One of the great benefits of being a part of the SB Nation network is access to writers across the network, and one of the best is Jamie Uyeyama, the recruiting editor for the Pac-12 SBN site Pacific Takes (he also maintains his own personal blog Son of a Coach). In the wake of the Sean McGrew commitment to the Huskies, we reached out to him to get his thoughts on the current state of Washington's 2016 recruiting class:
UWDP: What are your quick impressions of the four Husky commitments so far?
Jamie Uyeyama: I really like all four of them. These are the kind of players Petersen needs to recruit. All of them have the potential to develop into high level starters in the Pac-12. I think Wellington would have a lot higher ranking nationally if the recruiting services could decide on his future position (I'm not sure why 247Sports has him rated as a safety) and Rapp is another player that I like better than some other higher ranked safeties in this class.
The two California kids could both end up being big time players as well. All in all, a pretty good start in terms of quality for the Huskies.
UWDP: Washington has secured a couple of in-state commitments already in Brandon Wellington and Taylor Rapp, but this appears to be a down year the state in terms of Pac-12 level talent - would you agree with this view?
JU: I would definitely agree with this view, although I do think that recruits from the state of Washington are often overlooked in comparison to some other areas. However, I do think there will be some players who emerge as seniors that UW will be able to take a closer look at. With the rush to offer players earlier and earlier these days, I always feel that many recruits who develop a little bit later or who may have not found their right position fit yet get overlooked and that's why there will be kids every year who end up at smaller schools that could certainly play in the Pac-12.
I think it's better to fully judge the 2016 class from the state of Washington around December.
UWDP: Besides Wellington & Rapp, who do you see as the prospects in Washington that should be on the radar for the Huskies?
JU: Rashaad Boddie is a running back out of Skyline (Sammamish) that I think could turn some heads. His future might not be at running back, but possibly at linebacker. If he stays at running back though, he runs with power and is more of a thunder when compared with the lightning of Sean McGrew. If they want to add more of a power back, Boddie may end up being a name to remember.
Defensive lineman Evan Weaver out of Gonzaga Prep (Spokane) already has an offer from UW and some other Pac-12 schools so I'm sure some people are already aware of him, but I just absolutely love the way this kid plays. He has a non-stop motor. He needs to get bigger, but I think he has a really bright future once he does.
Wide receiver Tyson Penn out of Bellevue is probably the most intriguing in-state prospect that people should start to be aware of. He doesn't get the ball thrown his way very often because of Bellevue's run-heavy offense, but he has the size and ball skills to become a red zone threat.
UWDP: Chris Petersen has secured commitments now from a couple of 4-star prospects out of California in Luke Wattenberg and Sean McGrew that had offers from one or both of USC & UCLA - do you think he's proving that he can compete with those schools for high level California talent?
JU: This isn't the answer everyone wants to hear, but no, I don't think he's proving he can compete with those schools for high level California talent yet. Even though I think both of those two are great prospects and have offers from those schools, they are probably in the next tier of top players from the state.
It would be much different if UW landed an early commitment from someone like Javon McKinley or Tyler Vaughns. Those two and some others are bigger priorities for USC and UCLA than Wattenberg or McGrew.
I don't think Petersen is quite there yet. If he lands one or more of the top fifteen players in California later on and starts doing it on a consistent basis in future years, then I think you can legitimately say that he can compete with those schools for the top recruits from California.
UWDP: Wellington is listed as an "Athlete" by most services and appears to be a candidate for either RB or LB - from what you've seen, where do you think he best projects at the college level?
JU: He is really impressive at running back, but I think his future is brightest as linebacker. Everyone is looking for difference making athletes at linebacker and a lot of those guys may not fit the traditional roles that used to be assigned to the position. Versatility and the ability to stay on the field and be fast enough to compete against the new spread offenses is more important than ever. Obviously UW fans know this because they got a chance to watch how great Shaq Thompson was and how valuable having an athlete like him can be for a defense.
I think Wellington has the tools to play in that Shaq Thompson role on defense for the Huskies. Who knows, maybe he'll get to dabble at running back too just like Thompson did.
UWDP: Similarly, Rapp is listed as a S by most services but appears to have enough size to potentially move up to LB. Do you think he has the coverage skills to stick as a DB, or do you see him growing into a LB at the college level?
JU: I see him sticking at safety. He might be able to get big enough to play linebacker, but his instincts in coverage are so good and he's a fluid athlete for his size. I don't the see the stiffness in his transitions that are common for other players his height/size.
I will say that he is an extremely physical player that would probably be capable of playing linebacker if they wanted him to. Finding good safeties is really hard to do though, so I think they'll likely keep him there.
UWDP: Washington landed a strong OL class in 2015 with guys like Trey Adams, Henry Roberts, Jared Hilbers (along with greyshirt Devin Burleson from the 2014 class) - how does Wattenberg stack up in comparison in your view?
JU: I'm a big fan of Adams and his potential and think Roberts is very good prospect as well, but I actually think Wattenberg may have the highest ceiling out of the bunch. He has great feet is a phenomenal athlete at the position. He needs to get a lot stronger and do a better job of sustaining blocks, but I think he has the potential to be an all-conference player at left tackle.
For the upside, I would have Wattenberg at the top with Adams and Roberts just below him.
UWDP: Every year the position that gets the most attention in recruiting is QB. With Jacob Eason committed to Georgia and Matt Fink committed to USC, it appears Washington is scrambling a bit. They have offers out to Max Gilliam (Cal commit) and Dillon Sterling-Cole out of Texas, and appear to have interest in Kevin Davidson and Justin Herbert. Do you have any favorites among that group?
JU: Sterling-Cole is a good player and probably the top quarterback that hasn't committed on the board at several schools, but Gilliam is the guy I like the most out of that group.
Even though I knew he was committed to Cal, he looked like a Chris Petersen quarterback to me when I watched his film. He shows an awareness in the pocket that many quarterbacks never develop. He handles pressure extremely well and shows great escapability to avoid the rush.
I personally liked his film a lot better than Matt Fink's and think their ranking should be flipped. I'm not sure if he's going to seriously consider UW or not, but he would be an outstanding pickup if they can flip him from the Bears. I wouldn't be surprised to see him eventually get a bump up in the rankings before all is said and done.
As always, a big thank you! to Jamie for taking the time to do this. Check out his work at Pacific Takes and Son of a Coach and give him a follow on Twitter @jamieuyeyama