Four-star 2019 wide receiver Puka Nacua decided not to sign with anybody on Wednesday as he continues to consider his options. So, is Washington still in the running for the most prolific high school wide receiver the state of Utah has ever produced?
Chris Petersen didn’t say Puka Nacua’s name.
He couldn’t, since the NCAA explicitly forbids college football coaches from mentioning unsigned prospects. And though national signing day has come and gone, Nacua — a 6-foot-2, 190-pound wide receiver and consensus four-star recruit — remains unexpectedly unsigned.
That’s because the Orem (Utah) High School standout, tentative USC commit and Washington target decided on Wednesday not to make a decision, according to a report by the Deseret News.
“We need more time to break down the information and talk,” Nacua’s mother, Penina Nacua, told the Deseret News in a text. “We’ve been too busy and unable to find quality time.”
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So Washington will wait, as will fellow finalists Oregon, USC, UCLA and Utah. They’ll wait because Nacua — the Polynesian Bowl’s offensive MVP and Utah state record-holder for single-season receiving yards (2,336) and receiving touchdowns (26) as well as career receiving yards (5,226), touchdown catches (58) and receptions (260) — certainly seems worth it.
UW might even need Nacua more than their competition, considering that the Huskies noticeably lacked a No. 1 wide receiver in 2018 and signed just one wideout — three-star prospect Taj Davis — and zero tight ends in December.
Technically, Nacua can sign with his school of choice any time between Wednesday and April 1, or he could forego a National Letter of Intent and simply enroll in the summer.
So, Petersen was asked on Wednesday, would there be room for another prospect — without naming names — to join UW’s 22-man class at a later date?
“We’re recruiting 24/7,” he said. “We’re recruiting two years back from now, if we find the right guys. It’s always …”
Then Petersen stopped and smiled.
“It’s always recruiting season.”
Incorporating Junior Adams
Washington hired former Western Kentucky offensive coordinator Junior Adams to be its wide receivers coach on Jan. 17.
National signing day was set for Feb. 6.
So, in a shade under three weeks, what could the former Boise State assistant truly contribute?
“He was just here a short time in this recruiting process,” Petersen said. “It’s a long process, so it was awesome to have him with us a little bit to show our style and get him to know some of our kids.”
Adams will be tasked with upgrading an underwhelming wide receiver corps in 2019 and improving upon a recruiting effort that nabbed just one receiver signee in the current class (so far).
He previously worked as the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Western Kentucky (2017-18) and also coached wide receivers at Boise State (2014-15) and Eastern Washington (2009-13).
But he hasn’t worked with Petersen, until now.
“We’re really excited to have him here,” Petersen said. “He’s interesting. He’s one of the guys that I haven’t coached with, but I feel like I have because he’s been around so many people that I know and he’s been so close. So to finally get him here and be with him is awesome, because he knows our system. He knows that system pretty well.”
Adams’ goal in the next few days will be to sell that system to Puka Nacua.
Fowler spurns scholarship offers to walk on at Washington
Drew Fowler was offered scholarships by UCLA, Utah, Louisville and Oregon State.
Instead, the Bellevue High School inside linebacker opted to walk on at Washington.
“Growing up in the shadow of Montlake, Husky football has always been the team and the place to root for,” Fowler tweeted on Wednesday afternoon. “I played my first football game in that stadium eight years ago, and now I look forward to continuing to write my own story in the purple and gold, against all odds.
“All I could ever ask for was the chance to compete, and I have made the decision to bet on myself and walk on at the University of Washington.”
In Fowler, the Huskies are getting a 6-foot-2, 210-pound linebacker ranked by 247Sports as a three-star prospect and the No. 44 inside linebacker in the 2019 class. He’ll join a freshman class featuring scholarship linebackers Daniel Heimuli, Josh Calvert, Miki Ah You and Alphonzo Tuputala.
In turn, Fowler will get an opportunity.
“The thing that I like about how we’ve always run our program is, walk-on, scholarship, it doesn’t matter,” Petersen said. “When you come in this locker room we are all the same. The guys that’s produce, they play. So we’ll have some good walk ons that will help us.”
When the basketball team wins, the football team wins?
Mike Hopkins’ UW basketball team is currently 18-4 overall and 9-0 in Pac-12 play.
But has that recent success positively affected football recruiting when it comes to players on official visits?
“That’s awesome,” Petersen said. “Sometimes (the official visits) don’t coordinate, visit-wise, when they’re going to be here. But if we get a basketball game … those guys are doing such a great job.
“It’s like those guys taking their players to a football game when Husky Stadium is filled up. There’s nothing like it. You go into that juiced-up arena. Everybody likes energy, right? That’s what it’s all about.”
Early signing period is here to stay
Washington signed 20 of its 22 2019 commits during December’s early signing period.
That’s not a coincidence.
And Petersen, for one, is not surprised.
“I just think it goes to what we’ve known all along, that some of these guys are decided in the summer time or in the fall,” Petersen said. “I think that’s why the coaches were always pushing this so much. Why don’t we just sign them early? Why do we have to drag this out another month and a half or so?
“Because they’re ready to sign. Since we’ve had that early signing period, that’s what you’ve seen. They’ve been ready.”
Devin Burleson moves on
As for the current roster, Petersen provided just one personnel update on Wednesday. Devin Burleson — a 6-foot-8, 327-pound redshirt junior offensive lineman — has earned his degree and will leave football behind to pursue graduate school. The Palmdale, Calif., native appeared in 11 games in his UW career.