Jimmy Lake: "With this class that we just signed, I'm ecstatic about. I think it's one of our best classes we've ever signed."
LOS ANGELES — Four of the five Washington players chosen to represent the Huskies’ defense at a Rose Bowl press conference Saturday morning are from California. Three of them are from Southern California, and two are defensive backs Jimmy Lake personally recruited to Seattle.
“It’s obviously a huge recruiting hotbed for everybody in the country,” said Lake, UW’s co-defensive coordinator. “But with proximity to Seattle, California makes sense. So we’re down here all the time. I spend probably the majority of my time down here — Southern California and Northern California. A lot of big-time players.”
Recruiting California has, of course, long been a priority for the Huskies, and for every program on the West Coast. The Huskies’ success rate in the Golden State — and Lake’s specifically — is as good as it has ever been.
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Earlier this month, the Huskies signed a new class of 20 recruits, 10 of whom are from California. The three defensive backs in the class — Kamren Fabiculanan, Trent McDuffie and Cameron Williams — are all from Southern California.
“With this class that we just signed, I’m ecstatic about. I think it’s one of our best classes we’ve ever signed,” Lake said. “So I think that was a big part of it, to compete at that national level, is making sure you’re getting nationally elite-level type players, and I think we’ve done that.”
Fabiculanan and McDuffie both attended Rose Bowl practices earlier this week. Lake expects Williams to make the trip over from Bakersfield this weekend.
“They came to meetings also and notebook in hand, ready to go … which I love. That means they’re already getting ahead,” Lake said.
Why so much attention on California? That’s an easy answer for UW senior safety JoJo McIntosh, who grew up in Los Angeles.
“I don’t know how all the good football players are from California, but it just happens like that. We play some good football here,” he said. “All the talent is in California. Come down here to Southern Cal or NorCal, you’ll find guys, and those guys are ready to fight and compete.”
Added senior linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, from Menlo Park in the Bay Area: “Our coaching staff does a really good job of trying to come down and steal guys away from the California schools. There’s a lot of talent down here. Look at our team, every position, there’s a couple guys from California.”
Lake, certainly, will continue to make California, and greater Los Angeles specifically, a top priority.
“It’s very competitive,” he said. “We get a lot of people across the country that are trying to come in here and take players out. And obviously you’ve got some big-time schools just down here trying to keep their players in state. It’s a constant battle, but we’re definitely lucky we pulled a few out of here.”
— Freshman defensive back Julius Irvin, from Anaheim, Calif., has not been with the team this week for an undisclosed reason, but Lake said Irvin will join the team before the Rose Bowl. “He’ll be here,” Lake said.
— Irvin and fellow freshmen defensive backs Dominique Hampton and Kyler Gordon are not expected to play in the Rose Bowl. All three have already played in four games this season, the maximum number allowed by the NCAA for a player to preserve his redshirt status. Lake said they would be available to play in an emergency.
— Washington and Ohio State players and coaches all got to go to Disneyland’s California Adventure on Wednesday to kick off bowl week. UW senior cornerback Jordan Miller, from Oceanside, Calif., was asked Saturday about his favorite moment at the Happiest Place on Earth. “I’ve been to Disneyland a million times,” he said. “I’m not going to lie, my favorite moment was getting on the shuttle back to the hotel.”