Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Rating the 2007 Recruiting Class

Ty Willinghams third class at UW is his best, and most numerous so far. The Huskies landed inside the Scout top 30 and finished 4th on paper behind USC, Oregon, and California. Rivals has the Huskies in the mid 30's, while ESPN had them at 59 which was pretty ridiculous. Point is once you get beyond the top 25 teams it all gets a little subjective. Bob Condotta of the Times found an article by Dennis Dodd on CBS Sportsline that felt Washington did a very good job this year, and lists them as having one of the top five classes among traditional programs that are currently down, and rebuilding.

The key to any recruiting class is proper evaluation, balance, and development. You want to pick guys that are going to be here 4-5 years from now. Willingham and his staff have shown they are adept at doing this. His first two classes were small, but I can't think of any obvious busts other than the gambles that did not qualify. Rick had a top ten recruiting class that was littered by busts as time went on. Gilbertson had a class that was rated much higher than this one, and almost immediately was littered by busts, and attrition. Point is that a recruiting class can't be evaluated, or graded till 4-5 years down the road.

This class is strongest on paper at the offensive skill positions which is good because the Huskies only have been scoring around 20 points a game the last few years. The class is balanced, and Ty didn't take many risks, however UW is not recruiting offensive linemen like they used to, and need to. Perhaps a strong in state class coming up in 2008 will change that. This class get's a B because they lost out on some key recruits for the offensive line, and still have questions in the defensive backfield. The class lack's the obvious superstar, but the RB's, and WR's are very solid and something is likely to emerge there.

Here is a trivia question, what was Washington's last A rated class? Well you might say it was the Williams, Alexis, and ET class brought in by Neu, it was an A on paper. I don't think we have really had an A class since Don James left that performed. Don pulled a some A's in the late 80's, and early 90's.

Lambo had some good classes, but he was hampered by sanctions. Still he was in the top twenty most years on the field, and in recruiting. Lambo had the talent to compete for a National Championship most of the time he was here. His last class that featured Tui was a B Plus on paper, but performed like an A. They were the glue for the last Rose Bowl Team. Lambo's B Plus recruiting rating despite the sanctions limiting him, allowed him to leave as the second winningest coach in UW history.

Gilbertson's only class was a C plus on paper, but so many kids never got in, or contributed it has fallen to a "D". Ty's first class was a "D" just from a numbers, and balance perspective. They didn't really miss on anyone yet. I would say his second class was a C Plus. Both classes were small. I don't expect A's, or A Plusses every year, but I think B Plus overall is a level we should never fall below.

"A Plus" Top 5 Nationally
"A Top 10"
"A Minus Top 15"
"B Plus Top 20"
"B Top 30"
"B Minus Top 35"
"C Top 40"
"D Top 50"
"F 60 or Above"

With all that explained, I have to give the Huskies a solid B in overall recruiting this year. I think this class has a lot of potential over the long term.

Coming off a 5-7 season that was preceded by two of the worst seasons in Husky history isn't easy to overcome. I think the staff did a good job in a year where the quality, and balance of in state, and Western recruits were down in numbers. They made some great inroads in California, and surprised us by pulling some guys out of Colorado, Utah, and Hawaii. Ty, and staff need to close hard on the in state class of 2008. That class will have as many as 15-20 athlete's capable of playing in the Pac Ten. Good news is that it is heavy with lineman.

The current class had the opportunity to be up there with Oregon, and Cal in ranking, but we lost some top prospects in January to Stanford (Masafilo, Amajoyi, Killsgaard), Cal (Smith), ASU (Palelei) and Oregon (Weems, Davis).

Oregon isn't coming off a great season, and they have some internal problems on the team. Those are the negatives, on the positive side the Duck's have the best facilities in the West, and have been winning for ten years. WR Drew Davis wanted to be an engineer, but he ended passing on UW, and Cal which have fine engineering schools for the athletic facilites at Oregon which by the way does not have an engineering school. The difference? Washington, and especially Cal, have antiquated facilites that in the end is what swung him to Oregon.

UW really needs to get some sizzle going with their facilities, and the new football center is going to be a great start to it. The 4.5 million dollar complex will give recruiting an instant boost, while making it a lot easier on the coaches to teach, and administrate. The stadium is going to get done eventually, and hopefully they are able to start on it by the end of the decade. 100 million from the state legislature to help with the infrastructure from the invasion of 520 in the South parking lot should kick off some meaningful changes.

