Signing Day for 2015 is still fresh on the minds for many college football fans, but it's never too early to look ahead to the next recruiting cycle and see who the Huskies are targeting. Recruiting is a year-round job, and while the coaching staff was working hard to finalize the 2015 class, they were also busy evaluating film and handing out offers for 2016 (and even 2017). In Part 1 of this series we'll take a look at the prospects Washington has reportedly offered for next year out of the Pacific Northwest Region:
Husky fans are always eager to see the program lock up the top prospects in-state, and so far Petersen is batting .500. The big name of course is Jacob "Skinny" Eason, a 4-star QB out of Lake Stevens H.S. who is being talked about in the same light as past stars such as Chris Chandler, Billy Joe Hobert, Drew Bledsoe, Brock Huard and Max Browne as possibly one of - if not the - best QB prospects to come out of the state. Eason drew a ton of recruiting attention after his sophomore season with offers from schools like Alabama, Florida State, Florida, Miami (FL) and Tennessee. Petersen held off offering as he had a policy of wanting to see QB prospects throw in his camps first before offering, and some close to Eason were a bit bothered that the hometown school was holding back while big-time SEC schools weren't. Michigan, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State all extended offers before Petersen followed suit, having watched him at the UW's Rising Stars camp. He ended up committing to Georgia less than a month after that Husky offer, and despite attending nearly every Husky home game in 2014 and many practices, has remained firm in that commitment even in the wake of the departure of Georgia OC Mike Bobo (point man on his recruitment) to take over at Colorado State. Washington hasn't stopped recruiting Eason, but they are starting to look at other QB options for this class.
ATH Brandon Wellington out of Eastside Catholic H.S. was the first prospect to jump on board for the 2016 class, committing this past August. He's well-built, very physically talented and is thought by some thought to be the top prospect in the state this past year regardless of class - heady praise when considering guys like Benning Potoa'e, Henry Roberts, Myles Gaskin, Austin Joyner, Brett Rypien, Trey Adams and more in the 2015 class and Eason in the 2016 class. He projects at both RB and LB, and the guess is that he'll get his first crack on defense.
Also with offers currently are CB Isaiah Gilchrist out of Bellevue H.S., S Taylor Rapp out of Sehome H.S. and DE Amandre Williams out of Tahoma H.S. All three are guys that could add their name to the commit list over the next few months as all of them have a very strong interest in the Huskies, though Gilchrist and Rapp might opt to let the process play out a bit as they both boast some significant offers elsewhere and could decide they want to take some visits before closing things down. Williams is an intriguing guy - projected as a DE or BUCK for the UW, he's been playing QB on offense and has posted some big numbers there. His future is on defense though.
Some other notable recruits in state include LB Joel Dublanko out of Aberdeen H.S., TE Isaac Garcia out of Bellevue H.S and his teammates WR Tyson Penn and ATH Justus Rogers, QB Harley Kirsch from Eastside Catholic H.S., DE/OLB Evan Weaver out of Gonzaga Prep and OL Jared Goldwire from Kentwood H.S. Dublanko has received a lot of interest from around the country but no offer yet from the Dawgs - they may be waiting to see him in camp this summer before offering, as there's some thought he might be outgrowing LB, and they may want to see him up close to decide where he'd fit. Garcia is a recent transplant from Fontana, CA and is a lifelong USC fan, so it was no surprise when he committed early to the Trojans. Penn has terrific size at 6'4" but not a lot of opportunities to catch the ball in the Wolverine offense, so hitting the camp circuit this off-season could be big for his recruitment. Rogers plays QB for Bellevue but will likely play S at the college level and will also look to show his versatility in camps this summer. Kirsch had a big season for the state champs and has an offer from Wyoming. Weaver has strong interest already from WSU and Boise State - not surprising given their proximity. Goldwire is a big guy with a lot of potential - the question is how much he really wants to play.
