals has them there as well. ESPN rates them 19th, but they tend to be biased towards the Southeast in terms of player ratings.
So basically, if the Huskies hold on to everyone currently committed, they're looking at probably the best class of the Sark era, and the best class since the 2001 group headlined by Reggie Williams, Charles Frederick, Kai Ellis, Joe Toledo and others. If they can land some of the remaining big targets on their list, this class could end up rivaling the best they've ever landed. Of particular note is the collective talent of the current DL commits.
One of the impressive things about this class is the balance. Here's the breakdown:
1 QB, 1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR, 2 OL, 3 DT, 3 DE, 3 LB, 2 CB, 1 S, 1 K
The one hole currently is OL; they will want at least one more, and possibly two if they can get the right guys. But they could also potentially move 1-2 of their current DL commits over to the OL, as both Jamie Bryant and Andrew Basham have that potential. Bryant is probably the more likely of the two to move. They'd also like to get one more safety, preferably a cover-type of guy to pair with current commit Trevor Walker who is stronger in run-support.
On the other side of the coin, the DL class is stacked and brimming with talent, and the defensive recruits overall are very exciting. Here's Kelley again:
They’ve done a fantastic job on defense with guys like Joe Mathis, Trevor Walker. Azeem Victor, a linebacker who flew under the radar but sounds like he could be a very good linebacker for them. And their latest commit, Jermaine Kelly. He’s another kid who was kind off under the radar a little bit but he has that great size that Washington likes in their defensive backs. Guys like Elijah Qualls, who played really well in the Semper Fidelis Game. Daeshon Hall is another really good player on defense. So you look at the guys that Washington has brought in on defense and they’ve really addressed every position really well I think. The defensive line is probably where theye are strongest right now, linebacker looks pretty good. Even in the defensive backs with two corners and a safety they have addressed a lot of needs.
Beyond that, they are basically in a mode of cherry-picking premium talent; they don't need another stud DT or LB, but if they can get them, they'll make room.
Speaking of which, here are the main targets still on the board:
- Eddie Vanderdoes - Stud DT is down to UCLA, USC, Washington & Notre Dame. The current buzz is that the strength of the Bruin baseball program is helping sway him toward UCLA (he hopes to play both sports in college). There's still time for his preferences to change, and he has his official visits to USC & Notre Dame coming up. With Tosh making him a top priority, the UW isn't out of it, but they are not currently the favorites to get him.
- Reuben Foster - Generally considered the top MLB prospect in the country. Landing a player of his caliber out of SEC territory would be unprecedented for Washington, but they are giving it their best shot and he's strongly considering the Huskies. I noted this in another comment thread, but my read (based off his comments) is that if all other things were equal, he'd sign with the UW. But the proximity of Alabama & Georgia may be too much to overcome. We'll see - this will likely come down to the wire.
- Patrick Enewally - Another big-bodied DB in the mold of what Wilcox likes, Enewally would likely fill that cover safety role still needed in this class. The read is that he's still very high on Washington and is likely to commit to the Dawgs.
- Nico Falah - The USC commit is still keeping his options open; the Trojans reportedly are hot after JC OL Desmond Harrison, and if they get him, that might push Falah to the Huskies. He has his official visit to USC this weekend; if he's still talking about talking an unofficial visit up to the UW with his family later in the month, that will be a great sign for the Huskies. If not, he's probably sticking with the Trojans, unless they pull his offer at the last minute due to a numbers crunch.
- Aaron Cochran - The massive OT prospect hasn't yet scheduled an official visit with the UW; whether that's because he's not that interested or because the UW is feeling good about their chances with some other guys, it's hard to say. Until they get a visit though, there's no chance of getting him.
- Maurice Swain - Another kid from Georgia, Swain is a guy who projects on either side of the LOS, but is probably being targeted as an OT by the UW. Sounds like he had a great time on his trip out here, and there's a small chance he, Foster and Joe Sanders could wind up a package deal for the Huskies which would be an amazing coup. He'll be announcing on Signing Day.
- Joe Sanders - The third of the three guys the UW tripped from the deep South this past weekend, Sanders is another guy with the frame to play either DL or OL. He's also saying good things about his visit, and while it's probably long odds to pull these guys out of SEC territory, don't count out Tosh & Sirmon working some magic. The fact that the three (Foster, Swain & Sanders) are tight, and that the UW has a real need for OL are working in their favor. Getting one guy to move across the country would be tough, but if they all decide to do it, they provide support for each other. It'd make for a terrific story if the Huskies can pull it off, something that would be sure to catch the attention of folks around the country.
- Kylie Fitts - By this point I think everyone's heard about the stunt USC pulled on him. But don't be surprised if he still ends up there, as they have been his lifelong dream school. If not, the UW is an option as he really enjoyed his visit here this fall, but the buzz is UCLA is probably in better shape to snag him if he decides USC is out.
- Myles Jack - What was considered a 2-horse race between UCLA & UW may now have expanded to 4 teams, with ASU entering the mix in a big way after his official visit there this past weekend and a visit to Oregon just before Signing Day. Worthen has been saying for a while now to watch out for Oregon getting into the mix, and it sounds like ASU made a huge impression on him. I hadn't realized before, but apparently both of his parents are ASU alums. Update: Jack has apparently cancelled the visit to Oregon and will be visiting Florida State that weekend instead.
- Danny Mattingly - The big TE/DE prospect committed to Oregon before Christmas, but it appears Husky coaches aren't giving up on pursuing him (Tui was recruiting Mattingly while at UCLA).
There are others that may still be on the UW's radar, but at this point those are the most likely high-level candidates that are still considered to be serious about Washington.
With the current commit list numbering 21 and the Huskies still in hot pursuit of the above guys, it sure seems like they are potentially looking at a class of 25 or more players. A few of them will count against the 2012 class (Troy Williams & Trevor Walker have already enrolled, and Cameron Van Winkle is expected for Spring Quarter) so they probably won't have a problem fitting under the 25 per year limit. The bigger issue is the 85 total scholarships limit.
By my count, there are only 10 scholarships opening up from players graduating. I believe the Huskies were at the 85-man limit this season, so if my count is correct, for every player signed beyond 10, a current player will have to be removed from the roster, whether it be injury retirements or transfers. We've already seen the beginnings of that as James Sample and Blake Rodgers have announced they are leaving; many more will have to happen to fit all of these new recruits.
The other factor is admissions - some of these current commits are grade risks. There's going to be some coaches sweating up through Fall camp as they try to get everyone cleared by the NCAA. I don't feel comfortable getting into naming names in a public setting, but there are at least 5 guys known to be risks to not make it in.
And finally, anyone that follows recruiting knows that no commitment is really, fully 100% until that LOI comes through the fax machine. There are still a few guys on the current commit list that are planning on taking visits elsewhere. All of them are expected to stick with the Huskies, and a few that had talked about taking visits have cancelled those plans (Elijah Qualls being one) - you might see more of that as we get closer to Signing Day and Sark attempts to lock guys in. But just like Sark & crew hope to flip some guys currently committed elsewhere, you can be sure other staffs are doing their best to flip Sark's recruits.
So settle in for what could be a roller-coaster finish to this recruiting class.