The Huskies missed out on big-time targets at wide receiver, but otherwise one could argue this is the best of Petersen’s three UW classes.
There are two recruits from Texas, two from Arizona, seven from California, one from Oregon and five from right here in Washington. There are eight recruits on offense, eight on defense and one punter.
The Huskies’ third recruiting class of the Chris Petersen era has footprints all over the map, and there’s perfect balance on both sides of the ball to blend into a team many project to be a contender in the Pac-12 North in 2016.
The 17 new prospects expected to sign with Washington on National Signing Day did so Wednesday — no more, no less — on what Petersen described as an “awesome, exciting, uneventful day.” It’s the third year in a row in which there has been very little intrigue surrounding UW on signing day, which Petersen prefers.
“And I’m really proud of these kids we signed,” he said. “In this day and age, to make it uneventful takes a little bit more work and a little bit more strongness of will, so to speak. Because there’s a lot of good players here that were recruited by a lot of people, and just to keep the drama out of it and stay true to what they decided to do — we’re really proud of those guys.”
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UW’s class is ranked No. 29 in the nation by both Scout and 247Sports. The Huskies missed out on big-time targets at wide receiver, but otherwise one could argue this is the best of Petersen’s three UW classes, even with the smaller class size.
The Huskies continued to keep most of the state’s top talent home, and they continued to fortify their stellar defensive secondary.
It’s difficult to imagine anyone eclipsing safety Budda Baker, the local star from Bellevue, as a more important recruit to come to UW during Petersen’s tenure. Two years ago, Baker signed with Petersen less than two months after the new coach arrived from Boise State.
But Wednesday’s signing of cornerback Byron Murphy marks an evolution of UW’s recruitment; it not only reflects the progress made over the past two seasons — most notably on defense — but also the confidence such a blue-chip recruit has in what Petersen and his staff are doing.
Murphy, from Scottsdale, Ariz., is the nation’s No. 40 prospect according to Rivals.com, the highest-ranked recruit ever to sign with Petersen. Murphy will play cornerback at UW — and get a chance to join the Husky basketball team, too — but Petersen said he’s good enough to play wide receiver as well.
“He’s going to do some special things,” Petersen said.
The Huskies’ defensive secondary, led by Baker and sophomore cornerback Sidney Jones, was already the stingiest in the Pac-12 last fall, allowing just 11 touchdowns with 15 interceptions. Now Murphy joins fellow four-star signees Isaiah Gilchrist of Bellevue, Taylor Rapp of Bellingham and Kentrell Love of Corona, Calif., in an impressive secondary class.
Petersen credited that to the recruiting prowess of secondary coach Jimmy Lake, promoted to co-defensive coordinator in December.
“I think people pay attention to what’s going on, and people see how good our secondary was, how these guys developed,” Petersen said. “If you’ve been around Jimmy, talk to him, talk football with him, you kind of see, ‘Hey this guy’s pretty good.’ So people are doing their research.”
UW’s offense added the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year in quarterback Daniel Bridge Gadd, the California Gatorade player of the year in running back Sean McGrew, but this class’ strength is on defense, even beyond the secondary.
Four-star end Levi Onwuzurike was The Dallas Morning News’ defensive player of the year, and four-star Camilo Eifler joins Brandon Wellington and Amandre Williams as the three outside linebackers in this class, each of whom will get a chance to play early.
With Wellington, Williams, Gilchrist, Rapp and punter Van Soderberg, the Huskies have signed 19 of the top in-state recruits over the past three seasons.
“If we can continue to take steps in the right way, everybody loves a winner,” Petersen said. “And if they grow up seeing the Huskies win and win and win, that starts really getting this ball rolling, and that’s how it should be. Kids around here should want to stay here and play for their hometown school.”
• Petersen on Wednesday also reintroduced outside linebacker Myles Rice as the 18th member of this class. Rice, an outside linebacker from Houston, was part of UW’s 2015 class before grayshirting last year, delaying his enrollment until January. Thus, he will be a true freshman this year.