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Reviewing the 2015 Husky Football Class

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With all the faxes in and the class set, it's time to take a look at the 2015 Washington recruiting class and see how well Chris Petersen did in his first full recruiting cycle in Seattle.

LB Tevis Bartlett
LB Tevis Bartlett
Student Sports

Washington welcomed 22 new players to their program today, joining 3 others on campus who have already enrolled.  While you can never be certain just how good a recruiting class is until they have graduated and true assessments can be made of their impact (or lack thereof), people love lists and rankings and comparing mine to yours.  By the judgements of the three major recruiting networks, the Huskies did reasonably well, ranking between 24th and 30th in the country.  SBN's Jamie Uyeyama (recruiting editor for the Pac-12 blog Pacific Takes) has spoken highly of the job Petersen has done with this class.

By all accounts Petersen did a terrific job in-state, landing 6 of the 7 top guys he wanted, losing out only on OL Calvin Throckmorton to Oregon (Brett Rypien was set to commit to Washington until Jake Browning beat him to the punch).  His results out of state were more mixed.  While he landed a lot of quality players and some guys with very intriguing upside, his inability to win over players like DeChaun Holiday, Canton Kaumatule, Porter Gustin, Joseph Wicker or Cameron Scarlett has some folks concerned about how well he'll be able to compete with the conference heavyweights.  Picking up Chris Warren would have alleviated some of those concerns, and he came thisclose to doing so, losing out on the result of a coin flip.

From my perspective, what's exciting about this class is that the 3-star (and 2-star) kids signed are ones where you can see the upside and the real possibility there are gems that could outperform their ratings.  Equally impressive is the balance to the class and the clear plan you can see with Petersen's recruiting to get the roster to a state where overloads in a particular position group in any one year (i.e. this year's OL, last year's DBs) is highly unlikely.  As well, the type of kids Petersen recruits appear to be less likely to wash out down the road, and I don't expect any of his recruits to fall short academically.  A 4-star kid doesn't help you much if he leaves the program.

With all that said, let's take a closer look at the 2015 class:

QB:

Jake Browning 6'1", 202 lbs 4-star Scout.com 4-star Rivals.com (5.9)

By now you're probably well aware of Browning - he's a record-setting QB out of Folsom, CA who put up monster numbers in high school.  He has a tremendous feel for the game and given the sheer volume of passes he's thrown in his career already it's no surprise how polished he looks.  He has good accuracy, terrific anticipation and ability to read a defense and an underrated ability to move around in the pocket to buy time.  While he doesn't have a rocket arm, he's not below-par in this regard either.  He's on the smaller side and will need to bulk up some to withstand the hits he'll take at this level, but he's a terrific prospect and will be in the mix this fall.  While I expect he'll ultimately redshirt, it's not a huge stretch to think he's got a shot at seeing the field in 2015.

RB:

Myles Gaskin 5'9", 195 lbs 4-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.7)

While it's tough to miss out on a guy like Chris Warren, Gaskin is no mere consolation prize - he's a very good back himself and considered among the top 2-3 backs on the west coast.  He's not a big kid, but he's solidly built and runs with good leg drive, deceptive speed, nice burst and some ability to make tacklers miss.  You'll hear comparisons to Bishop Sankey; physically that's a good comp, but he hasn't shown Sankey's phenomenal cutting ability and vision - yet.  Give him a year or two to get bigger and stronger and adjust to the college level and you could be looking at a possible 3-year starter.  As unproven as the RB situation is for the Huskies right now, you can't rule out Gaskin seeing the field in 2015.

WR:

Andre Baccellia 5'9", 165 lbs 3-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.5)
Chico McClatcher 5'8", 180 lbs 4-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.6)
Quinten Pounds 5'11", 165 lbs 3-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.5)
Isaiah Renfro 6'1", 185 lbs 4-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.7)

With only 4 returning scholarship receivers on the roster (assuming John Ross sticks at CB), it was imperative to restock the shelves here.  Baccellia didn't get a ton of recruiting attention, but he had offers from WSU and Duke, two programs with coaches that specialize in the passing game.  He's a smaller guy and figures to fit in to a similar role as Jaydon Mickens.  He displays great hands and is a guy that can do a lot of damage in the open field.  He's a guy that Uyeyama thinks could come in right away and find playing timeMcClatcher is another player that figures as a slot receiver and could also see time in the backfield.  Nicknamed the "Blue Mamba" by former UW QB Taylor Barton, he shows a lot of the same explosive playmaking ability of De'Anthony Thomas.  He's already done a good job bulking up and looks like he could become a faster version of James Rodgers.  Pounds was originally thought to be a DB recruit for the Huskies, but Petersen has indicated he'll get his first shot at WR.  He's got long arms and good hands, but will likely need a year or two in the weight room before he can make an impact on the field.  Renfro - listed as a S prospect by Scout.com - is a bigger-bodied receiver that the Huskies sorely need and noted for his soft hands, good body control and above average route-runner.  I would guess that Renfro and McClatcher will play in 2015, and Baccellia could be in the mix too, while Pounds seems like a good candidate for a redshirt to get bigger.

