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Mid-May Defense Recruiting Board Update

Which defensive prospects have the best chance at becoming Dawgs now that we’re in between spring ball and official visit season?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Washington at UCLA Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If you clicked on this article but haven’t read yesterday’s piece on the offense then I recommend heading over there first at this link and reading through the methodology. If you’re confused about the numbers I give here, it’s explained there. But in summary it’s a likelihood score based on all the information we have right now that they end up committing to Washington. The higher the number, the more factors going in UW’s favor at the moment. Players can be compared relative to each other but other schools using the same methodology could end up with a higher score (a player could be from SoCal and taken 2 visits to USC even if they’ve taken a visit to UW and shown interest).

A way to try to interpret the numbers is to use this approximate scale.

— 4.0+ Recruit has been on campus frequently in 2023 and Washington likely in their top couple choices if not the favorite

— 3.0-4.0 Recruit has multiple factors that point toward Washington being a significant player in their recruitment from here forward

— 2.0-3.0 Recruit either has visited UW campus already in 2023 or is a caliber of prospect where UW is likely to be among top few choices

— 1.0-2.0 Recruit is in-region but with low interest in UW or has visited campus in 2023 and is a 4/5-star prospect

— 0.0-1.0 Recruit has a Husky offer but has shown no sign of reciprocating the interest

Defensive Line

Uncommitted Offers Extended: 10

Expected Class Size: 2-3

Highest Scoring Uncommitted: CA 4-star Jericho Johnson (4.5), TX 3-star Omar Khan (2.27), DC 3-star De-Andre Cook (1.91)

This is starting to feel like an “all the eggs in one basket” scenario for the Huskies. The Dawgs are firmly in the thick of things with the 6’4, 300 lb Jericho Johnson. He was at the Michigan State game last fall, has been to campus twice this spring, and coaches visited his high school on Monday. And on top of all that, Johnson has his only official visit scheduled to UW for their big recruiting weekend June 23rd. He said recently he’s working to trim down to a top-7 or top-10 and UW will surely be on that list. But I’m sure the coaching staff is hoping they can get him to shut things down after the official visit and secure their highest ranked DT since Tuitele/Bandes in the class of 2019.

Because things aren’t all that encouraging beyond Johnson. There were only 3 other true defensive tackles to take an unofficial visit so far in 2023 and none have an official visit lined up. Omar Khan out of Texas has seen his offer sheet blow up a bit since my last defense update adding ones from Baylor, Kansas, Maryland, Arizona, and Boise State despite being unranked in the 247 Composite. He’ll certainly see his ranking go up at some point to reflect that interest but it’s never a given to pull a DL out of Texas. No one else scores above a 2.0.

Washington will be losing Tuli Letuligasenoa and Ulumoo Ale to graduation so at a minimum both will need to be replaced. Grabbing an extra defensive lineman just in case also isn’t a bad idea. This is likely a spot that will need to be addressed next December in the portal.

Edge Rushers

Uncommitted Offers Extended: 9

Expected Class Size: 3-4

Highest Scoring Uncommitted: CA 3-star Ratumana Bulabaluvu (2.92), HI 3-star Anelu Lafaele (2.89), AZ 3-star Keona Wilhite (2.88), CA 3-star Damarrion White (2.86), OH 3-star Dominic Kirks (2.82)

Washington will have one of the best starting edge duos in the country this season with Zion Tupuola-Fetui and Bralen Trice. Following Sav’ell Smalls’ transfer though the Huskies are already thin and will only get thinner after next year since there’s the chance UW will lose at least 3 more players. ZTF will graduate, Trice is a likely early draft pick, and Sekai Afoa-Asoau will be out of eligibility as well if he doesn’t redshirt after entering this past fall as a JUCO transfer. That would knock UW down to just 4 scholarship players if Voi Tunuufi isn’t officially moved to an edge spot.

