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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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June 19, 2008 3:38 PM

Recruiting roundtable

Posted by Bob Condotta

When I solicited questions a few weeks ago, a lot of you had various queries about recruiting.

I'm admittedly not a big expert in that area, focusing most of my attention on the current Husky football and basketball teams, so I tend to defer to those who are.

With that in mind, I decided to consult two recruiting gurus I've gotten to know through the years and ask them five questions that seemed to come up often from readers.

The two experts nice enough to participate are Chris Fetters, the Northwest recruiting analyst for Scout.com and also a frequent contributor to Dawgman.com, and Greg Biggins, a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com and StudentSports.com who specializes on the West Coast.

QUESTION ONE

Can you give us an overview of the quality of the talent in the state of Washington this year and how it compares to last year, which was regarded as one of the better in recent memory?

BIGGINS: It appears to be a down year compared to last year. Last year was one of the strongest years for in-state talent in recent memory with not just great depth, but some real star power at the top of the board. This year doesn't have that and the top tow or three players in the state may all be
underclassmen.

FETTERS: Honestly, I don't think you can even compare the two classes. 2008 saw 24 prospects from the state of Washington sign letters of intent with schools in BCS conferences. In 2009? I'm sensing that number might be half.

QUESTION TWO

Who would you rate as the top 5 prospects in the state this year, and if you like'd, can you say which of those do you think are must-gets for the Huskies?

FETTERS: Right now, Deandre Coleman (DT, Garfield), Allen Mooney (MLB, O'Dea), Nolan Washington (CB, Kennedy), Grant Enger (OT, O'Dea) and Chris Mastin (DE, Lewis and Clark) are my top-5 in-state. Gino Simone (WR, Skyline), Kyrell Hudson (WR-S Vancouver Evergreen), Jamal Atofau (S, Bellevue) and Kirby Moore (WR, Prosser) are players right on the cusp and have a great chance to be in the top-5 at the end of the year. (Editor's note --- A complete list of UW prospects including the players above can be found here).

As far as must-gets for the Huskies, I've always been of the belief that the top-5 in-state players should always be a priority for UW. Last year, that would have been Kavario Middleton (Lakes), Everette Thompson (Kennedy), Alameda Ta'amu (Rainier Beach), Jermaine Kearse (Lakes) and Senio Kelemete (Burien Evergreen). The Huskies targeted those five and landed them.

BIGGINS: I would have Deandre Coleman as the top player in the senior class, but after
that, there are a number of players all fairly close to each other. My next four, in no order, are Nolan Washington, Gino Simone, Grant Enger and Desmond Trufant (DB, Wilson).

QUESTION THREE

Speaking of the Huskies, any reason why they are the only Pac-10 school yet to get a commit? Could the uncertainty over the future of Tyrone Willingham have anything to do with it?

BIGGINS: It is a little surprising. They have offered a handful of in-state players, some of which aren't national level recruits, who I would expect to jump on the local offer. I have never heard any player mention being leery of Coach Willingham and his job security but the lack of even one commitment makes you wonder a bit.

FETTERS: Clearly, recruiting is happening earlier and earlier every year. But the Huskies' 2008 recruiting class didn't get a commit from outside the Northwest until the end of June 2007, and that was David Freeman from Inglewood, a program run by former Husky Charles Mincy. And then they didn't get their second out-of-Northwest commitment until basically August in QB Dominique Blackman --- and relatively speaking he was one of the later QB commitments. The top QB's typically watch where the other QB's commit --- very much like stacked up dominoes --- so each make their decision in turn.

In short --- sure it's surprising UW is the last to have a commitment in the Pac-10, but I certainly wouldn't jump to any grand conclusions about it. With around 17-20 scholarships to give at most, the Huskies' staff has to be very prudent about who they target. Now if they don't have any commitments by the end of August? Get back to me because something is definitely amiss.

QUESTION FOUR

Do you think Rick Neuheisel's presence at UCLA will give the Bruins a greater presence in the Northwest given his history at UW?

FETTERS: Absolutely, but maybe not for the reasons that are readily apparent. Sure, Neuheisel still has plenty of friends in the Seattle area. But his most important one may not be in the high school coaching ranks. Taylor Barton, who played under Neuheisel at Colorado and Washington, is now running camps with his father Greg in the Seattle area and is quickly becoming a major influence when it comes to how high school football prospects are nurtured and developed during the off-season. Barton is a Neuheisel disciple in every way, shape and form, and I would fully expect him to give his mentor a heads up on top prospects coming from the state, just like he would his other coaching contacts in the Pac-10.

The key is, Neuheisel is such a dogged recruiter and would trust Barton's recruiting eye implicitly. There's a reason UCLA has already offered Skyline freshman WR Kasen Williams, as well as sophomore QB Jake Heaps --- both connected to Barton through his football camps. Those players, as well as Skyline WR Gino Simone and Mitch Mathews --- a receiver prospect from the Portland area --- are all traveling to Westwood at the end of the month to take part in a UCLA one-day camp. Expect the number of area prospects heading south to camp with the Bruins to grow as long as Neuheisel is coaching there, especially since the 2010 and 2011 area classes appear to be strong.

