Monday, January 21, 2013
Changing the game: In-state stars
By Mason Kelley
SEATTLE -- When looking at Washington recruits whose commitments could be considered game-changers, it would be easy to point to Shaq Thompson.
After all, the safety was the most recent four-star standout to join the Huskies and had a successful freshman season, emerging as a defensive standout.
However, the true measure of coach Steve Sarkisian’s ability to reel in the nation’s top talent was revealed in 2011 with the addition of a pair of in-state prospects who had national powers pushing for their services.
When receiver Kasen Williams and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins gave verbal commitments prior to their senior seasons, they sent a message they believed in the direction of the program.
It started with Seferian-Jenkins. The summer before his final season of high school football, he held a press conference at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club. He pulled a Washington hat out of a bag, picking the Huskies over Texas.
Even as a senior in high school, Seferian-Jenkins was a 6-foot-7, 260-pound standout, causing some to think his future was at left tackle.
However, he committed as a tight end, and the decision has worked out well for Washington’s offense. Through two seasons, Seferian-Jenkins has 110 catches for 1,388 yards and 13 touchdowns, setting records along the way.
"Coach Sark, and the players there, it's going to be a national championship soon," Seferian-Jenkins said the day he made his announcement. "I want to be a part of that, that hometown guy, that local guy to help bring them back up. I think I can do that. I know I can do it. We're going to do it."
Not long after Seferian-Jenkins joined the 2011 class, Williams gave the program a verbal commitment.
Williams, whose father, Aaron, also played for the Huskies, made his announcement after Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline’s fall scrimmage. The school’s football stadium was packed with people and Williams revealed his decision by putting on his father’s jersey.
"(Aaron) did something amazing at the U-Dub, and what I want to do is match that," Williams said when he announced his decision. "I want people to look back and say Kasen was just as good as his dad, if not better."
The four-star receiver picked Washington over programs like Florida and LSU. He has piled up 113 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns over his first two years.
Williams and Seferian-Jenkins were listed in the ESPN 150. They were rated among the nation’s best. Landing Thompson in 2012 validated a recruiting reputation that started with a pair of in-state standouts. That resume continues to get better in the current class with five commits rated in the ESPN 300.