While you might think that Chris Petersen and the coaching staff would be taking a breather with football Signing Day 2014 come and gone, think again - Washington is hosting a Junior Day this weekend, and several of the state's top prospects are expected to attend, as well as a few from out of state. Recruiting is truly a year-round affair, and the better prospects out there have had coaching staffs talking with them since they were sophomores in high school (if not sooner in a few cases).
Early indications are that the in-state crop for 2015 will be deeper and more talented than this year, and it features a generous number of Pac-12 caliber linemen - music to the ears of traditionalist Husky fans I'm sure. Here's a list of the kids rated 3 stars or higher by Scout.com or Rivals.com:
- QB Brett Rypien, Shadle Park H.S., Spokane, WA - consensus 4 stars; the nephew of former Cougar QB (and Super Bowl MVP) Mark Rypien, as well as Chris and Pete Tormey
- RB Austin Joyner, Marysville-Pilchuck H.S., Marysville, WA - consensus 4 stars; committed to Washington back in November, but opened things up when Sark left; still considered a heavy lean to Washington; could potentially play DB at the college level as well as RB
- OL Henry Roberts, Bellevue H.S., Bellevue, WA - 4 stars Scout/3 stars Rivals; might be the best Bellevue lineman since David DeCastro and already sports a significant offer list including USC, UCLA and Oregon
- RB Myles Gaskin, O'Dea H.S., Seattle, WA - 4 stars Scout/3 stars Rivals; an impressive RB, runs bigger than his size and is very physical
- RB Chico McClatcher, Federal Way H.S., Federal Way, WA - 4 stars Scout/3 stars Rivals; a smaller back nicknamed the "Blue Mamba", he's very quick and a big-time playmaker; he may project as more of a slot WR at the next level, and might also fit at CB
- DL Benning Potoa'e, Lakes H.S., Lakewood, WA - 3 stars Scout/4 stars Rivals; the younger brother of former Husky DT Sione Potoa'e is leaner and projects more as a DE than DT at this point
- OL Trey Adams, Wenatchee H.S., Wenatchee, WA - consensus 3 stars; Adams is one of the earliest ever Husky commits, pulling the trigger when offered at their Rising Stars camp this past July; he remains committed despite the coaching change, but will have a lot of other programs pursue him - Oregon just offered
- QB Ross Bowers, Bothell H.S., Bothell, WA - consensus 3 stars; Bowers has a strong connection to the school - his mother Joanne is the Women's Gymnastics Head Coach
- WR Justice Murphy, Evergreen H.S., Vancouver, WA - consensus 3 stars; Murphy has good size at 6'1" and projects at either WR or DB; growing up in Vancouver, his allegiances are towards Oregon over Washington at this point
- OL Calvin Throckmorton, Newport H.S., Bellevue, WA - consensus 3 stars; he's only played OL for a year, but has very high upside; he just received an offer from Oregon and could end up nearly as coveted as Roberts
- LB Mustafa Branch, Bellevue H.S., Bellevue, WA - consensus 3 stars; he was hurt much of the past year, but he's got the ability to garner a lot of interest with a strong camp circuit this summer; he projects at this point more as an outside guy, but he's still growing; a terrific student, he already has an offer from Northwestern
- TE Erik Rottsalk, Lakeside H.S., Seattle, WA - 3 stars Rivals; a big kid at 6'6", 235lbs, still relatively new to football but had a good year in 2013; he could also project at DE, or potentially OT depending on how much he fills out
- LB Cameron Saffle, Skyline H.S., Sammamish, WA - 3 stars Rivals; a big LB already at nearly 6'4", 230 lbs; he's coming off a knee injury as a sophomore which slowed his recruiting, but he's got the measurables that coaches love and could quickly see his offer list take off
- DL Cody Baker, Eastside Catholic H.S., Bellevue, WA - 3 stars Rivals; Baker visited during last year's "Underclass Day" as a sophomore, indicating a strong interest level from the previous staff; depending on how much he grows, he could end up projecting better as more of a 5T or 3T than an outside rusher
Note: DT Thomas Toki, a 4-star prospect currently committed to WSU is moving out of state; formerly at Juanita, he'll play his senior year at St. Francis H.S. in Mountain View, CA. The Cougars will have a real battle on their hands to keep him in the fold.
Out of state, the Huskies are certain to pursue a number of top California prospects. DT Jacob Daniel out of Fresno, CA was an early commit to the Huskies before opening things up after Sark left, though he made clear he still has a strong interest in the Huskies. He's a big-time DT prospect with a huge offer sheet - pulling him would be a massive coup for Petersen. QB Jake Browning out of Folsom, CA is someone Petersen was targeting while at Boise State and figures to be one of the top QB prospects on his board. WR Malik Lovette is from Redlands East Valley which has proven to be quite a pipeline in recent years to Washington; he has a growing list of offers and figures to be one of Petersen's top WR targets. OL Zach Okun out of Newbury Park is a national caliber recruit and has already taken an unofficial visit to Husky Stadium, having survived the monsoon game this past September vs. Arizona. One of the top prospects in the state is DE Keisean Lucier-South out of Orange, CA, but Boise State and Petersen were the first to offer (followed by Sark & Washington) and he's expressed interest in visiting. Another DE was an early commit to the Huskies from their rising stars camp before deciding to open things back up - Joseph Wicker out of Long Beach. It remains to be seen if Petersen is pursuing him or if Wicker retains interest in the Huskies. Marvell Tell out of Encino is one of the top S prospects in the country; a tall, extremely athletic kid, he's planning to visit WSU in March - it will be interesting to see if Petersen can talk him into coming by Washington on his way through SeaTac. CB Iman Marshall out of Long Beach is also one of the top prospects in the country, and while he has an offer from nearly all the big-time programs, his value system - honesty and terrific academics - gives Petersen a shot at him. Another top CB out of the state is Kanya Bell from Diamond Bar; the 4-star recruit was already expressing interest in visiting both Boise State and Washington before Petersen changed schools which bodes well for the Huskies. He may end up at WR. Also keep an eye on CB Jeremy Kelly, younger brother of current Husky Jermaine. He liked both Washington and Boise State prior to the coaching change.
Out of Utah, OL Andre James figures to be one of the top players and he already has an impressive list of offers, though he sounds like a strong lean to Oregon. LB Osa Masina out of Salt Lake City might end up rivaling James in offers, and had early interest in the Huskies, taking an unofficial visit last summer on a tour of the NW Pac-12 schools. He's a tall LB prospect that fit the ideal Peter Sirmon looked for and also had an offer from Petersen at Boise.
Arizona continues to produce a lot of talent, and WR Christian Kirk out of Scottsdale might be the best of the class in 2015 with a huge offer list already. He's a smaller guy but is an explosive, big-play receiver.
The top prospect out of Hawai'i this year figures to be DE Canton Kaumatule, younger brother of Stanford Cardinal Luke. It's a good bet he'll follow his brother to Stanford, but if he decides to forge his own path, Washington is likely to be right in the mix.
Many fans wondered how Petersen would adapt to recruiting at the Pac-12 level; after signing four players with 4-star ratings in a class assembled in just over a month, that question has mostly been answered. It will be of great interest to see how much better he and his staff can do with a full year of recruiting. With a strong in-state crop, he has the potential to ink a strong class by keeping most of them home and landing a few top guys from out of state. Can Petersen land his first 5-star recruit ever? Don't count him out...