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2016 UW Football Recruiting: California Prospects

A look ahead to the next recruiting cycle for Husky football - who are the names to know as the work on the 2016 recruiting class begins in earnest? In Part 2, we take a closer look at the California prospects on the Husky recruiting radar...

5-star WR prospect Tyler Vaughns
5-star WR prospect Tyler Vaughns
Student Sports

On Tuesday we kicked off our series on 2016 football prospects that the UW is looking at by focusing on the Pacific Northwest region.  Today in Part 2 we move on to California - as the biggest state in the west it should come as no surprise that this presents the main recruiting area for the Huskies.  Washington currently has offers out to at least 29 prospects in the Golden State, more than every other state combined.  Who are the players that currently have Husky offers?  Let's take a look:


Washington is not shying away from going after top talent in California, and perhaps the highest-profile target on their list is early 5-star WR Tyler Vaughns from Bishop Amat H.S. in La Puente.  Tall, highly productive with great hands and body control, Vaughns has an elite offer list from big-time programs all around the country.  A big USC fan growing up, Chris Petersen and the Husky staff have done a great job of getting into the mix and he's going to give Washington a long look.  If he makes it up this spring or summer for an unofficial visit that will be good news for the Huskies staying in his top-5, but they're going to have stiff competition not only from the L.A. schools but also Michigan, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.

Another 5-star target is LB Caleb Kelly from Clovis West H.S. out of Fresno.  His offer list is a who's who of college football with basically every big-time program out there pursuing him.  The L.A. schools have been particularly aggressive as you might expect.  He'll attempt to trim his list to 10 or so this summer, so we'll know by then whether Washington has a shot or not.

Besides Vaughn, the Huskies have offers out to a number of other high-level WR prospects.  Javon McKinley from Centennial H.S. in Corona has already been to Seattle on an unofficial visit and came away impressed.  He grew up favoring the Trojans and has visited both L.A. school and ASU, and would like to check out Notre Dame and possibly Oregon.  He had considered committing at the end of his junior season, but is letting the recruiting process play out for now.  Another top target is Dylan Crawford out of Santa Margarita Catholic H.S.  He's nearly as tall as Vaughns and has a similarly impressive offer list.  Early on he appears to be looking hardest at the L.A. schools, Tennessee and Oregon State (though whether that interest remains high after Mike Riley's departure is in question).  Washington is likely in better shape with David Long out of Loyola H.S. in Los Angeles.  Long visited Seattle for the Oregon State game and has them as one of his early standout schools.  Steffon McKnight from Mira Mesa H.S. in San Diego reportedly has the Huskies in his early top-3 along with USC and Oregon, but I suspect the Trojans will be the team to beat for him.  One of the smaller receivers the Huskies are after is Damian Alloway out of Summit H.S. in Fontana.  He's been a do-it-all guy for his team also playing RB, DB and wildcat QB and took part in the UW's satellite camp last year at Redlands University.  Another smaller receiver that could also get a look at CB is Jack Jones from powerhouse Long Beach Poly.  USC was a childhood favorite for him, Boise State is making a big push for him and he has some interest in WSU.

With it being a down year locally for OL, the Huskies are hoping to snag one of the stud prospects out of California and have offers out to three high level tackles.  Jonah Williams of Folsom H.S. is considered one of the top tackles in the country and already has an impressive offer list including Auburn, Ole Miss and nearly the entire Pac-12.  As the teammate of Jake Browning there is some hope that the QB can work a little magic and recruit him to Seattle.  Frank Martin II out of Mater Dei H.S in Santa Ana has an even more impressive offer list including (but not limited to) LSU, Oklahoma, UCLA, Texas A&M, Miami (FL), Arkansas, ASU and many others, but so far not USC.  He's indicated he's going to take his time with the process.  Rising up recruiting boards is Luke Wattenberg from JSerra Catholic H.S. in San Juan Capistrano.  He's interesting in making a decision this off-season, and if the Huskies can get him past UCLA, their blend of academics and coaching could really appeal to him - keep an eye on whether he camps with the Huskies.  On the interior, it appears the Huskies have offered Mike Alves out of St. Augustine H.S. in San Diego.  He has interest from ASU, Boston College and San Diego State.

Much focus every year is put on the glamor positions, none more so than QB and RB.  While Petersen hasn't given up on pursuing Skinny Eason, he's also taking no chances and has offered Matt Fink out of Glendora H.S., alma mater to OC and QB coach Jonathan Smith.  He was up for Junior Day this past weekend, and with competing offers from Oregon State and Boise State, there's reason to believe that Fink might pull the trigger for Washington this summer.  He doesn't have the gun that Eason possesses, but he has good arm strength, nice touch and deceptive speed - he can hurt you with his feet and is comfortable running a read-option attack.

