February 3, 2011

Sarkisian breaks down new Huskies

Steve Sarkisian's third recruiting class at the University of Washington wound up as the highest rated class by the Huskies in seven years.

"I love this recruiting class," said Sarkisian, who introduced 23 new Huskies Wednesday, including two junior-college transfers.

Washington's class wound up being ranked No. 23 nationally by Rivals.com, the highest rating since a No. 19 spot in 2004.

Scout.com rated the class No. 19 in the country.

Although Washington lost two commitments to Colorado in the final days and had a third switch to California, Sarkisian pointed out that such late developments should hardly overshadow the magnitude of the class that the Huskies were celebrating.

He pointed to Washington's ability to keep the state's best prospects home, including Top 100 recruits Kasen Williams of Skyline and Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Gig Harbor.

In reality, only 22 players signed with Washington Wednesday. Thomas Tutogi, a junior-college transfer from Chula Vista, Calif., had already signed in December and is enrolled in school but was still part of the university's Signing Day release.

One of the unexpected developments on Signing Day was the pickup of Antavius Sims, a junior-college quarterback who is projected to be a cornerback at Washington.

Of the 21 high school signees, nine are from Washington, 11 hail from California and one is from Nevada.

Here is a look at the 23 new Huskies:

Washington Huskies Class of 2011

Derrick Brown, quarterback, Winchester (Calif.) Vista Murrieta High (6-3, 239)

Derrick Brown is a big, physical quarterback who filled a big need for Washington, which had only two quarterbacks on scholarship. When Jonathan Gray de-committed from Washington for San Jose State, the Huskies moved in on Brown, who switched to Washington after originally committing to Utah.

Notable: Ranked the No. 21 quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com, Brown passed for 1,601 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushed for 1,037 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior. He led his team to a 13-2 record.

Sarkisian on Brown: "A really unique kid. The process with him was one that I think we all would have wished would have happened a little sooner, but at the end of the day we got a guy who possessed all the physical qualities of what we were looking for. He's a bigger kid, all of 6-3, probably some change, 235 to 240 pounds. Tremendous arm strength. Good athlete, a basketball player. Possesses all the intangibles from the quarterback position that we were looking for. And something that might be a bonus to him is that he's a tremendous punter as well. He bring a lot of the qualities that we wanted to this. I think he brings a real physical presence to what we were looking for at the quarterback position."

Dexter Charles, offensive line, Stanwood (Wash.) High (6-5, 280)

Dexter Charles committed to the Huskies in April after his friend, Taniela Tupou did the same. Charles is one of only two offensive linemen in this class but that isn't a big concern considering linemen were the focus in 2010 and will be again next year as the state's 2012 class is loaded in that area.

Notable: Charles is rated the No. 41 offensive tackle in the country by ESPN.com, No. 77 by Rivals.com and No. 102 by Scout.com. Was named to the Class 4A AP all-state team as a senior.

Sarkisian on Charles: "A big, physical kid who we had earmarked very early on. He's been a great Husky all the way. He's done a nice job of kind of forming the camaraderie amongst the in-state players. I think Dexter has a very bright future ahead of him. He's athletic for his size. I think he's still growing into his body, but he's got the right mind frame and the right work ethic. Another guy I know coach Cozzetto can't wait to get his hands on."

Connor Cree, defensive end, Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline High (6-5, 225)

Connor Cree brings a strong work ethic, intensity and winning pedigree to Montlake. He was part of two state championships with Skyline and has played football with fellow Skyline product Kasen Williams since the fourth grade.

Notable: Cree missed a portion of his senior year because of injury yet still helped Skyline reach the 4A state finals. Rated the No. 56 defensive end in the country and No. 10 overall prospect in the state by Rivals.com.

Sarkisian on Cree: "A really versatile kid. A kid who really played tight end and defensive end in high school. But I think Connor possesses a lot of the defensive end characteristics that coach Holt is really looking for, and that's the long levers, the long arms. A real physical nature. A tremendous amount of effort in his game, but yet the athleticism to be able to play on the edge to contain the football, to get his hands on tight ends, to not get blocked by tight ends. And then be able to get off blockers and make his plays. Love the kid because of his length and work ethic and obviously the program that he's coming from."

Travis Feeney, linebacker-safety, Richmond (Calif.) Pinole Valley High (6-4, 201)

Travis Feeney is an intriguing prospect the Huskies didn't want to miss. He switched to the Huskies in late January after being committed to Arizona since August. Not only an impressive athlete, he's also interested in going into medical school.

