Wednesday, March 27, 2013
How Sarkisian assembled UW's 2013 team
By Mason Kelley
The signing of in-state stars like Kasen Williams in 2011 could be looked upon as a turning point if the Huskies take the next step in 2013.
SEATTLE -- This is the year. Washington coach Steve Sarkisian is preparing for his fifth season with the Huskies and, after three straight bowl appearances, 2013 seems to be the season where the program is expected to take the next step.
After signing four straight top 25 recruiting classes, Washington is now expected to put a top 25 team on the field.
The Huskies have a mix of veteran players and young talent, which could lead to the program challenging for a Pac-12 North Division title.
Here is a year-by-year look at how this team was put together:
Sarkisian didn’t have much time to assemble his first class. He had to hold onto the prospects Tyrone Willingham recruited while putting the finishing touches on a group that has largely cycled out of the program.
However, two of the prospects remaining from that group are quarterback Keith Price and receiver James Johnson, who are both expected to be key contributors for the Huskies in 2013.
In Sarkisian’s first full recruiting class, the coach signed a big group -- rated No. 20 in the nation -- led by safety Sean Parker, who was rated the No. 49 prospect in the ESPN 150. From linebacker John Timu to offensive linemen Erik Kohler, Micah Hatchie and Ben Riva the Huskies piled up prospects who will be counted on as starters this season.
The class included a total of seven offensive linemen. The only one who isn’t still in the program is Colin Porter, who was forced to give up the game due to shoulder injuries.
Washington put a premium on local talent, signing 10 in-state recruits in a class that was rated No. 24 in the nation. The top two names in this group were receiver Kasen Williams and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who were both rated in the ESPN 150.
Williams and Seferian-Jenkins have played to their potential over two seasons so far, running back Bishop Sankey had a breakout season in 2012, while cornerback Marcus Peters seems poised for a big season in 2013.
Danny Shelton has matured into one of the anchors on the defensive line and Travis Feeney has found a home at linebacker after starting his college career as a safety.
The Huskies overhauled their coaching staff leading up to signing day. Bringing in ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi paid immediate dividends, helping the program flip Shaq Thompson from California.
While Thompson was the biggest name, the class was rated No. 23 in the nation.
Because of the depth in the program, this group wasn’t counted on to play as much early in their careers as some of the other classes Washington signed under Sarkisian.
Rated the No. 19 class in the country, Washington signed its best crop of prospects under Sarkisian in 2013.
The Huskies signed five players in the ESPN 300, including the nation’s No. 6 receiver, Damore’ea Stringfellow.
Quarterback Troy Williams and safety Trevor Walker enrolled early to get a head start on their college careers but, as talented as this group is, there is enough depth in the program to redshirt a bulk of this class.