E.J. Savannah was on a visit to Arizona State when he received a phone call from his mother informing him that Tyrone Willingham soon would be named football coach at Washington...

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E.J. Savannah was on a visit to Arizona State when he received a phone call from his mother informing him that Tyrone Willingham soon would be named football coach at Washington.

The Bellevue High School senior had been withholding judgment on the Huskies until after a coach was hired. And though Savannah still wasn’t ready to make a final decision on the UW yesterday, he said Willingham’s hiring suddenly makes the Huskies more appealing.

“It has definitely changed my opinion,” said Savannah, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker, generally regarded as one of the state’s top recruits. “I actually was interested in the UW and I was really waiting to see what they were doing, and I thought Tyrone Willingham was a perfect move for them.”

Savannah and Bellevue teammate J.R. Hasty (5-10, 195), one of the state’s top running backs, have said on several occasions that they want to go somewhere together. Both players visited Arizona State over the weekend and, according to Savannah, have another trip planned to Oregon early next month.

O’Dea coach Monte Kohler said the hiring of Willingham makes Washington a consideration for his star linebacker, Anthony Felder.

Felder, a 6-3, 225-pound senior, already has visited Louisiana State and Oregon State.

“I think he was waiting to see what was going to happen out there (UW),” Kohler said.

Kohler said Ohio State, Notre Dame, California and now Washington are the schools from which Felder will decide where to take remaining visits.

Regardless of where Felder ends up, Kohler said Willingham and Washington look like “a good fit.”

“I think he does it the right way,” Kohler said of Willingham. “That was a strange deal at Notre Dame. Under the circumstances, I think Washington got the right guy.”

Jonathan Stewart of Timberline High School.
The state’s most coveted recruit, Timberline running back Jonathan Stewart, said last night it was too soon to tell the impact Willingham’s hiring would have on his decision.

“I don’t know yet,” said Stewart, who recently returned from a visit to Tennessee. “It just happened, so I haven’t really given it too much thought. I might look at them (the Huskies). I’ve got to give it more thought.”

The Huskies’ only known in-state high-school recruit is Ryan Perkins, a kicker from North Thurston High School in Lacey.

Washington is believed to have commitments from two California junior-college players, James Paulk, an offensive tackle from College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, and cornerback Keno Walter-White from San Diego Mesa College.

Seattle Times staff reporter Bud Withers contributed to this report.

The state’s top recruits
The top college-football prospects in the state of Washington — according to Scout.com — and who they’ve committed to:
# Player Pos. High school College
1. Jonathan Stewart RB Timberline Undecided
2. Anthony Felder LB O’Dea Undecided
3. Leon Jackson RB Pasco Nebraska
4. E.J. Savannah LB Bellevue Undecided
5. Mat Webb OL Heritage (Van.) Oregon
6. J.R. Hasty RB Bellevue Undecided
7. Adam Leonard LB Rainier Beach Undecided
8. Kenny Alfred OL Gig Harbor Wash. St.
9. Taylor Rank RB Evergreen (Van.) Undecided
10. Tavita Pritchard QB Clover Park Stanford