UW co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake on touted cornerback Byron Murphy: “I’ve never seen ball-skills like this in my lifetime coaching. ... He could easily play wide receiver or corner for any college in America."

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As expected, the Huskies signed 17 recruits for their 2016 class on Wednesday. A look at the eight players on defense, plus punter Van Soderberg:

6-4, 262, Allen HS, Allen, Texas

Four-star recruit named the Dallas Morning News’ All-Area Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 … also named the District 6-6A Defensive MVP, first-team All-Collin County and honorable mention all-state … helped Allen to a 14-1 record and the semifinals of the Class 6A Division I playoffs … team was ranked No. 20 in the final USA Today poll of 2015 … notched 53 tackles, including 8.5 for a loss, as a senior … as a junior, helped lead the Eagles to a perfect 16-0 record and a third consecutive 2014 Class 6A Division I state championship.


6-2, 214, Bishop O’Dowd HS, Berkeley, Calif.

Played for UW legend Napoleon Kaufman at O’Dowd … named first-team All-West Alameda County Conference-Foothill League at outside linebacker … played in Army All-American game. … Scout’s 94th-ranked prospect in the nation.

UW linebackers coach Bob Gregory: “Maybe the rawest player we’ve got coming in, and I mean that in a great way. This guy’s got such a huge upside.”




6-0, 215, Eastside Catholic HS, Kent

Led Eastside Catholic to back-to-back Class 3A state championships, scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard run in overtime to cap a 28-point comeback against Bellevue in December … Crusaders finished 13-0 his senior year … One of The Seattle Times’ four blue chip recruits this year … returned five of 11 kick returns for TDs as a senior, and also returned two of his five interceptions for TDs … consensus No. 225 recruit nationally.

Eastside Catholic coach Jeremy Thielbahr: ““Brandon is one of those plays that comes around very rarely. As talented as he is, he’s as hard of a worker, and he really loves football authentically. He loves the game. And I really think he is the epitome of what Coach Petersen describes as an OKG.”


6-2, 223, Tahoma HS, Maple Valley

Versatile enough to play both quarterback and defensive end, earning first-team All-South Puget Sound League at both positions … led the SPSL with 3,235 passing yards (on 241-for-402 passing) for 29 touchdowns as a senior … also had 79.5 tackles, including 17.5 for a loss … slated to play outside linebacker for the Huskies … Plans to enroll at UW in time for the start of spring practices on March 28.

Tahoma coach Tony Davis: “He’s a special young man. He’s just wired for success, and it’s going to fun to watch him develop.”


5-10, 188, Bellevue HS, Bellevue
Gilchrist continues UW’s strong connection to Bellevue as he follows former prep teammate Budda Baker into UW’s defensive secondary. … A four-star recruit, Gilchrist is the consensus No. 254 recruit nationally and one of The Seattle Times’ four blue chip recruits this year. … Had three interceptions in a state semifinal victory in 2015. … Played varsity as a freshman and sophomore, helping Bellevue to consecutive undefeated seasons and two Class 3A state titles.


6-1, 165, Centennial HS, Corona, Calif.

Four-star recruit had 51 tackles and four interceptions as a senior in 2015, when the Huskies went 14-1, defeating Sean McGrew and St. John Bosco to win the CIF Southern Section Pac 5 Division championship … named first-team All-Big VIII League in 2015 … Scout’s No. 254-ranked recruit in the nation.

UW co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake: “What I love about Kentrell is his physical style of play. He’s extremely long. … If a receiver does catch a ball on him, he’s going to pay for it.”


5-11, 172, Saguaro HS, Scottsdale, Ariz.

The highest-ranked recruit ever to sign with Chris Petersen, Murphy surprised many two weeks ago when he committed to UW over Arizona State. … The Arizona Republic Division II player of the year led the Sabercats to back-to-back state championships in 2014 and ’15. … As a senior, caught 88 passes for 1,733 yards and 21 touchdowns and also credited with seven interceptions and 52 total tackles. … Played in the Army All-American Bowl game, where he had an interception. … Also plans to walk-on to UW’s basketball team.

Lake: “I’ve never seen ball-skills like this in my lifetime coaching. This guy just has a knack for tracking the football in the air. He could easily play wide receiver or corner for any college in America. Extremely excited about his athleticism, ball-skills but also his football IQ.”


5-11, 196, Sehome HS, Bellingham

Rated a four-star recruit by ESPN, signed early and enrolled at UW in early January. Named to USA Today all-state first-team after posting 117 tackles, seven tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and three interceptions in 2015. … Also invited to Army All-American Bowl game. … Played safety, quarterback, running back and receiver at Sehome.

Lake: “Big-time safety. Super athletic. The thing I love about Taylor (is) he plays with extreme toughness. He’s very, very athletic. … Very, very excited about Taylor Rapp.”


6-0, 200, Capital HS, Olympia

Plans to enroll at UW in time to participate in spring practices starting March 28, which should give him a leg up in the competition to find a new punter for next fall. Averaged 39 yards per punt and also went 10-for-10 on field goals as a senior, earning first-team All-Narrows League 4A at both kicker and punter.

UW special-teams coach Bob Gregory: “He can rugby kick; he can kick from deep. This will be a good get for us, and really help our special teams.”


NOTE: Huskies again announced the signing of defensive end Myles Rice from Houston, Texas. Rice was part of UW’s 2015 class before grayshirting last year, meaning he delayed his enrollment until January. He will be considered a true freshman in 2016.