Notable: Played safety, linebacker and even defensive end in high school. Was named the MVP of the Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League. Also played baseball at Pinole Valley.

Sarkisian on Feeney: "A freakish athlete. Extremely physical for the wiry body that he possesses. Another guy who I think is really going to grow into his body. But the speed, the power, the explosiveness that he possesses is something that we were fighting to get our hands on and it took us probably longer than we wanted to. But ultimately he ended up signing with us. I think his future's so bright. He's got the right makeup to be something very special down the road."

Jarett Finau, linebacker-tight end, Kirkland (Wash.), Juanita High (6-3, 235)

Skilled on both sides of the ball and athletic, Jarett Finau gives the Huskies the luxury of seeing where he can help most. Washington certainly isn't turning away strong tight end candidates, however, Finau appears more suited for defense.

Notable: Honored in his league on both sides of the ball, Finau helped Juanita to a 9-2 record and 7-1 mark in the KingCo. He attended Marysville-Pilchuck prior to transferring to Juanita. Rated the No. 14 prospect overall in the state of Washington by Rivals.com.

Sarkisian on Finau: "A 6-3 kid, 235. D-end, tight end, outside linebacker. He played a lot of standup outside backer for them. He has the ability to rush the passer, play in coverage. A very versatile guy. We had him in camp. He showed us a lot. A tremendous work ethic."

Marvin Hall, wide receiver, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey High (5-10, 168)

Marvin Hall is the fastest of the Huskies' four wide receiver signees and comes from a storied high school program in Los Angeles.

Notable: Despite missing four games his senior season with an ankle injury, Hall still had 31 catches for 673 yards and nine touchdowns. Dorsey went 10-2 his senior year.

Sarkisian on Hall: "A real speedster. A guy who will probably run 10.4 in the 100 meters this year by the time the state meet rolls around. Can really fly. He comes from a storied program of producing wide receivers so we're excited to have him."

Jamaal Jones, wide receiver, Graham (Wash.), Graham-Kapowsin High (6-2, 180)

Jamaal Jones is the sort of big-play receiver who makes defenders miss and also returns punts. He committed to the Huskies in the spring and Washington stayed committed to him after he suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery.

Notable: Missed his senior football and basketball seasons while recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum. Caught 13 touchdown passes as a junior. He plans to make up for lost time in track and field this spring.

Sarkisian on Jones: "An in-state kid who unfortunately wasn't able to play his senior year of high school because of a shoulder injury. It was unfortunate because I think he would've had a huge senior year. A long kid, basketball-player type, 6-2 type. Really good range. Excellent punt returner. A guy we are expecting big things out of."

Scott Lawyer, linebacker, San Jose (Calif.) Oak Grove High (6-2, 197)

The Huskies are excited about the prospects of Scott Lawyer at outside linebacker. He was an early Husky commit and defensive force in Northern California.

Notable: Had 69 tackles and seven sacks as a senior and also played receiver. As a junior, he had 90 tackles and eight sacks.

Sarkisian on Lawyer: "A real speed demon. If there's one word that would describe him it's speed. He's a tremendous edge rusher. He really brings it off the edge. I think as we watch him and see how he grows into his body; his dad's a big man; so we're excited about Scotty because of the edge presence he can bring with the speed factor."

Matthew Lyons, linebacker, Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey High (6-2, 188)

Matthew Lyons gives the Huskies a big hitter from the outside linebacker position. A big-play, physical player despite his lean frame. He committed to Washington in April.

Notable: Finished with 117 tackles and four interceptions as a senior for the Dons, who went 10-2 his senior year and advanced to the L.A. City Section quarterfinals. He had 135 tackles and recovered six fumbles as a junior. The No. 50 outside linebacker in the country according to Rivals.com.

Sarkisian on Lyons: "They nickname him the 'Hitman.' I've never seen so many helmets get knocked off on one guy's highlight film. He's a physical kid out of Dorsey High School. A long line of great linebackers coming out of Dorsey. We love the physical presence that Matthew brings. Another tremendous student who just possesses a lot of the characteristics that we're looking for from a defensive front type guy."

Josh Perkins, wide receiver, Cerritos (Calif.) Gahr High (6-4, 198)

Josh Perkins is a different mold of receiver for Washington with height and leaping ability. He committed to Washington in June after also having offers from San Diego State, Minnesota, Idaho and San Jose State.

Notable: Caught 70 passes for 1,072 yards and 11 touchdowns his senior year. In one game, had 12 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Ranked the No. 64 wide receiver prospect in the country by ESPN.com.

