Thursday, February 21, 2008

Team Recruiting Countdown: No. 17 Washington Huskies

No. 17 Washington Huskies (Pac-10 No. 4)

2008 haul: 26 signees, 1 Athlon Consensus 100

Scouting Report:

After three losing seasons under Ty Willingham, Washington Husky fans have something to smile about. The emergence of the Tim Tebow of the west – Jake Locker – has given hope to U of W fans. Willingham needed to give him some help, though. The 2008 recruiting class did just that.

To protect his young star at quarterback, the Huskies landed six offensive lineman, including the massive Alameda Ta’amu (Seattle, Wash.) who checks in at 6-2 and at least 335 pounds. Allen Carroll (Oakland, Calif.) and Senio Kelemete (Seattle, Wash.) round out one of the top offensive line classes in the Pac-10.

This class is also chalk full of pass-catching options for Locker. Kavario Middleton (Lakewood, Wash.) could end being the top tight end prospect in the nation, if he isn’t moved to defense. Chris Polk (Redlands, Calif) is a dynamic player on the outside and was once a USC commit (so he must be good). Jermaine Kearse (Lakewood, Wash.) and Vince Taylor (Issaquah, Wash.) add much needed depth to the receiving corp. Cody Bruns (Prosser, Wash.) might be the most interesting, however. He lacks the physical tools of his fellow pass catching recruits but was arguably the most productive wide receiver in the history of high school football in this country. Just for safe measure, the Huskies landed three running backs as well.

The offense should be very potent for the coming years. The defense, however, is a different story. Washington ranked 107th in the total defense last season and needs upgrades at nearly every position, defensive end in particular. Willingham did a solid job at the end position with Everrette Thompson (Burien, Wash.) and potentially Middleton – who is also a very good defensive prospect. Three linebackers and three defensive backs will attempt to sure up a porous back seven.

Overall, Willingham and staff did a marvelous job of upgrading the talent on offense. The defense is more of a question mark, though. Fans will have to wait and see if the Husky defense improves in 2008.

As expected, the state of California was a fertile proving ground for the Huskies. They landed nine prospects from the Golden State including the very talented Carroll and Polk.

In addition, if Washington expects to compete in the very difficult Pac-10, they needed to close down the borders of their own state and keep talent at home. They did so in 2008 by landing 12 of the top 15 prospects in the state of Washington.

Top Prospect: Kavario Middleton – TE/DE – Lakewood, Wash. (6-6, 250) AC100 No. 44

Middleton has the physical ability to be the best tight end in the nation for 2008. He also has the ability to be a dynamic defensive end as well. He should play on offense, however. He has wonderful receiving skills and has no fear whatsoever about going over the middle to make the tough catch. Middleton will also be a go-to red zone target as he uses his massive 6-6 frame to out-leap smaller defenders for the ball. He has solid hands and nice ball skills.

Middleton is not just an end zone, possession-type receiver at the tight end position. He has some athleticism too. Al la Ben Troupe at Florida, Middleton once leaped over an opposing defensive back who was making a poor effort at a tackle in the open field. This athleticism is what defensive coordinators love about his D-line potential.

His pass-catching ability, big-play skills and red zone dominance should place him in the offensive huddle, though. As a blocker, he has the potential to be very productive. A little work here and there should clean his technique up a bit and allow him to be a solid blocker.

Best of the Rest:

Everette Thompson – DE – Burien, Wash. (6-5, 240)
Chris Polk – ATH – Redlands, Calif. (6-0, 200)
Allen Carroll – G – Oakland, Calif. (6-4, 290)
Alameda Ta’amu – G – Seattle, Wash. (6-2, 335)
Senio Kelemete – T/DT – Seattle, Wash. (6-4, 270)

Sleeper: Cody Bruns – WR – Prosser, Wash. (5-11, 185)

Bruns is a classic over-achiever. He is too small and too slow to be a big time recruit, but he simply does whatever it takes. His level of production is unprecedented in high school football as he set a national record for receptions with 304 catches for 5,080 yards and 72 touchdowns. That’s getting the job done. He is an incredibly heady player who has a great natural feel for the game.

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