A few guys are starting to emerge as the 2016 recruiting cycle officially kicks off, including Husky legacy Eric Briscoe Jr. out of Davis H.S. in Yakima - he made the trip west for Junior Day and his recruiting could really pick up quickly with a strong showing this summer in the camp circuit. He currently plays WR and S, but has the size to grow into a LB prospect. LB Erik Glueck out of Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma also made the trip. He's got the size you like to see as a MIK LB at ~6'2", 220 lbs. He has an offer from Ohio and interest from Oregon, WSU, Boise State and a few Ivy League schools. Another prospect making the trip for Junior Day was LB/DE Lakota Wills out of Richland H.S. He's waiting on his first offer and is hearing from the NW schools.
Our neighbors to the south don't produce as many FBS prospects as in our neck of the woods, and those they do produce can be hard to pry away from the Ducks. That hasn't stopped Petersen from trying though, as LB Lamar Winston from Central Catholic H.S. in Portland and TE Cam McCormick from Summit H.S. in Bend both have offers from the Huskies. While both predictably put a lot of value in their offers from Oregon, they also both express a real interest in Washington. Both made the trip up north this past weekend for UW's Junior Day which is encouraging. Winston is a taller, rangy kid with good hands, while McCormick has a classic TE frame and could end up one of the top prospects at that position on the west coast.
Another Oregon product that made the visit to Seattle was OL Connor Crist from Tigard H.S. He projects as an interior player, and in a fairly lean year for OL prospects out of the NW, he's going to get a long look from Washington. He does not currently have an offer, so he may need to hit the camp circuit this summer to get that ball rolling. Also getting attention is DL Osa Odighizuwa out of David Douglas H.S. in Portland. He's the younger brother of UCLA player Owamagbe Odighizuwa, and the Bruins have stepped up with an early offer for Osa along with Boise State.
While the Gem State isn't known for producing a lot of football prospects, Chris Petersen spent over a decade mining talent out of the region and with his deep connections there will continue to try to find undiscovered diamonds. Sorry, let's just move on to the prospects...
There currently don't appear to be any Idaho players with offers from Washington, but there is at least one guy to keep an eye on in LB Kenton Bartlett out of Centennial H.S. in Boise. He was unable to make the trip for Junior Day, but has the attention of the coaching staff and is the type of player that could benefit from hitting the Rising Stars camp this summer to boost his stock.
While the main attention has shifted to 2016 recruiting, the coaches are also looking down the road and have issued a few offers already for the 2017 class. Headlining that list is OL Foster Sarell out of Graham Kapowsin H.S. in Graham, WA. He's got the size to play college football already and has offers from Washington, UCLA, Oregon State and Boise State. Before it's all over his recruitment could rival - or surpass - past standouts such as Josh Garnett and Steve Schilling, and is almost certainly going to be a national-level recruit. He reportedly grew up a Husky fan, but is expected to take a deliberate approach to his decision. He was among a number of 2017 prospects at Junior Day this weekend. Landing him would be a major get for Petersen.
It's already looking like a banner year for OL prospects in-state for 2017 as there are at least 3 other FBS level prospects emerging. Fellow OL prospect Henry Bainivalu out of Skyline H.S. also was on hand, and it paid off as he received his first offer from Petersen. I would expect several more offers to start coming in on the heels of that news. The other two 2017 OL prospects in the house were Cody Kanouse out of Peninsula H.S. in Gig Harbor and Brody McKnight from Eastside Catholic H.S. Kanouse has all the size you love to see at nearly 6'8" and close to 300 lbs - he just needs to continue to work on his fundamentals and show enough quickness to start getting FBS offers. He and McKnight have plenty of time to impress coaches.
It's not just linemen in the 2017 class though - ATH Salvon Ahmed out of Juanita H.S. in Kirkland is the 3rd in-state player with an offer. He projects as a slot WR/RB on offense and a DB on defense. He has terrific speed. Last but definitely not least is Elijah Molden out of West Linn H.S. in West Linn, OR. The son of former Oregon standout and NFL CB Alex Molden, he's an early 4-star recruit and is already getting national attention in addition to his offers from Washington and Oregon.