Washington’s offer sheet at this spot so far is a mix of highly rated players and under the radar targets. The Huskies unfortunately lost a good one earlier this year when 4-star Jaxson Jones decommitted from UW and instantly switched his pledge to Oregon. Despite the prolific seasons that Jeremiah Martin and Trice had last year, Eric Schmidt hasn’t been able to fully capitalize on the prep recruiting scene. No one has above a 3.0 score at the moment.

The leader is Ratumana Bulabalavu who put up absurd numbers for a lower level school in California (41.5 sacks last 2 years) and is a cousin of Tuli Letuligasenoa. Washington is his only officially scheduled official visit that has been reported but he has said he wants to visit Oregon, Arizona, and Cal during the month of June as well. He would be another player who somewhat similar to Sioux Falls transfer Zach Durfee has excelled against lesser competition which makes evaluation a little tougher and could give UW another high ceiling/low floor player if he commits.

It was originally reported that Anelu Lafaele would take an official visit to the mainland and see Seattle but that trip has been canceled or else he’d be the leader in the clubhouse. One to watch is Dominic Kirks who is taking an official visit in June despite coming from the state of Ohio. He’s listed as a DL by 247 Sports but at 250 pounds it appears UW is recruiting him as a bigger edge defender. The Lincoln Kienholz situation has to be giving the staff a little bit of pause since if he blows up this fall and Ohio State decides to offer (they’ve been keeping tabs) it seems reasonable to think he’d flip in an instant.

Just yesterday he Huskies offered Leona Wilhite out of Tucson and he immediately booked an official visit to Seattle for the weekend of June 23rd. The 6’5, 236-pounder also will take offers to UCLA, Oregon State, and Arizona. Wilhite is high school teammates with 5-star Elijah Rushing who had UW in his top-12 but the Dawgs don’t appear to be serious contenders at this point.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on Auburn’s Luvens Valcin who took an unofficial visit to UW this past weekend even though he doesn’t yet have an offer. You may have seen on social media that his dad wore a UW hat to his son’s unofficial visit to Wazzu. Suffice to say there are UW fans in the family if the Huskies were to offer. He’d vault to first place in the formula at the position if the coaches did pull the trigger with an offer.


Uncommitted Offers Extended: 9

Expected Class Size: 2-3

Highest Scoring Uncommitted: CA 4-star Kamar Mothudi (4.54), CA 3-star Khmori House (3.88), CA 3-star Logan Studt (2.94)

Washington has been active extending offers to linebackers considering they’re likely only replacing two outgoing players barring an unexpected portal entry. USC transfer Ralen Goforth is a grad transfer with only 1 year of eligibility while Edefuan Ulofoshio will be a senior. The Huskies though will lose another 3 linebackers the following year so they want to try to build up some depth before that happens while a sophomore/junior transfer option being added to this class makes sense.

Washington is looking almost exclusively to the state of California to fill their linebacker position after they have already been cut from the list of Yelm’s 4-star Brayden Platt, the top LB prospect in the state. The best chance for a 4-star addition in this group appears to be Kamar Mothudi who has official visits scheduled right now to Oregon State, Utah, Oregon, and UW during the month of June. The Ducks have the last visit and he was there for the spring game so I’d put them as slight favorites but the Huskies will have a chance in an all Pac-12 battle.

Right now Washington is the only scheduled official visit for Khmori House although he has said he is trying to get visits booked for Tennessee and Oklahoma as well. Washington signed Deven Bryant as a linebacker out of St. John Bosco last cycle and also offered his LB teammates Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa (already eliminated UW) and Ashtin Kekahuna-Lopes. I’m sure the coaching staff is hoping he doesn’t end up getting those other visits scheduled and decides to commit this summer rather than waiting to take more visits in the fall.

There are another 5 players in that 2.0-3.0 range so there are several reasonable contingency plans available for the coaching staff if one of Mothudi or House falls through.


Uncommitted Offers Extended: 12

Expected Class Size: 1-2

Highest Scoring Uncommitted: CA 4-star Marcelles Williams (3.35), CA 3-star Phoenix Rose (3.06), AZ 3-star Jakobi Spence (2.29)

As it currently stands there are no corners set to run out of eligibility following next season. It appears though that there’s still a lot of figuring out roles in the secondary and it could be that with some players getting moved to Husky or Safety that there are more openings at the corner spot than anticipated. The number of offers extended potentially means UW could end up taking more than it looks like they should given the class breakdown.