Sarkisian on Perkins: "Another receiver we're excited about but different. This kid is all of 6-4, 200 pounds. Tremendous leaping ability. Excellent hands. Long arms. He brings a little different nature than what we've had here but something we'd like to move towards of really bringing it. If you're not going to be a speed demon, let's get long, let's get physical and I think Josh brings that."

Marcus Peters, cornerback, Oakland (Calif.) McClymonds High (6-0, 179)

Marcus Peters had more than 10 offers from other schools but ultimately decided on Washington in late January. Although his future is at cornerback, he did it all at McClymonds, including quarterback and kicker, and led the team to 12-0 record. He's also a dangerous kick returner.

Notable: The MVP of the Oakland Athletic League, Peters had seven interceptions on defense as a senior and also scored six touchdowns on either punt or kick returns. Rated as the No. 30 cornerback in the country by Rivals.com.

Sarkisian on Peters: "It was a dogfight to get him here. At the end of it all, everyone in the country was calling on him for the right reasons. He's coming from McClymonds High School in Oakland, California, where they had an undefeated season and the biggest reason why was Marcus Peters. He's a very well-versed football player. He's coming here to play corner. I think he returned six punts for touchdowns last year his senior year. He played quarterback. He played running back. He played receiver. He's all of 6 feet tall, roughly 180, 185 pounds but plays the game with a real physical nature at the corner spot, which is what we're looking for. We want to play more bump-and-run. We want to play more man-to-man coverage and Marcus possesses that."

Dezden Petty, running back, Carson (Calif.) Gardena High (6-0, 213)

Dezden Petty grew up wearing replica Washington Huskies uniforms on Halloween night because his grandfather's passion for the Huskies rubbed off on him. The Huskies like him because he's a versatile back who is physical but can also run and catch the ball well.

Notable: The No. 11 fullback in the country, according to Scout.com. Is reportedly the first Gardena High football player to earn a Division I scholarship since former Husky Damon Mack in 1988. Petty helped the Panthers earn a spot in the Los Angeles Section playoffs. Even played some quarterback in high school.

Sarkisian on Petty: "Dezden Petty is a fullback-slash-running back. He's got the ability to run the ball and ran the ball to I think over 1,400 yards his senior year at Gardena. He also brings a real physical nature to his game at the fullback position. He's very reminiscent to me of a young man by the name of Stanley Havili, who we recruited at (U)SC. A guy who really came out of high school as a running back but evolved himself into a fullback that gives us a lot of versatility. That's what we'll be looking for Dezden to do."

James Sample, safety, Sacramento (Calif.) Grant High (6-2, 191)

One of the gems of the Huskies' recruiting class, James Sample is a big, physical safety from a high school that keeps putting out blue-chip prospects. He was one of three Husky signees who played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, joining Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Notable: Rated the No. 135 overall prospect in the country and No. 9 safety by Rivals.com. Recorded 109 tackles his senior year and helped lead Grant to a 13-1 record.

Sarkisian on Sample: "James Sample is a big, beautiful-looking guy. He's all of 6-2, if not taller, 195 pounds. Long. Rangy. Can play man-to-man coverage in the slot and then knock a guy's helmet off the very next snap. He just possesses all of the characteristics that you want in a safety and comes from a tremendous high school in Grant High School that is year in and year out putting players out and James is that type of guy."

Bishop Sankey, running back, Spokane (Wash.), Gonzaga Prep (5-10, 194)

The Huskies wrestled away Bishop Sankey, the Northwest's top running back prospect, from rival Washington State late in the recruiting process. It gives Washington another promising running back candidate once Chris Polk is gone.

Notable: Finished his career as the Greater Spokane League's all-time leading rusher with 4,355 yards. He had a league-record 359 yards rushing against Mead. Ran for 2,518 yards as a senior. Rated the No. 5 prospect in the state by Rivals.com.

Sarkisian on Sankey: "A kid who had a fantastic career. A really delightful young man. This kid has a level head on his shoulders. He's been very upfront and honest with us throughout the entire process but he's a kid who has a lot of versatility to his game. They used him as a wildcat quarterback. He threw the ball. He ran the ball. He ran inside. He ran outside. He's got excellent straight-line speed to go along with his elusiveness. I think he's going to fit in great with the style of offense that we're putting together here."