The program is definitely on the upswing, and there is the realistic expectation of winning nine games next season, and going to an upper echeleon bowl. Ty, in year three has to show that he is developing the talent to compete at a high level. He realistically like any coach has four years to turn a program around or they start looking for a replacement. If Ty gets an extension, or a roll over after year three he is going to be here awhile, if not the drum beats for Jim Mora Jr, or whoever the hot guy is at that time will start. Realistically I think Ty stays here till retirement, and Mora possibly goes on to coach the Seahawks after Holmgren leaves.

What you are looking for in a class this large is for 8-10 guys who can come in and immediately contribute. We will have to wait till Fall to find out who they are, but we will highlight the kids we think can do it early.

Overall Offensive Class "B Plus"

I give this part of the class a B Plus despite the question marks on the offensive line. We really did score well at the skill/speed positions. This team lacked playmakers last year, and now they have potential playmakers that have a chance to play right away.

Players who would have made this class an A?: Fred Koloto, Mike Tomczyk, Pou Palelei, Darrion Weems, and Drew Davis.

Quarterback "A Minus"

The Huskies nabbed the 5th best QB prospect in California when Ronnie Fouch signed on. They also got an excellent 3 star walk on candidate in Clemmons. The bonus is both will get a head start by being here in the Spring. We actually did better than you would expect the year after a Jake Locker signs. I had it rated a B Plus, but the addition of Clemmons fills a big hole in my opinion.

The one's who got away: Kellen Kiilsgaard opted for Stanford.

Recruits who can help now? : Fouch

Running Back "A Plus"

The Huskies signed California's Curtis Shaw, Brandon Johnson, and Willie Griffin. Nate Williams, and Brandon Yakaboski are the local candidates. All of these kids will get a look at TB, but Williams should be headed to Safety, and Yakaboski to FB, or LB. This is the best RB class up here in memory, and it was rated #2 in the nation by Scout. I gave it an A plus even though their isn't a Reggie Bush, or Nip Kauffman here. All three of these guys are talented, and are a huge upgrade.

The one's that got away: Really nobody got away as the Huskies had a field day in California, and augmented it in state.

Recruits who can help now? : Shaw, Griffin, Johnson, and Williams.

Wide Receiver and Tight End "A Minus"

Boyles, Aguilar, and Logan all have the tools to play next year. Logan could end up at safety because of need. Boyles has immediate big play ability with his rangy arms, while Aguilar was put up great numbers last year in Colorado. Chris Izbicki was rated the #2 TE in the country by Scout in the pre season. Chris is supposed to be the complete package at TE. Boyles is a guy I predict makes the rotation once learns the offense.

The ones who got away: Drew Davis would have been the cream on the top of this class, but he chose Oregon over UW, and Cal. Auburn TE David Paulson opted for Oregon, but we got our targeted TE.

Recruits who can help now? : Boyles, Izbicki, and Aguilar

Offensive Line "C"

The Huskies didn't bring the bring in the big names again this year as Oregon, California, UCLA, and USC brought in much stronger line classes on paper. Imeka Iweka is a local kid with plenty of upside who unfortunately needs surgery for a partial tear of the Achilles tendon. He also may have some work to do to qualify. Iweka was projected as an OL, but could end up inside on the DL. Scott Shugert from Oregon was an early sleeper who gained a lot of attention his senior year after committing to UW, he was a solid pick. Skyler Fancher was another overlooked guy in California. Mark Armelin rounds out the class and was a plan B type kid with good movement who the Huskies grabbed as higher rated players went elsewhere.

Will Armelin, Shugert, and Fancher develop? You have to love Fanchers film, he looks like a great find that could develop into an All Pac Ten guy. Pete Carroll obviously thought so too offering the big guy late in the process after the Trojan's fell short on some big national names.

Bottomline is UW could have used six linemen in this class regardless of what is available next year in state. They ended up with three or four depending on which side Eweka lines up on the ball.

The ones who got away: Pou Palelei going to ASU hurt, but he may not qualify. Carson York was the highest rated guy in the region, and he verbaled to Oregon early. Fred Koloto suprisingly went to San Jose over UW. Mike Tomczyk from the Hun School chose Louisville. Darrion Weems ended up at Oregon after Florida dropped him. We finished second on way too many players, and we certainly didn't get enough linemen into visit.

