In just six days (!) Washington kicks off their 2014 football season. That also marks a new phase in recruiting for the 2015 class, as it means that official visits can begin and Senior seasons for high school prospects get underway. Some players that have flown under the radar will find themselves getting major attention as they have big seasons, and others will find themselves slipping down recruiting lists as they fail to impress.
Now is a good time to take stock of the current state of Chris Petersen's 2015 recruiting class for Washington - who is committed, who appears to be close to committing, who is being targeted and how many players should we expect to see sign in February? Let's look at things by position, starting with quarterbacks:
Committed: Jake Browning; Expected to take: 1; Targets: none
While the trend in recruiting is for more kids to commit early each year, this is nothing new at the QB spot. More so than any other position, recruiting at this spot is a game of dominoes - the top kids look to lock in their choices early, and each commitment has a ripple effect. For Washington, they were after a couple of 4-star prospects in Folsom, CA's record-setting Jake Browning and Spokane, WA's Brett Rypien. The first to commit got the spot, and Browning beat Rypien to the punch (he subsequently committed to Boise State). Browning is the latest in a strong run of QB recruiting for the Huskies - he marks the 5th consecutive 4-star prospect for Washington. He doesn't have the strongest arm our there, nor is he a huge threat with his legs, but he's accurate and plays in a pass-heavy offense that has enabled him to set passing records for the California high school ranks (and he's likely to break more by the time he's done). Keep an eye on his senior season - he had thrown so much through spring workouts that he was advised to take the summer off and rest his arm.
Analysis: Washington is set with Browning and he looks to be a good fit as a Petersen QB.
Gaskin - a local 4-star prospect from O'Dea H.S. - gives the Huskies a great start to this group. While not the biggest guy out there, he's a hard-nosed runner with good speed and balance. Washington would like to add one more, and are in on some very good backs. Scarlett is a big back out of Portland, OR and considered one of - if not the - best RB in the west. While he likes the Huskies, he's considered a Stanford lean. Warren is the son of the former Seahawks RB and was in town recently on an unofficial visit (his mother is from the area) and he appears to be a chip off the old man's block. He's an elite level recruit with reported offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA and Wisconsin (among many others). Lovette hails from recent pipeline school Redlands East Valley (Ronnie Fouch, Marquis Persley, Chris Polk, Andrew Hudson) and is a terrific athlete with the ability to excel at a number of positions (RB, WR, CB). At this point he appears to be Oregon's to lose. Lucas is a blazer from Phoenix, AZ that will likely be a 2-sport athlete (track).
Analysis: Gaskin is one of the top backs on the West Coast; they'll look to add a 2nd back if they can, and they are pursuing some excellent ones though all appear to be leaning elsewhere. They may end up looking at some plan-B options late in the recruiting cycle.
Washington has a good base with Renfro and Baccellia committed; Renfro is a bigger guy at 6'2", 185 lbs and could also be an impact player at S, but he's being recruited as a WR by the Huskies and gives them some size that will be missing with the graduation of Kasen Williams and DiAndre Campbell. Baccellia is a smaller receiver with terrific hands a great quickness and looks to be a great fit in the slot. Hawkins is an excellent WR with above average size and great all-around skills; he's likely an Oregon lean, but he's high on the Huskies. Alston combines good size with elite level speed, and his hands are catching up with the rest of his skills. He has indicated Washington will get one of his 5 visits. Snell is one of the top JC WR's in the country; after initially committing to Utah, he's opened things up and appears to have strong interest in ASU and Washington in addition to the Utes. McClatcher - known locally as the "Blue Mamba" - is an electric playmaker that appears headed for a slot WR role in college. Washington's pursuit of him has slowed under the new staff - there may be some grade concerns. Kelly is the younger brother of Jermaine Kelly and has strong interest in following his brother to Seattle. The staff may be waiting on their other targets to decide before accepting a commitment from Kelly.