As for running backs, one of their top prospects is Sean McGrew from St. John Bosco in Bellflower.  A smaller back, he has great speed and surprising toughness - he's not just a scatback.  He has early interest in UCLA, Cal and Washington and was on hand last year when the Huskies hosted the Bruins.  Melquise Stovall of Paraclete H.S. in Lancaster is of similar size, has plenty of speed and has been tremendously productive with over 3,700 rushing yards already in his career.  Washington was an early offer for him which made a very big impression on him and he's planning to visit next month.  Slightly taller but still on the smaller side is Romello Harris out of Tulare Union H.S.  He had a monster season, putting up over 2,500 yards on the ground and 30+ TDs and is very high on the Huskies, and they've seen him up close as he took part in the satellite camp last year at Redlands.  On the other end of the size spectrum is Beau Bisharat from Jesuit H.S. in Carmichael, a bruising downhill runner that could also get looks at LB.  He has a range of offers from much of the Pac-12 plus Nebraska and interest from USC & LSU.  Washington, ASU, Boise State, Cal, USC are all standing out to him at this point.

Getting some beef for the DL is always a priority, but those prospects are tough to come by.  Washington currently has a couple of offers out in California along the d-line: a rising 4-star prospect considering the Huskies is DE Oluwole Betiku of Junipero Serra H.S. in Gardena.  A native of Nigeria, he's fairly new to football and still coming to grips with the recruiting process, but he's already formed a strong interest in the Huskies and is planning to visit.  USC is on him and will be a major player, and he has interest in seeing a number of other schools including Florida State, Miami (FL) and Notre Dame, but the Huskies have a chance of making a big impression on him with Petersen's "Built For Life" philosophy.  The other prospect with an offer is DT Boss Tagaloa from De La Salle H.S. in Concord.  He's got good size already at 6'3" and 295 lbs, and he combines that with terrific quickness and room to grow.  He's a 4-star and generally considered the top DT prospect in the west; he's got a huge offer sheet including SEC powerhouse Alabama, but the early indications are UCLA is the team to beat.

Besides Kelly, the coaching staff has a number of other offers out to LBs - their top MLB target is Lokeni Toailoa out of Carter H.S. in Rialto.  Washington will be pushing the academic angle with him, but he grew up a USC fan and UCLA is pushing very hard for him.  On the outside, Petersen has offered Frank Martin's teammate Curtis Robinson of Mater Dei.  He's a 4-star prospect in his own right with a long offer list, but Washington was one of the first and they are high on his list of places to visit this summer.  He has the size and speed to be considered at WR as well.  Also on their list is Darrian Franklin of Downey H.S. and he too was offered early by the Huskies.  He also has a lot of interest in the L.A. schools as well as Michigan (his dad is originally from Detroit).  Another prospect with early interest from the Huskies is Camilo Eifler from Bishop O'Dowd H.S. in Oakland.  He has already checked out Washington, and has them in an early top tier with UCLA and Cal; academics are going to be very important for him (his mother is a professor at Cal).

In the back end, Washington has offers out to a couple of corners.  One of those is Tyler Vaughn's teammate Trevon Sidney of Bishop Amat H.S.  The athletic prospect has played QB on offense and could factor at WR as well.  He's putting a lot of emphasis on academics, so Washington will have a puncher's chance against offers from USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, Miami (FL) and others.  The other offer is to Treyjohn Butler of Etiwanda H.S.  While lists him at CB, he's also getting equal attention from schools as a safety as he combines good speed (10.7 100-meter) with a physical style of play.  He has former teammate Michael Neal (2015 signee) in his ear about the Huskies, but he's planning on letting the process play out.

So there you go Husky fans - I know that's a lot of names to digest, and the reality is most of those kids will end up elsewhere.  The important takeaway though is that Petersen is not shying away from battling the big boys for top California talent, and he's now had 2+ years of establishing relationships with these kids - ones that wouldn't give him much of a look while he was at Boise - and his "Built For Life" approach is one that resonates with many of these targets.  I expect many more offers to go out to California kids through the spring and summer, particularly after they hold their camps (I would anticipate they will once again hold satellite camps in the state) as new names will emerge.

Up next we'll take a look at prospects from the remaining areas - Arizona, Utah, Hawai'i, Texas and Louisiana (yes, the Huskies have an offer out in the Bayou State).