TE:

Michael Neal 6'4", 219 lbs 3-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.5)

Neal fits the mold of a guy like Josh Perkins - not as big as a classic TE type like a Michael Hartvigson, but more like a big WR that can block in-line at times and then split out wide at other times.  He didn't see a lot of action in a run-heavy offense at Etiwanda, but he put the touches to good use as he scored 7 times on 21 catches for 353 yards.  He'll likely get the benefit of a redshirt year to add size and strength.

OL:

Trey Adams 6'8", 283 lbs 4-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.7)
Devin Burleson 6'7", 260 lbs 2-star Scout.com 2-star Rivals.com (5.4)
Jared Hilbers 6'6", 279 lbs 3-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.6)
Henry Roberts 6'6", 280 lbs 4-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.7)

With 5 players with significant experience graduating, it was critical to re-stock the cupboards here.  While you would hope that all of these kids can redshirt to get bigger and stronger, you can't rule out the possibility that one or more might see the field.  All of them boast impressive height and terrific athleticism for their size.  Adams is the biggest of the bunch and was the first commit for the 2015 class back when Sark was still coach and has remained solid ever since.  He's already done great work transforming his body and has really come on in his senior year - he's a guy that has the size and athleticism as well as the work ethic to make a redshirt decision very difficult on the coaching staff.  Burleson was a commit to the 2014 class but delayed enrollment to this winter so he'll be a part of the 2015 class.  He's a development project, but one with terrific potential.  He's a former basketball player that is still fairly new to football, so he's got a lot of work to do from a fundamentals standpoint, but the athletic potential is there and he has the quick feet that are coveted at T.  Hilbers fits right in with this group as another tall kid with above-average athleticism for his size.  He's still on the lean side and has plenty of room to get bigger and stronger.  He impressed the coaching staff at their rising stars camp and was offered soon after.  I expect him to redshirt, but he's a kid that could really blossom in 2-3 years.  Roberts is the headliner of the group, the top-rated OL in the PNW and the latest in a long line of D1 OL recruits from local powerhouse Bellevue H.S.  Coming from a Wing-T offense he's less proven in pass-protection, but he received positive evaluations from the U.S. Army All-American game workouts.  He's another player that could make a redshirt decision difficult on the coaching staff.

DL:

Ricky McCoy 6'3", 294 lbs 3-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.6)
Benning Potoa'e 6'3", 265 lbs 4-star Scout.com 4-star Rivals.com (5.8)
Myles Rice 6'4", 220 lbs 2-star Scout.com 2-star Rivals.com (5.4)
Jason Scrempos 6'6", 252 lbs 3-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.6)
Bryce Sterk 6'4", 229 lbs 2-star Scout.com 2-star Rivals.com (5.4)

Another area of great need given graduation losses, so it was good to see this was a priority for the staff.  Given the multiple fronts used and the hybrid nature of the BUCK role, it's hard to know exactly where to put some of these guys, but we'll make our best guesses.  McCoy is the lone one of the group that's a clear-cut interior DT.  Originally a TE commit to Arizona, he kept growing and attracted a lot of attention as a DL recruit, and when the Wildcats wavered in their pursuit of him as a TE, the Huskies were there to swoop him away.  His time at TE speaks to his feet and quickness, and he's got the frame to bulk up, though he'll probably need a redshirt year to transform some of that weight and get stronger.  He's probably more of a 3T guy than a NT.  Potoa'e is arguably the gem of the recruiting class, the top-rated player in the state of Washington and a key recruiting win for Petersen over a strong push from UCLA.  He's looked the part physically for years now, plays with a great motor and is very strong.  He's been mentioned as a possible BUCK, but he looks more like a SDE type that can slide more inside to a 5T or 3T depending on down and distance.  He's got the attributes and ability to battle for playing time right away, especially with all DL jobs looking for new starters.  Rice was a sleeper prospect plucked out of Texas that hadn't grabbed the attention of the local schools other than Houston, but this coaching staff sees a lot of potential here with his size and speed.  He suffered a knee injury that ended his season and he's a candidate to delay his enrollment if needed to make the roster numbers work.  Depending on how big he gets and how his knee responds, he could slot anywhere from SDE to BUCK to OLB.  Scrempos is one of those 3-star prospects that oozes 4-star potential.  Blessed with terrific size and a non-stop motor, he has plenty of room to get even bigger and stronger.  He'll need to refine his technique to lean less on his size and strength advantages in high school, but he compares favorably to Evan Hudson and projects to a similar role.  Sterk was a late-riser up recruiting boards, and once Washington offered the Ducks came hard after him.  Another kid with a good frame and terrific athleticism, he's very raw and will need time in the weight room to bulk up and a lot of practice reps to refine his technique, but he's a guy that could really surprise a few years down the road.  He's another kid that could fit at DE or BUCK.