Recruits who can help now? : None

Overall Defense "B"

We needed more help in the defensive backfield than we ended up getting at first glance. UW has some major holes to fill, and once again may be short handed when the inevitable dings start to happen back there. Davenport will really help at CB, but who will be the two newcomers that will get immediate playing time at Safety? The losses of Palmer. and Hemphill make this a glaring need.

The LB's are relative unknowns, but bear the Tormey stamp of approval. UW has plenty of young depth here, and the new players will have plenty of time to develop. Sylvester will be here in the Spring so we will get an early look at what this kid can do, and where he will fit in.

The defensive line once again was solid, and balanced. Iweka may start out over here even though I think his ultimate destination is OT. Duncan is a kid that could also play on offense if they think he is a better fit over there. The Huskies have been bringing in strong DL's every year and the depth is good at these positions.

Players who would have made this class an A: DT Massifilo, LB/DE DJ Holt, DE Owusu, DE Smith, DE Tuihalamaka, CB Ross, CB Wide, CB Campbell, and S Killsgaard.

Defensive Line "B plus"

The Huskies brought in three guys that will play a lot in the future. Aldrich, Duncan, and Wood make up a very solid class for Randy Hart to groom.

The ones who got away: Masifilo opted for Stanford, Owusu to California, or UNC, Tuihalamaka went to Arizona, and Smith went to California.

Recruits who can help now? : Wood

Linebacker "B minus"

UW passed on some more highly rated LB's. Tough class to judge because none of the three are highly rated, but they are they guys that Tormey wants, and he usually chooses good ones. Foster was also a QB in HS, and Sylvester is prep school guy who can come in early. Sylvester could be headed to FB once they have a chance to evaluate him this Spring. Dennison is the late offer Plan B kid who looks great on film. This class could be an A for all we know, but the kids we took can be regarded as sleepers.

The one's who got away: Amajoyi chose Stanford, and DJ Holt chose California.

Recruits who can help now? : Foster

Cornerback B

Davenport is a guy who can compete to start this Spring. McDowell is rated four stars by Scout, and Persley is the plan B they brought in at the end to make up for Campbell who was probably a Safety anyway.

The ones who got away: Ross headed to Nebraska, Campbell to Miami, Eddie Wide was the guy they really wanted, and he chose Utah. Omar Bolden didn't end up qualifying, at least for UW.

Recruits who can help now? : Davenport, and McDowell

Safety B

With Ashley Plamer not making it in, and Hemphill graduating early the Huskies needed a JC Safety, and they didn't find one. They did find 4-5 guys that could compete for the job from the HS ranks. Williams, Richardson, Logan, Aiyewa, Foster, and Yakaboski could end up competing for immediate playing time. The Huskies return only two experienced Safeties in Wells, and Forrester. We got some athletes here that will help down the road, the question is how will they do in the immediate future? Aiyewa is a guy that came on late in the process who was overlooked by most schools. He has the potential to play early in his career and seems to be a real find. His film looked fantastic. Williams should be able to make an early impact. Logan, and Richardson are other guy's to watch.

The ones that got away: Kellen Kiilsgaard to Stanford. Eric Block to WSU. Campbell to Miami. Hilton Dawson to another year at a JC. Mixon to WSU who accepts PE credits, and are willing to wait on him till Fall.

Recruits who can help now? : Aiyewa, Williams, Richardson, and Logan

Specialties A Minus

We picked up a kicker, and punter to replace Braunstein, and Douglas. Douglas had a great leg, but he gave up a lot of points on blocks, and outkicking cover. Braunstein of course was Braunstein. We also picked up a lot of speed which will help Coach Simmons look better. He took a lot of flack last year, but he also didn't have a lot of fresh, fast athletes to work with, it does make a difference. Lots of new guys that can return the ball and make tackles. Falk, and Ballman will start from the get go, and Ballman will be here in the Spring.

The return game has sucked for a long time. Marlon Wood who graduated was the only glimmer back there. Shaw, Mc Dowell, Johnson, Griffin, Aguilar, Boyles etc... give Coach Simmons some talent to work with.

Recruits who can help now? : Ballman, and Falk

Some Late Breaking Surprises?

What would Letter of Intent Day be without some surprise commits, and of course decommits? The only thing floating around early this morning is that California S/QB Shane Horton may receive the last available scholarship Washington has to offer this year which would be an upgrade of the greyshirt offer he currently has. Willingham keeps things really close to the vest, so you never really know what is going on till they announce something. When they do we will update here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Summary of the 07 recruiting class.
Let's hope that JR Hasty can live up to his hype and show up for class, and that our QB Locker stays healthy.