The Washington Huskies signed all five state Blue Chip recruits, but lost a couple of players they had hoped to land.
Signing day didn’t yield the kind of recruiting surprises the Washington Huskies were hoping for as three players who at one point seemed destined to sign with UW went elsewhere.
Coach Steve Sarkisian, however, preferred to focus on the previous 364 days, when the Huskies put together the heart and soul of a class that was ranked in the top 25 by the major recruiting services — No. 19 by Scout.com and No. 23 by Rivals.com.
“I don’t need any more drama in my life,” Sarkisian said of UW being largely absent from the national signing day news conferences, noting that the Huskies did a lot of the heavy lifting months ago when they secured commitments from receiver Kasen Williams of Skyline and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Gig Harbor.
“I appreciate the fact that we’ve recruited really high-character kids that believe in what we are doing and we have developed really strong relationships with and trust with, and if we have to sacrifice that for a little hoopla on signing day, that’s OK.”
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Williams and Seferian-Jenkins, each top-100 national recruits, were among nine state players who signed with UW on the first day that high-school players could officially put their name on letters of intent. The Huskies signed 22 players.
That included all five of The Seattle Times’ Blue Chip players, the others being defensive linemen Danny Shelton of Auburn and Taniela Tupou of Archbishop Murphy near Mill Creek and running back Bishop Sankey of Gonzaga Prep in Spokane.
“That’s been our philosophy since day one, that you have to take care of your own backyard,” Sarkisian said. “That’s how we are going to get great around here.”
Sarkisian said he hoped it sent a message to other schools around the nation.
“Those are big wins for us, in our opinion,” he said. “And we are hopefully setting a precedent of what we are about when we are recruiting the state of Washington, and hopefully that is a little discouraging to some of these other schools to want to try to come up here and try to recruit against us.”
Williams and Seferian-Jenkins are considered among the best players in the nation at their positions, and Williams was recently named the Parade Magazine player of the year. Each committed to UW last August and resisted overtures to look elsewhere.
Washington also held off Oregon to keep Shelton and was able to talk Sankey out of a previous verbal commitment to Washington State.
Tupou, who committed last spring, sent in the first letter of the day to UW from Texas, where he is playing in a high-school all-star game.
Washington signed four other state players — offensive lineman Dexter Charles of Stanwood, defensive end Connor Cree of Skyline, receiver Jamaal Jones of Graham-Kapowsin and linebacker/tight end Jarett Finau of Juanita in Kirkland. Also signing was safety Evan Zeger, formerly of Skyline and now at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas.
Finally being able to talk about dominating the state took some of the sting out of three players who at one point had been committed to UW but signed elsewhere — cornerback Kameron Jackson of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, offensive lineman Paulay Asiata of Honolulu and defensive lineman Stephan Nembot of Van Nuys, Calif.
Jackson had been committed to UW since April but had recently taken a trip to California and said he was reopening his recruitment. He announced recently that he was recommitting to Washington, something his coach, Raul Lara, confirmed to The Seattle Times twice. But Cal apparently kept pushing, and Jackson signed with the Bears.
Asiata, regarded as the No. 1 recruit in Hawaii out of Saint Louis High, had announced two weeks ago he was committing to UW. But rumblings surfaced in recent days he was instead going to Colorado, and he signed with the Buffs.
Also signing with Colorado was Nembot, the Cameroon native who had reneged on a commitment to Washington State made last fall to announce two weeks ago he would sign with UW. But he took a trip to Colorado over the weekend and Wednesday night announced on local TV in Los Angeles he would sign with the Buffs.
Sarkisian, though, didn’t sound too concerned, saying: “It’s fun for people to win signing day. To me what is more important is winning Saturday afternoons in season.”
Washington, however, added one player not on previous commitment lists, Antavius Sims of Americus, Ga., and Ventura (Calif.) College. Sims played quarterback at Ventura and could get looks at cornerback and QB with the Huskies.
Washington signed 12 players from California.
The Huskies are also waiting to hear on QB Jacoby Brissett of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Brissett apparently will not decide until Friday, though The Orlando Sun-Sentinel reported that he appears to be favoring Miami.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org