Analysis: With Renfro and Baccellia the Huskies have a bigger SE type and a smaller slot type; they will likely try to get at least one more in the fold and have some strong options - Alston is a terrific prospect and seems like a good possibility. Kelly could be a plan-B guy they turn to late.
Committed: Mike Neal; Expected to take: 1; Targets: none
Neal is a taller kid at 6'5" that appears to be a hybrid TE/WR type that can fill a role similar to Josh Perkins. He was a recruit the Huskies showed early interest in, and after working with him at their satellite Redlands, CA camp this summer offered him, and he committed soon after. The Huskies are probably set for this class.
Analysis: With Neal committed the Huskies appear to be done at the TE spot.
With three commitments already in the fold, Washington is nearly done with this position. All three current commits are tall, agile types with good feet and room to add good weight to their frames. Burleson as a late addition to the 2014 class; formerly a basketball prospect, he switched gears during his senior season and pursued a football offer and got one from the Huskies, though it was with the understanding he'd delay his enrollment and count against the 2015 class. Adams was a very early commitment to the Huskies and re-affirmed it with the new staff when they confirmed his offer. The Wenatchee, WA product is a die-hard Husky. Hilbers hails from Beaverton, OR and like the other two possesses a tall frame, quick feet and plenty of room to add good weight. The Huskies are expected to take four OL in this class, and the last spot appears reserved for Bellevue, WA's Henry Roberts, the latest in a long line of high-level OL prospects from the state's dominant high school program. Roberts was initially a strong Stanford lean, but he now appears to be favoring Washington and could be announcing his decision within the next few weeks. Milo is a high level OT prospect out of West Hills, CA, but with Roberts a likely commit he's probably headed elsewhere. Empey is a rising OG prospect out of American Fork, UT. As an LDS kid intent on taking his mission right away, Washington would like to get him in the fold to get a head start on their 2017 OL class.
Analysis: The Huskies are close to wrapped on their OL class - if they get a commitment from Roberts as expected, they will likely call it good unless they decide they are comfortable bringing Empey in as a long-term guy with the assumption he takes his 2-year mission right away. All three of the current commits have OT size and look quite nimble; they also have plenty of room to fill out and will be great tests of Tim Socha's strength & conditioning program.
Reynolds is a name that may be familiar to Washington recruitniks - he had been a target of the previous staff for the 2013 class before grades forced him to go the JC route. He's got great size at 6'5", 325 lbs. At the moment it appears Cal, Oklahoma and Tennessee are his top schools, with ASU and UW vying for his last two visits. Mounga is a classic 2-gap space-eater out of Murrieta, CA. Another LDS prospect, he's giving strong consideration to BYU & Utah, and is also looking hard at Arizona, Colorado and WSU. With a dearth of high-level DT prospects out west - and most of them already committed elsewhere - this may be a position where Petersen's staff has to uncover a late-bloomer. With three big bodies added in the 2014 class in Vita Vea, Greg Gaines and Kaleb McGary, the Huskies can probably afford to take just one in the 2015 class.
Analysis: With some big bodies in the fold for the 2014 class, there's not as much pressure to have to land a NT type in this class. They'd love to get another body in this class to keep some balance, but it's a tough year out West for the big guys. This may be a position where the Huskies have to take a flier on a late-bloomer.
