University of Washington football coach Chris Petersen was asked to give a little rundown on all 24 new Huskies from national letter of intent signing day Wednesday.
He politely declined, noting that the individual assessments would sound too similar to the enthusiasm he feels for the overall class.
“These guys are great,” he said. “But I don’t want to sit here (and say) ‘This guy is the greatest player that’s ever came to the University of Washington: Just watch how fast he goes to the NFL.’ That’s what everybody says on this deal. I can’t tell you how strongly I feel about these guys, but that’s what it’s going to sound like, and everybody’s going to be, ‘Oh, here we go again.’ … I’ll think that across the board and on paper, we feel really, really strong about it.”
Most recruiting services and websites were more reserved in their assessments, ranking UW’s haul around the top 25 nationally, and fifth in the Pacific-12 Conference.
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However, several times over his 30-minute press conference Petersen stressed how such assessments are sometimes befuddling in the short term and eventually proved flat-out meaningless over a four- or five-year college career.
Petersen was pleased that the letters came in as planned, which he attributed to a soft-sell recruiting approach that simply lays out the philosophy of the program and the assets of the university.
He praised the breadth and depth of the class. By the numbers, there are eight players from Washington, 11 from California and one each from Idaho, Maryland, Oregon, Texas and Wyoming.
“I think the kids in this state get the power and the beauty of this university,” Petersen said. “And not just football-wise. … I think they see the whole picture. Everybody wants to talk about taking care of their backyard and their state, and that’s much easier said than done. These guys are highly recruited guys; they have a lot of different choices.”
Thirteen are listed as defensive players, 10 on offense and one is a long snapper. But Petersen admitted that some could change sides of the ball or fill roles on both sides.
“Across the board, I think it’s really what we needed,” he said. “We really targeted, ‘OK, we want this many guys at this position,’ and it doesn’t always work out that way. We’re not going to take a guy just to take him, to fill a need if we don’t think he’s good enough. And so we got our quarterback (Jake Browing). We got our running back in Myles (Gaskin). I think Chico (McClatcher) could play both. We got some receivers. We wanted to take a tight end, and Michael Neal I think is an interesting guy.”
Petersen noted that these offensive linemen are the tallest he has ever seen. He said the defensive linemen each bring a different set of skills. He seemed excited to add five linebackers to a program that he believes was short at that position. And while granting that long-snapper isn’t a glamour spot, he went out of his way to stress that A.J. Carty “can fire the rock.”
Two members of the class — freshman Browning and transfer sophomore defensive back Ezekiel Turner — already have enrolled at UW. And Petersen implied others also could come in early.
But despite his eagerness to get started, Petersen said he understood if some players want to stick around for their full high school senior experience.
“To us it’s really like Christmas Eve around here,” he said. “We’ve got all these great presents that we just can’t wait to open. But we really can’t see them or do anything with them until they get here in the summertime; and even then it’s not really football, it’s weights and those kinds of things. And so we’ll be really, really excited in early August to let these guys go. … We like these guys as kids. On paper it’s exactly what you want it to look like. And now we’re excited to see how they progress and develop.”