Thanks to a strict and meticulous recruiting process, the Huskies rarely are surprised on National Signing Day, and that should be the case again Wednesday.
One of college football’s major holidays, national signing day, arrives Wednesday, and with it much hype and fanfare about the next wave of potential stars coming to a campus near you.
It’s the one day a year when fax machines and land lines are more important than laptops and WiFi, when high-school recruits sit in front of cameras looking a bit like amateur magicians, choosing hats and flipping coins and graying the hairs of some of the sport’s most distinguished coaches.
A fun day, eh?
For the Washington Huskies, signing day will be a chance to celebrate a recruiting class that again is ranked in the top half of the Pac-12 by the major recruiting sites. Ultimately, though, it’s expected to be another drama-free day around UW.
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The Huskies, it appears, unwrapped all their presents and let off all their fireworks, if you will, before the calendar flipped to February, the sort of anticlimactic finish that is becoming the norm for UW under Chris Petersen.
“That’s how we like it,” Petersen said on signing day last year.
Washington received 17 verbal commitments from recruits for this class, and by the time Petersen begins his signing-day news conference Wednesday afternoon, the Huskies should have received 17 signed letters of intent.
Thanks to a strict and meticulous recruiting process, the Huskies rarely are surprised. Of the 17 recruits in this class, 13 made commits to UW before Halloween. And once a recruit has made such a pledge to UW, Petersen essentially asks them to shut down their recruiting — no visits to other schools.
That strategy might turn away some high-profile prospects who like the attention and publicity generated by a prolonged recruitment, Scout.com national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins said. But the approach has worked for the Huskies: This will be Petersen’s second class in a row in which not one recruit has “flipped” or “decommitted,” terms that are a regular part of the playbook at some schools. Not so at UW.
“It’s pretty unique this day and age,” Biggins said. “I wish more schools would do it (like that). I’m old school, I guess, but I hate how football recruiting is when a recruit commits and then recruiting really starts (for them). But I think it is unique and it is effective for UW.”
“It’s a great class. I love it,” Biggins said. “They filled a lot of needs at key spots, and there’s nice balance.”
The Huskies again found success mining local talent, keeping five of the state’s top prospects in Washington. The notable exception is Lake Stevens’ Jacob Eason, considered by many the top quarterback in the nation. Despite a late push by UW, among others, Eason stuck with his longtime commitment to Georgia.
Despite that limited available scholarships, UW managed to close out this class with four commitments in January. Four-star cornerback Byron Murphy of Scottsdale, Ariz., surprised many when he chose the Huskies over Arizona State 10 days ago. He’s one of the highest-rated recruits to commit to Petersen.
Levi Onwuzurike is a 260-pound four-star defensive end from one of Dallas’ better teams, and the second Texan to join this UW class (with receiver Aaron Fuller, also from Allen, Texas, who committed in July). Running back Kamari Pleasant and receiver Jordan Chin also made verbal commits to UW in late January.
Some UW fans are holding out hope for a signing-day stunner from De La Salle High School teammates Boss Tagaloa and Devin Asiasi, four-star recruits who have listed the Huskies among their finalists. It would, however, be a major upset if either wound up choosing UW during their ESPN announcement.
In the end, it should be another solid — if quiet — signing day at UW. Just how the Huskies like it.
NOTE: Blake Gregory, the quarterback at Skyline High School in Sammamish, announced he has accepted UW’s invitation to be a preferred walk-on. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Gregory threw for more than 3,200 yards with 36 touchdowns and five interceptions in leading Skyline to the Class 4A title game in December. Scout reported Gregory had scholarship offers from lower-division schools such at Montana State, Idaho State and UC Davis.