Headlined by Jake Browning, Myles Gaskin and Trey Adams, the 2015 class helped the Huskies shatter the school scoring record last season.
A week ago, the Huskies announced the signing of 18 recruits for their 2017 recruiting class. Today, a review of Washington’s 2015 recruiting class.
In their first recruiting class at Washington, Chris Petersen and his coaching staff did well to bring in a respectable crop of talent on National Signing Day in 2014.
That class featured defensive backs Budda Baker and Sidney Jones, both potential first-round NFL draft picks this year, and when considered the complications of recruiting during a coaching transition, it is in hindsight a pretty impressive class.
A year later, with a full recruiting cycle to work with, UW coaches put together an even better class — a class that will go down as one of the best in program history.
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Two years, Petersen has said, is typically the earliest opportunity to offer a reasonable assessment of a particular recruiting class. In the case of UW’s 2015 class, a review two years later reveals the nucleus of an offense that helped the Huskies win the Pac-12 championship and reached the College Football Playoff.
The class was headlined by four-star quarterback Jake Browning, who broke all kinds of national passing records in high school and in just two years in college has broken all kinds of records at UW. He’s on pace to be the most prolific quarterback the Huskies have ever had.
Like Browning, four-star running back Myles Gaskin and four-star left tackle Trey Adams started as true freshmen during UW’s 2015 rebuilding season. Like Browning, Gaskin and Adams were first-team all-Pac-12 selections as sophomores in 2016.
Gaskin has 2,675 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns in two seasons — with two more seasons of eligibility to track down Napoleon Kaufman’s school rushing record of 4,106 yards. Adams started all 14 games for the Huskies last fall and, at 6-feet-8, 309 pounds, looks the part of a future first-round NFL draft pick.
Four-star receiver Chico McClatcher, after appearing in every game as a true freshman in 2015, emerged as one of the Huskies’ most versatile offensive weapons last fall. He was another key piece in an offense that set a UW record with 585 points in 2016 (and 41.8 points per game).
Linebacker DJ Beavers, as the late-season fill-in for injured star Azeem Victor, started in UW’s national semifinal loss to Alabama, and a handful of others from the 2015 has class have been regular contributors already: Ben Burr-Kirven, Tevis Bartlett, Jordan Miller, Austin Joyner and Benning Potoa’e.
Joyner and Miller are potential starters at cornerback in the Huskies’ new-look secondary next fall.
Historically, Don James’ 1988 recruiting class looks like the best in school history, at least in the modern era. That class produced two College Football Hall of Famers — DT Steve Emtman, OT Lincoln Kennedy — plus WR Mario Bailey, QB Mark Brunell, LB Dave Hoffmann, WR Orlando McKay, WR Walter Bailey, RB Jay Barry and LB Jaime Fields, and helped the Huskies win three consecutive Pac-10 titles, two Rose Bowls and a share of the ’91 national championship. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Among some of the other notable recruiting classes in recent UW history:
1978: CB Ray Horton, LB Mark Jerue, DT Fletcher Jenkins, LB Mark Stewart, WR Anthony Allen.
1987: CB Dana Hall, C Ed Cunningham, TE Aaron Pierce, OT Siupeli Malamala.
1991: RB Napoleon Kaufman, TE Mark Bruener, QB Damon Huard, DT Steve Hoffmann.
2001: WR Reggie Williams, WR Charles Frederick, OT Joe Toledo, QB Taylor Barton, QB Casey Paus, OLB Kai Ellis.
2013: WR John Ross III, LB Azeem Victor, LB Keishawn Bierria, OL Coleman Shelton, DE Joe Mathis, RB Lavon Coleman, CB Kevin King, DL Elijah Qualls.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Of the 24 recruits who signed with UW two years ago, 23 remain on the roster. An updated look at the Huskies’ 2015 class:
Trey Adams, left tackle: In 2015, became the first true freshman to start at left tackle for the Huskies and the first true freshman offensive lineman to play for Chris Petersen. In 2016, started all 14 games and was named to the all-Pac-12 first-team and the FWAA All-America second team.
Andre Baccellia, WR: As a redshirt freshman, appeared in all 14 games in 2016, with seven catches for 98 yards and one touchdown, including one catch for 15 yards vs. Alabama in the Peach Bowl.
Tevis Bartlett, SAM LB: The former national wrestling champion played in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2015. Missed two games midway through the 2016 season with an unspecified injury, but came on strong at the end of the season. Had three tackles for loss, including two quarterback sacks, against Arizona State; a team-high seven tackles, including two for a loss, against Colorado in the Pac-12 title game; and had a sack against Alabama.