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, tight end, Gig Harbor (Wash.) High (6-6, 250)

The No. 2-rated tight end in the country, Austin Seferian-Jenkins can't get to Washington fast enough. The elite national recruit picked Washington over Texas in August. He fills the Huskies' greatest need (tight end) and figures to be the start right away. He is enrolling at Washington this spring.

Notable: Finished his career with school-record 126 receptions, mostly from the wide receiver spot. Rated as the No. 32 overall prospect in the country by Scout.com and No. 39 overall by Rivals.com.

Sarkisian on Seferian-Jenkins: "Austin is an extreme talent. It's was not easy when you have the top teams in the country coming after you. But I think at the end of the day, I think the pride of Washington held true. For him to take pride and being from this state and wanting to come and wear the purple and gold and be part of the other players in this state, I think speaks volumes to the type of leader that he is. Not to mention, he's a freakish talent. At really just under 6-6 and 260 pounds, he's a fantastic athlete. I had a chance the other night to watch him play basketball. Amazing feet. Amazing hand-eye coordination. His ability to time jumps. To have him in camp this summer and watch him release at the line of scrimmage, they just don't make guys like this all the time and that's what makes him special. There's obviously still a lot of work to be done. He played so much wide receiver in high school that the transition into the complete tight end position will be one that will be challenging for him but I know he's embracing it. I think this is the type of guy who can have immediate impact in our program to help shape our offense the way that we want it to be shaped."

Danny Shelton, defensive tackle, Auburn (Wash.) High (6-3, 300)

Danny Shelton is another signature signee of the Huskies' recruiting class, an inside presence built like a bear with many suitors. He could make an immediate impact just like he did when he arrived at Auburn.

Notable: Rated the No. 3 prospect in the state of Washington and No. 10 defensive tackle in the country by Rivals.com. Twice named the South Puget Sound League North Division's offensive and defensive lineman of the year. Played in the Offense-Defense Bowl in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in December.

Sarkisian on Shelton: "A real beast. He's the real deal inside. As we move forward here with Alameda Ta'amu being a senior and Danny coming in as a freshman, he's a real force. He's a real factor. A guy who could have probably went to any school in the country (but) decided to stay home and be part of this program. It speaks volumes for the character that he has. He's a tremendous student and a guy who should have immediate impact in our program because of his strength, his style of play and how bright he is on the football field."

Antavius Sims, athlete, Americus (Ga.) Ventura College (6-2, 200)

A gifted athlete, Antavius Sims gives the Huskies a fourth quarterback on scholarship though his mainstay will be at cornerback. Coach Steve Sarkisian knew of Sims because of his longtime relationship with Ventura College coach Steve Mooshagian, who at one time recruited Sarkisian.

Notable: Had a record-setting career at quarterback at Ventura College even though he was originally just supposed to be a cornerback. Played quarterback for two years at Ventura, where he also played basketball. As a sophomore, completed 165 of 299 passes for 1,956 yards and 13 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,014 yards and 15 touchdowns on 223 carries.

Sarkisian on Sims: "He's really listed as an athlete because he played quarterback at Ventura College. He's out of Georgia. He's all of 6-2, all of 200 pounds. Antavius played corner for them all summer long and was by far and away the best guy they had on their team and maybe the best around in Southern California. But they needed him to play quarterback and so he said, 'OK, I'll play quarterback,' and was first team all-league quarterback for them as well. We're bringing him in as an athlete but again, he possesses the characteristics that we're looking for at the corner spot: Big, physical, strong. Be able to play more bump-and-run coverage. You never know. He'll probably be returning kicks and we'll probably have some quarterback stuff for him on the call sheet as well."

Siosifa Tufunga, offensive line, Long Beach (Calif.) Long Beach Jordan High (6-1, 297)

Although somewhat raw, the Huskies like the envisioned finished product of Siosifa Tufunga. Huskies recruiting coordinator Johnny Nansen went to Tufunga's high school.

Notable: Named the Moore League offensive lineman of the year as a senior. Rated the No. 83 offensive guard recruit in the country by Scout.com. As a junior, was a teammate of current Huskies Princeton Fuimaono and John Timu.

Sarkisian on Tufunga: "This guy hasn't played a whole lot of football. It's a credit to coach Nansen down there at his alma mater at Long Beach Jordan to find him. Extremely athletic. He's going to be an inside guy for us whether he's a guard or a center. Very, very bright young man. A tremendous student. But I think his best football is definitely ahead of him. I think as we really start to work with him, as coach Cozzetto gets him, you're going to see this guy really go. I think he has a great upside."