There are 4 high level players that Washington has survived an initial cut list for but none of them are scheduled to take official visits yet. In fact, there aren’t any players primarily being recruited at corner who are scheduled for an official visit. Washington just made the top-7 for Dakoda Fields but he’s viewed as a heavy Oregon lean. Marcelles Williams is at the top of this list after having been on campus twice this spring and he includes UW in his top-12. Right now though his scheduled official visits have been to UCLA, USC, and Oklahoma which isn’t a great sign.

Perhaps UW’s best chance is with 4-star Isaiah Rubin even though he has a 1.86 score at the moment. Rubin plays in California now but started high school in Las Vegas. He visited last fall to Seattle even though he hasn’t made it out yet in 2023 and doesn’t have any official visits scheduled so it’s not as if UW is behind anyone else in that regard. It seems likely to be a 3-way battle with Utah and USC which is tough but certainly doable.

The #2 and #3 spots in the formula (Rose and Spence) are lightly rated and recruited at the moment. Rose has P5 offers from Arizona, Cal, Colorado, and WSU while Spence only has the one from Washington. If either break out this fall then UW is well positioned but it seems reasonable to think that the coaches may be waiting on them a bit to see how they develop. There’s a lot more action at safety as you’ll see in a moment and it could also be they bring in several bodies there and end up converting one to corner once they’re in the door.


Uncommitted Offers Extended: 15

Expected Class Size: 2-3

Highest Scoring Uncommitted: CA 4-star Peyton Waters (3.73), WA 3-star Kyan McDonald (3.27), CA 3-star Kory Hall (3.12)

The Huskies will definitely need to continue stocking the cupboard at the safety position with long-time starters/contributors Asa Turner and Dom Hampton both set to run out of eligibility after 2023.

The good news is that the safety spot appears to be one where Washington has a lot of traction. The formula is highest right now on Peyton Waters out of Van Nuys who will be part of the June 23rd visit group and also has them lined up to Northwestern (already happened), UCLA, Stanford, and Utah. Think academics are important for him? It’s between UCLA and Washington for best blend of football success/academics while he has stated that Stanford was his dream school growing up. This one shouldn’t come down solely to an NIL battle though which may be good news for the Dawgs.

There are also official visits scheduled from 4-stars Joshua Lair (2.7 score) and Paul Mencke Jr. (1.7 score), both from Texas which knocks them down in the formula a bit. The competition for Lair is fierce as he has official visits scheduled to LSU, Baylor, and Texas in addition to UW. He’s also mentioned potential visits to Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. If Washington wins that battle it will be well-deserved.

Mencke is an interesting one as another guy who highly values academics with official visits scheduled to Notre Dame, Duke, Stanford, and UW. He has ties to Washington despite now living in Texas as his aunt used to work in the football offices at UW and he was raised in Spokane. If I considered him an in-state prospect instead of from Texas he would vault up to 3rd.

The top in-state option is Kyan McDonald out of O’Dea who is just short of the 4-star threshold in the 247 Sports system. He was at the spring game and Washington appears to still be recruiting him but it looks like they may want to see how the visits go with Waters/Lair/Mencke before pushing for a commitment. Things may be in a similar spot for Hall who many schools are recruiting as a WR and only has P5 offers from UW and WSU.

Top-Ten Likelihood Scores on Defense (as of right now)

  1. LB Kamar Mothudi (4.54)
  2. DL Jericho Johnson (4.51)
  3. LB Khmori House (3.88)
  4. DB Peyton Waters (3.73)
  5. CB Marcelles Williams (3.35)
  6. S Kyan McDonald (3.27)
  7. S Kory Hall (3.12)
  8. CB Phoenix Rose (3.06)
  9. S Jaylen Sumlin (3.01)
  10. S Turran Williams (2.97)