Barring any last-minute defections, University of Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian will welcome a batch of at least 20 new players after national letters of intent are received by the school Wednesday. Huskies fans hope that Sarkisian’s third recruiting class will be notable as much for the players he’s lured as for the ones he failed to hook.
Early Monday, for example, 6-9, 310-pound Lakes High lineman Zach Banner, one of the state’s most-prized recruits, snubbed Washington in favor of USC. But if Sacramento safety Shaquille Thompson (Grant High School), considered by some the No. 1 player in the nation at his position and one of the top five regardless of position, follows through on his late Monday tweet (and confirming texts to reporters) and casts his lot with Washington instead of California, Sarkisian would get a significant boost.
On Tuesday afternoon, Washington received another oral commitment, this from Jordan Payton of Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village, CA., ranked as the No. 15 wide receiver nationally by Scout.com. Payton, 6-2 and 205, made an early commitment to USC, changed to Cal and then took his official visit to Washington a couple of weeks ago, where Eric Kiesau, former Cal assistant, just became UW’s offensive coordinator.
Thompson also originally announced on behalf of California, with Washington widely considered a close second choice. But Sarkisian’s hiring of Cal defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi apparently caused Thompson to re-think his options. Lupoi reportedly was the main reason Thompson originally said he would sign with the Bears.
Excluding Thompson, Sarkisian’s top two recruits, in fact the only two in the incoming class ranked above three stars by all the major recruiting web sites, are quarterbacks, Jeff Lindquist of Mercer Island High School and Cyler Miles of of Mullen High School in Denver.
Lindquist, a 6-foot-3, 225-pounder who also had a scholarship offer to Stanford, made his choice of Washington public in April, and has never wavered. Mercer Island High has set a signing event for Wednesday afternoon at the school.
A four-star player, Lindquist led the West to a 17-14 victory over the East in the Semper Fidelis Bowl in Phoenix by throwing two touchdown passes. Scout.com named him the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Miles originally announced for Washington at about the same time Lindquist did, but took a recruiting trip to USC a couple of weeks ago. He has since re-confirmed his intention to sign with Washington.
Washington apparently is still in the running for another highly rated receiver, Jaydon Mickens of Dorsey High in Los Angeles. He was expected to make his choice Tuesday.
Among the in-state players UW couldn’t land: KeiVarae Russell, a 5-11, 180-pound running back from Mariner (Everett), who opted for Notre Dame; receiver Cedric Dozier (Lakes), a Banner teammate who said Tuesday he chose Cal over Washington State and new coach Mike Leach; and 6-5, 288-pound Joshua Garnett from Puyallup, who chose Stanford over Michigan. Garnett’s father, Scott, played nose tackle for the Huskies in the early 1980s.
The following are considered the likeliest Washington signees (they are listed according to verbal commitment date):
|4/29/11||Jeff Lindquist||QB||8||6-3/225||Mercer Island|
|5/17/11||Darien Washington||CB||131||5-11/175||Orange, CA.|
|6/12/11||Dwayne Washington||WR||171||6-2/210||Cerritos, CA.|
|6/14/11||Malcolm Jackson||DE||175||6-1/260||Spring Valley, CA|
|6/18/11||Blake Rodgers||MLB||48||6-2/220||Las Flores, CA.|
|6/18/11||Kendyl Taylor||WR||72||6-0/195||Chandler, AZ.|
|6/25/11||Korey Durkee||P||NR||6-4/195||Gig Harbor, WA.|
|6/28/11||Kalei Auelua||DE||89||6-1/240||St. Louis, Honolulu|
|10/31/11||Erich Wilson||RB||112||6-1/185||San Mateo, CA.|
|12/4/11||Ryan McDaniel||MLB||23||6-1/220||North, Torrance, CA|
|12/7/11||Cory Littleton||DE||145||6-4/220||Spring Valley, CA.|
|12/8/11||Josh Banks||DT||JC||6-3/285||Stockton, CA|
|12/14/11||Damion Turpin||DE||66||6-3/255||Compton, CA.|
|1/20/12||Psalm Wooching||FB||9||6-3/205||Kailua Kona, HI.|
|1/26/12||Travis Coons||PK||NR||6-2/195||Walnut, CA.|
|1/31/12||Jordan Payton||WR||15||6-1/205||Westlake Vill., CA.|
The shakiest player on this list might be defensive end Malcolm Jackson, whom Scout.com reports might sign with San Diego State instead.
*=National ranking among players at this position