DJ Beavers, MLB: As a redshirt freshman, started the final four games last fall in place of the injured Azeem Victor. Had his best game in the Apple Cup, with his first career interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Jake Browning, QB: Was one of the most prolific high school quarterbacks ever, with a national-record 229 touchdown passes in three seasons, and is now on pace to shatter virtually every major passing record at UW. The Pac-12 offensive player of the year tied the conference record with 43 touchdown passes, despite playing the final four games with an injured throwing shoulder that required surgery last month. He’s expected to recover in time for the start of spring practices March 27.
Ben Burr-Kirven, MLB: A coaches’ favorite, played in 12 of 13 games as a true freshman in 2015, then was the top reserve at inside linebacker last fall. Had a carer-high six tackles in the Pac-12 title game, and five more vs. Alabama. Also named to the all-Pac-12 academic first team.
A.J. Carty, long snapper: Redshirted in 2015 and then served as the punt snapper in the final four games of 2016.
Myles Gaskin, RB: The O’Dea product set a UW freshman record with 1,302 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015. Followed that with 1,373 yards and 10 touchdowns in earning all-Pac-12 first team honors in 2016. Needs 1,431 yards to match Napoleon Kaufman’s career rushing record.
Jared Hilbers, OL: After a redshirt season in 2015, the 6-7, 285-pound tackle appeared in six games as a reserve in 2016.
Austin Joyner, CB: The Marysville-Pilchuck product tore his ACL in the second game of the 2015 season, missing the remainder of the year. As a redshirt freshman last fall, primarily saw time on special teams in both coverage units and as the No. 2 kick returner behind John Ross. Made a spectacular catch for his first career interception in the Huskies’ win over Oregon State. One of the first in line to take over as a starting cornerback in 2017.
Kyler Manu, LB: Redshirted in 2015 and appeared in mop-up duty in UW’s victories over Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State.
Chico McClatcher, WR: The 5-7, 179-pound slot receiver from Federal Way is one of UW’s most dynamic playmakers, posting 31 catches for 574 yards and five touchdowns — and leading the Pac-12 with 18.5 yards per reception. Also had one rushing touchdown. Missed most of two games midway through the 2016 season with a knee injury.
Ricky McCoy, DL: Redshirted in 2015 and appeared in two games in ’16. Up to 301 pounds, figures to have a bigger role in the D-line rotation in ’17.
Jordan Miller, CB: Played in all 13 games as a true freshman and was a key special-teams contributor as a sophomore last fall. Had an interception late in the Apple Cup to help seal the Huskies’ blowout victory. Like Joyner, is one of the favorites to take over as a starting cornerback in ’17.
Michael Neal, TE: Redshirted in 2015 and saw his 2016 season cut short by an apparent knee injury.
Benning Potoa’e, OLB: Touted defensive end from Lakes High learned a new position at outside linebacker while redshirting in 2015. With injuries to Joe Mathis and Connor O’Brien, Potoa’e made his first career starting against Colorado in the Pac-12 title game and ought to push for a greater role next fall.
Quinten Pounds, WR: Knee injury cut short his true freshman season in 2015. As a redshirt freshman last fall, started two games and finished the season with six catches for 86 yards and one TD. Had a 12-yard reception vs. Alabama.
Isaiah Renfro, WR: A four-star recruit from Los Angeles, appeared in all 13 games as true freshman in 2015, then announced in May 2016 that he was leaving football to focus on his battle with depression and anxiety.
Myles Rice, OLB: The Houston native suffered a season-ending knee injury as a high school senior, then as a grayshirt delayed his enrollment at UW until January 2016. Used his redshirt season last fall.
Henry Roberts, OL: The touted prospect from Bellevue High redshirted in 2015 and appeared in two games as a redshirt freshman last fall. Figures to be one of several players in line to replace the graduated Jake Eldrenkamp at left guard in 2017.
Jason Scrempos, DL: Redshirted during the 2015, after which he had shoulder surgery. Appeared in two games in 2016.
Bryce Sterk, DL: Lynden High product redshirted in 2015. Appeared in two games in 2016 but missed most of the year with an injury.
Ezekiel Turner, S: Junior-college transfer made one start in 2015 and another in 2016. Is one of UW’s best special-teams performaners and one of its most-feared hitters. Will be a senior in 2017.
Jusstis Warren, OLB: Graduate of Tacoma’s Lincoln High redshirted in 2015 and appeared in five games in 2016.