I've arbitrarily split the list between DT & DE, but some of the guys on this list are definitely candidates to fill a similar role to Evan Hudson and play more of an interior spot ranging from the 3T to the 5T. Potoa'e is a legacy, the younger brother of Sione Potoa'e. He has enough size (6'4", 250 lbs) and strength to play inside and enough quickness to be a strongside DE. Washington is doing well with him, but keep an eye on UCLA. Kaumatule is the younger brother of Stanford DE Luke Kaumatule and would like to follow his brother there. If his grades fall short, Washington should be right there for him. He has terrific size at 6'6", 260 lbs. Gustin is a rising prospect out of Salem, UT. He's a little smaller than Potoa'e and Kaumatule and strictly an edge type, projecting as more of a BUCK/DE or even OLB. He has a huge offer list, but Washington is right in the thick of it for him. He had a great time on an unofficial visit to Seattle this summer. Wicker had been an early commit to the UW and Sark but decided to reconsider and open things up. He's a versatile prospect with the size and athleticism to play a range of spots along the line. Washington is doing well for him, but if the local schools - UCLA & USC - offer him, they could be tough to beat. Scrempos is another big kid similar to Kaumatule and is rising fast on recruiting boards. He had a great unofficial visit earlier in the summer and Washington could be in the driver's seat for his commitment. Tafua hails from Honolulu, HI and had been a BYU commit, but has opened things up now that other offers have come in. Oregon and Washington look to be strong contenders to peel him away from the Cougars.
Analysis: The Huskies are in on a lot of really good players here, and a range of kids from pure edge rushers to guys that could play 3T. If they could land a group including Potoa'e, Gustin, Wicker & Scrempos I think the staff would be very happy. How many they take will be somewhat dependent on whether they can land a NT they like.
Manu is a classic LB-type - tough, a grinder, decent size. Hailing from Pocatello, ID he had long been a fan of Coach Petersen, and when the Huskies came after him it didn't take him long to flip his commitment from Boise State. Tezino is a hybrid type with safety size but a LB attitude - he hits with authority. Arizona and Cal appear to be the primary competition for the Los Angeles, CA product. Young is a versatile player that could also get looks at RB but is mainly being recruited as a LB. Hailing from Peoria, AZ, the local schools may be tough to beat. Beavers is another athletic LB with safety size that will look to fill out once he hits the college ranks. He's very interested in both Washington schools. Rudinski has a little more rangy size to him but a more modest offer list. He's very high on Washington. Ieremia looks like more of a MLB type, very solidly-built. The Hurricane, UT product had a terrific visit to the UW this summer and the Huskies are considered his leader. Camargo is a high-level student giving serious consideration to Ivy League offers, but if Washington is serious about pursuing him they probably have the best shot with his current offer list.
Analysis: With Manu they have a guy that is probably best suited for the middle. I would expect them to go after one to two more to balance out the classes and they seem to be doing well with multiple guys and will probably be in a position to say "first come, first served" from among Beavers, Rudinski, Ieremia and Camargo.
Miller has nice length and explosive athleticism. His recruitment was a bit under the radar as he played behind two FBS recruits last season, but he could end up being a real steal. Holiday is a terrific-looking prospect with an elite offer list. He has the size to play S but the athleticism to play CB (his preferred position). Washington stands a decent shot of making his top-5. Fabrizio is a good-sized prospect that could grow into a LB in college. As an LDS prospect out of Sandy, UT it may be tough to beat out BYU, but he's intrigued by the Big-5 aspect of Washington and Wisconsin. Pounds has the length that is coveted in corners. The Cypress, CA prospect is intrigued by the Huskies and will likely visit. Joyner had been a UW commit under Sark as a RB, but decided to rethink things when Petersen was hired. Since then he's decided his future is at CB and when the Huskies were slow to offer at that position he committed to WSU. Washington has now offered him at CB and is still pursuing him - if they end up getting an official visit, they might flip him back. Haney is another CB prospect that has strong interest in Washington.
Analysis: I'm lumping all the DB's together as many of them project at both CB and S, and with the proliferation of spread offenses the distinction between the positions is growing fuzzier. With Miller on board, I'd expect Washington to go after 2-3 more. They'd be elated to land Holiday, but appear to be in decent shape to finish with Pounds and Haney.
Committed: A.J. Carty (Long-Snapper); Expected to take: 1; Targets: none
Carty is only the 2nd long-snapper specialist recruited as a scholarship player by the Huskies (Danny Morovick was the first). He's rated highly by Chris Rubio, a long-snapping guru for high school prospects.
Analysis: With three scholarship kickers on the roster I wouldn't expect to see the Huskies pursue any more specialists.