Taniela Tupou, defensive line, Marysville (Wash.), Archbishop Murphy (6-2, 265)

Taniela Tupou was an early target who committed to Washington last April. He was one of three defensive line signees and also one of the state's top-rated players often overlooked because of the elite company.

Notable: Rated the No. 6 overall prospect in the state and No. 32 strongside defensive end in the country by Rivals.com. Played in the All-Polynesian All-America game after his senior season.

Sarkisian on Tupou: "A kid who we've had in camp for two years now. A tremendous work ethic. Got a lot of versatility to his game. He's played inside. He's played outside. He's a guy who obviously comes with a lot of accolades. He's well deserving of such. He's dominated football games at his level but then yet in camp, he's dominated as well. I think that the addition of Tani for the defensive front to go along with some of our other young guys is obviously huge."

Thomas Tutogi, linebacker, Chula Vista (Calif.), Southwestern JC (6-1, 251)

Considered a top candidate to fill a void at middle linebacker, Thomas Tutogi already is enrolled at Washington after signing with the Huskies in December. He will be a true sophomore in 2011.

Notable: Had 120 total tackles at Southwestern Junior College last fall, third most in the Southern California Football Association. Played fullback and linebacker at Chula Vista High School. His older brother, Taimi Tutogi, plays at Arizona.

Sarkisian on Tutogi: "Thomas possesses the real inside backer type mentality. He's about a 6-foot, 240 to 245-pounder right now but he's a tremendous athlete. He's got great hand-eye coordination, very good feet, but he's going to hit you in the mouth. He's an iso(lation)-run stopper, a power run stopper that brings a lot of true real leadership qualities to them."

Corey Waller, linebacker, Long Beach (Calif.) Long Beach Poly High (6-2, 210)

Corey Waller had offers from six other schools when he picked the Huskies in November. He brings great instincts, a high football IQ and a relentless style to Washington./>
Notable: Missed a significant portion of his senior year with nagging injuries. Still helped the Jackrabbits to an 8-3 record. Had 10 sacks as a junior.

Sarkisian on Waller: "His instincts, the first thing he really knows how to do well is rush the passer. He's a tremendous pass rusher. He plays with amazing effort, very similar effort type to a Hau'oli Jamora. A guy who is just relentless the way he plays the game, but yet has the versatility to play some middle backer for them this year. He was able to move around and do some things in coverage. Getting that versatile type backer is big for us but also to have the speed off the edge."

Kasen Williams, wide receiver, Sammamish (Wash.), Skyline High (6-2, 210)

Kasen Williams is stirring up as much excitement as any other recruit in the Huskies' 2011 class. The Parade Magazine national player of the year, Williams has Husky bloodlines (dad Aaron was a receiver on two Rose Bowl teams) and the sort of presence and ability that are expected to lead to an immediate impact on the field.

Notable: A member of virtually every significant high school All-American team, Williams helped lead Skyline to the state title game four times, winning three championships. He teamed up with BYU quarterback Jake Heaps during his first three seasons at Skyline. Williams finished his Skyline career with 235 receptions for 4,121 yards and 56 touchdowns. Also a state triple jump champion and the school's top basketball player.

Sarkisian on Williams: "To have the Parade Magazine national player of the year in this class in Kasen Williams is fantastic. I think it speaks volumes to what we've said since day one of putting a fence around the state of Washington. To have this player come to the University of Washington and be part of our program is obviously very exciting. That being said, he's a tremendous athlete. He can run. He can jump. He's physical. All of 6-3, 210 pounds if not 215 pounds. Extremely competitive. A very good defensive player. An excellent basketball player. A tremendous track athlete. He comes from a great family. I think he's the type of guy who can have immediate impact in the things we're trying to get accomplished."

Evan Zeger, safety, Henderson (Nev.) Bishop Gorman High (6-2, 200)

The Huskies have had their eye on Evan Zeger since his junior year when he played at nearby Skyline. He's big and physical. His dad, John Zeger, was a Huskies safety in 1980.

Notable: Rated the No. 4 prospect out of Nevada by Rivals.com. Helped the Gaels to a 13-2 record his senior year. Played his sophomore and senior years at Bishop Gorman and his junior year at Skyline, where he was named an all-state defensive back.

Sarkisian on Zeger: "When we first started recruiting Evan, he was at Skyline High School right here in the state. Another big, physical safety at 6-2, 200 pounds with room to grow. He can really run. He's a 4.4 type guy. A true kind of middle-third safety that can play down in the box and defend the run. With the bloodlines here with his father playing at the University of Washington, I think he'll be a great addition to us as well."

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