LB:

Tevis Bartlett 6'2", 218 lbs 3-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.5)
D.J. Beavers 6'0", 202 lbs 3-star Scout.com 4-star Rivals.com (5.8)
Ben Burr-Kirven 6'1", 202 lbs 3-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.6)
Kyler Manu 6'1", 224 lbs 3-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.5)
Justiss Warren 6'2",, 226 lbs 3-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.6)

One area that Petersen was unable to fill last year was LB, and with the losses of John Timu and Shaq Thompson it was important to get some extra bodies in this group for 2015.  I would expect moving forward that it's much less likely Petersen will sign this many linebackers in a single class, and a few of these guys are likely to play this year to help spread out their eligibility.  Bartlett is one of my favorite recruits of this class.  A high-level wrestler with offers from Iowa and others to play both sports, he's a great blend of heady and tough with a terrific work ethic.  He was a QB in high school and played most of his defensive snaps at FS, so he'll need to acclimate to his new position, but don't bet against him as a guy that could force his way onto the field next year.  Beavers is a smaller LB prospect, something we're seeing more of as spread offenses dominate the CFB landscape.  He has strong cover skills and plays much bigger and tougher than his size, and like most Petersen recruits is considered a tireless worker with real leadership potential.  He'll probably need a redshirt year to gain more size and strength, but he could fit a Shaq Thompson type of role down the road as a LB with primarily coverage responsibilities.  Burr-Kirven was mostly an unknown quantity when he committed out of the blue to Washington, but he's got impressive film to back up that offer.  Also on the smaller side, he plays big and flies to the ball with terrific tackling technique and hitting harder than his frame would suggest.  He would also benefit from a redshirt year to build up his body.  Manu is a bigger kid, closer to your typical inside backer but is going to get his first shot outside.  He's a recruit Petersen has been on for a long time and was originally a Boise State commit.  He's slated to arrive this spring and take part in the 2nd half of spring practices, and there's a chance he could find his way on the field in 2015, particularly on special teams.  Warren is a physically impressive kid that really jumps out at you when you watch him.  Had he not suffered a knee injury as a junior, it's likely he would have received more recruiting interest, but he had to prove he had fully recovered.  I think the Huskies got a steal here, and he's got the size and ability to be in the mix right away at OLB or BUCK, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he plays in 2015.

DB:

Austin Joyner 5'10", 192 lbs 4-star Scout.com 4-star Rivals.com (5.8)
Jordan Miller 6'1", 164 lbs 3-star Scout.com 3-star Rivals.com (5.5)
Ezekiel Turner 6'1", 192 lbs 3-star Scout.com JC recruit

This is the one area you could argue is a little light on numbers, but given the massive influx of newcomers necessary last year it's not terribly surprising.  Joyner is the biggest name on the list here, a stud local prospect who would also rate 4-star consideration at RB, and in fact there's a decent chance he'll get a few reps in the offensive backfield as well.  A relative newcomer to CB, he's got the athleticism for the position and great physicality, and could be a terrific safety as well depending on how the two position groups shake out.  He's got a great chance of playing right away.  Miller is an intriguing prospect with a great deal of upside; stuck behind two D1 prospects until this year, he shined when given the opportunity and has the length coaches covet at CB and might not be done growing.  A terrific athlete, he's still a bit raw in his technique, but he's got a very high upside.  He's more likely to redshirt to continue building up his body and refine his technique, but he's a guy that could emerge as a really good player in a couple of years.  Turner was a late-bloomer who didn't get the offers he was looking for out of high school and went the JC route to improve his stock.  It paid off as he showed a great combination of size and speed and plays with great physicality.  He's already enrolled and has 3 years of eligibility left, and everyone expects him to mount a serious challenge for the starting job opposite Budda Baker.

Specialist:

A.J. Carty 6'2", 270 lbs 2-star Scout.com 2-star Rivals.com (5.4)

With Korey Durkee, Cameron Van Winkle and Tristan Vizcaino all returning, there was no pressure to sign another kicker, but the staff did want to find a long-snapper to slot in behind 2015 senior Ryan Masel, and they found one of the best in the country in Carty according to ChrisSailorKicking.com.  The last LS to earn a scholarship offer from the Huskies was Danny Morovick, and while he had a few iffy snaps as a freshman, he settled into becoming a very good and dependable snapper as a 4-year starter, and Carty is expected to be as good or better than Morovick.  He's another candidate to delay his enrollment if needed since Masel still has another year of eligibility.