BIGGINS: That will be interesting to see. I think the recruitment of QB Jake Heaps (a Class of 2010 recruit from Skyline) will tell this story. Rick may have a lot of friends in the Seattle area but I'm sure he has a lot of people who still harbor some bitter feelings against him as well. Heaps is an intriguing kid. He's a top five QB in the West right now, has a UCLA offer and played AAU ball with Rick's son Jerry. He also has ties with UW with his former head coach now the current Husky RB coach (Steve Gervais). It will be a very interesting recruitment to follow.

QUESTION FIVE

What kind of year is it for talent on the West Coast and are there any early rumblings about UW being involved with any significant players out-of-state?

BIGGINS: I think it's a pretty solid year out West. My feeling is every year, it's usually about the same, it just so happens some years, a certain position is stronger than others. There is good depth at QB and cornerback, and receiver, definitely a down year for DTs and offensive linemen.

Some players UW has offered and are involved with include TE Marlion Barnett, OL Michael Philipp, LB Michael Clay, RB Isi Sofelo, DL James Boyd, WR Diante Jackson, DL Jackson Powell, OL Stan Hasiak and OL Kevin Danser to name a few. (Editor's note --- Links are provided for all players above).

FETTERS: In my opinion it's an overall below average year, but the top-two out west --- QB Matt Barkley (Mater Dei, CA) and LB Manti Te'o (Punahou, HI) --- are as close to slam-dunk, sure-fire future collegiate All-Americans as it gets. They are for real. I'd say it's a good year out west for QB's, offensivelLine and linebackers. Other than that? Not super solid. As far as UW being involved with out-of-state players, it's still very early. They've offered a few players from Utah, like Xavier S'a-Filo, John Martinez, L.T. Filiaga and Latu Heimuli, and all of those players are really, really good. (Editor's note --- Links to the Utah players can be found here).

Other out-of-state players that Scout has highly rated include OL Michael Philipp (Arroyo Valley, CA), LB Jordan Barrett (Notre Dame, CA - same HS as current UW kicker Erik Folk), OL Stan Hasiak (Kapolei, HI), OL Charles Siddoway (Marist, OR) and TE Marlion Barnett (Santiago, CA). The Huskies have offered three kids from Bellarmine Prep in San Jose --- LB Michael Clay, OL Kevin Danser and QB Austyn Carta-Samuels. And a legacy, Alex Logan from Mullen HS in Denver - Alvin Logan's brother - is another player Washington has targeted.

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June 19, 2008 2:02 PM

Great story on signal-stealing

Posted by Bob Condotta

I stumbled across this story today from the Detroit Free-Press on how a couple of Michigan's ball boys figured out that Northwestern was stealing the signs of the Wolverines in 1997 and just had to pass it along.

It's an interesting look at the inner-workings of college football, and the kind you won't get from people who are still in the game. I especially liked the anecdote about the third-and-25 call, which I presume was roundly booed by Michigan fans but which obviously had a great purpose.

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June 19, 2008 12:13 PM

Huskies report season ticket sales ahead of last year

Posted by Bob Condotta

UW's athletic web site has this story reporting that season ticket sales for football are 800 ahead of last year at this time. It also says that student ticket sales and Tyee sales are also up from a year ago and that all visiting seats for the opener at Oregon are sold out.

The Huskies had an average home attendance last season of 67,732, which ranked third in the Pac-10 behind USC (87,486) and UCLA (76,379) and came in a year when UW had one of its most attractive home schedules with Boise State, Ohio State, USC, Oregon and Washington State. This year's home schedule is similarly heavy-weighted with home games against BYU, Notre Dame and Oklahoma out of conference and UCLA and the return of Rick Neuheisel in Pac-10 play, which is surely a big reason for the uptick.

To play devil's advocate to the optimistic tone of the story, however, it's worth noting that UW's attendance a year ago ranked as the fourth-lowest for the Huskies since 1990. All four have come in the last four seasons. The Huskies averaged more than 70,000 fans per home game every year from 1990-2003.

Here are the averages since 2004:

2004 --- 64,737
2005 --- 64,362
2006 --- 57,483
2007 --- 67,732

Also worth passing along today is this report from the Longview Daily News on the UW coaches tour stop on Wednesday. Yes, Tyrone Willingham was there for what was the final coaches tour stop of the year.

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June 19, 2008 9:44 AM

DuRocher gets save for Everett

Posted by Bob Condotta

Former Husky QB Johnny DuRocher is now pitching with Everett of the Northwest League --- the team is an affiliate of the Mariners.

And his season is off to a solid start as he got the save last night by pitching two scoreless inninings in a win over Spokane.

Jake Locker, meanwhile, went 1-4 with two strikes, an error and a stolen base as the Bellngham Bells lost to Moses Lake 3-2.

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