Impact Report: Jermaine Kelly

Jermaine Kelly (FoxSportsNEXT.com)

It had been over a week, but reporters kept Jermaine Kelly's secret safe. And then Monday afternoon the 6-foot-2, 185-pound athlete from Salesian High School in Los Angeles spoke with Steve Sarkisian and then let everyone know - he would be a Washington Husky. This news was impactful on a number of fronts.

"They're bringing in an incredible recruiting class right now and we aren't done yet," Kelly told FoxSportsNEXT.com. He is Washington's 22nd public verbal commitment. "They have a ton of young talent on the roster and I think they're ready for a big run next year. They have a great coaching staff and every time I visited Washington, I always felt that family bond there that I didn't see at other schools.

"They really care about you there as more than just a football player and I know I'll grow a lot as a person being away from home. Right now, I'm just going to work as hard as I can so when I get there next year, I'll be ready to play. I want to play right away, coach Heyward told me he wants me on the field and I don't want to redshirt, I want to get out there and compete from day one."

How Good Is Kelly? - "For me, and I've said this a few times today, he has more upside than any other corner in the West. I like Priest Willis a lot but I think Kelly is a better natural athlete, more flexible in his hips, better top end speed. He's a great looking WR prospect too, could easily play on that side of the ball if needed." - FoxSportsNEXT.com National Analyst Greg Biggins.

Kelly, ranked as the No. 22 cornerback in the country by FoxSportsNEXT.com, is one of the top athletes out west. To add to what Biggins said, Kelly has an impressive burst from a stop, which allows him to easily change direction while others are a step behind. It's a big bonus to get a cornerback that's also a top-rated receiver too and were prolific at the position. It means Kelly not only knows what receivers like to do and how they go about doing it, but he also has the athleticism and hands to match the top pass-catchers stride for stride. Not to compare him to Richard Sherman, but Sherman is a player who went to Stanford as a receiver but ended up a cornerback…look what has happened to his career, mostly based on his size and aggressiveness. Not saying the same will be the case with Kelly, but it's obviously happened before.

Size Matters - Speaking of players like Sherman, getting a big, fast, athletic cornerback is a rare feat these days, but Washington pulled it off by getting the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Kelly and Kevin King, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound corner from Bishop O'Dowd in Oakland. In checking out Washington's commit list, 18 of the 22 commits are listed as being 6-foot-2 and taller. Nine of them are 6-4 and taller. Sarkisian talked a lot about getting length in this class and it's clear he's doing something about it.

How Does This Commitment Affect The Numbers? - Kelly and King give Washington two very good cornerbacks. With the matriculation of All-Pac-12 CB Desmond Trufant and Adam Long, the Huskies still have a number of quality players at the position: Gregory Ducre, Tre Watson, Marcus Peters, Cleveland Wallace, Darien Washington and Alabama transfer Travell Dixon. Brandon Beaver got plenty of work at safety during December bowl practices and we expect that's where he'll start out again when football comes back in April. That means Washington will have eight legitimate cornerbacks by the time fall camp convenes, and that's plenty. It should allow both the true freshmen to redshirt if they need to, but Kelly especially is talented enough and physically ready enough to contribute right away if needed.

As far as the total number of commitments for the 2013 class, Troy Williams and Trevor Walker have officially enrolled at Washington, and Cameron Van Winkle is expected to enroll in April, so all three players could count against the 2012 class - leaving UW at 19 current commitments for the 2013 recruiting class in a best-case scenario. With the news that LB Blake Rodgers and S James Sample leaving Washington, it's the first news in an expected string of reports that will thin the Husky herd. If Washington takes a full boat of 25 players for 2013 - that means they have room for six more verbal commitments before Signing Day on February, 6th - it means UW would have to still need to trim their roster by 10-12 players. There's quite a few players coming back from multiple knee injuries, for instance - Deontae Cooper, Hauoli Jamora and Colin Tanigawa - and others like Erik Kohler and Cooper Pelluer that have struggled mightily with the injury bug their whole careers. Obviously speculation on what might happen with the roster is simply that - speculation. But the bottom line is, to fit in all the new talent the UW staff is going to have to really get creative in making their numbers work. They've done it in the past, and this year will be no different.

Kelly is a Specialist Too - Watching his 2012 Senior highlights, Kelly had half-a-dozen returns for touchdown via kick, punt or turnover. Washington, who forced 33 turnovers last season, found some playmakers - but you always need more. John Ross, who verbally committed Friday at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, is known for his ability as a kick returner - and Kelly is another player who really shows an aptitude for special teams.

Washington has struggled breaking big returns; the last time they scored via kickoff return was in 2007 when Louis Rankin took one to the house in the Apple Cup. Before that? Roc Alexander versus Idaho in 2001. That's awful. Getting players like Kelly and Ross to join up with players like Jaydon Mickens and Marvin Hall and now all of a sudden the Huskies have a group of returners that might actually put some fear in the opposition.

Finishing the Recruiting Cycle Strong - Kelly's verbal commitment finishes up a fabulous four days for the Huskies when it comes to recruiting. Ross committed Friday and then the next morning Upland, Calif.'s Joe Mathis - the No. 15-ranked defensive end in the country - committed to UW at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. And two days later Kelly made his commitment public. All three players are four star talents and the UW coaches are hunting for more. They need to shore up the commitments of players like Demorea Stringfellow, Darrell Daniels, Daeshon Hall - all of whom are expected to take official visits to other schools in January - and they shouldn't have a problem doing that, but there's a number of 'King Salmon' - to use a Sarkisian expression - still available and looking hard at the Huskies.

Going Head to Head With UCLA - While Washington fans are incredulous about Sean Harlow de-committing from UW to go to Oregon State, UCLA fans are equally steamed about losing prospects to Washington. To them, it's inconceivable - but it's become an inevitability since Jim Mora became head coach at Westwood. When he got there one of the first moves he made was brining Demetrice Martin home. And then he went and poached UW commits Tairen Owens, Taylor Lagace, Jeremy Castro and Jordan Payton. While the Bruins fired the first shot, Washington was happy to oblige by ripping Psalm Wooching away from UCLA and then recently hired UW legend Marques Tuiasosopo away from Mora.

This season has been more of the same. UCLA grabbed one of the 'St. Tosh's Day Massacre' commits, Poasi Moala. They tried to get another one - RB Lavon Coleman - to trip to Westwood, but that doesn't look like it's going to happen. And now the Huskies got Kelly to switch his commit from UCLA, so the competition continues. Myles Jack, who is currently committed to UCLA, and Eddie Vanderdoes are two elite prospects still looking hard at both schools. With Kelly's commitment, it's hard to know if the Huskies are in on Fresno standout Johnny Johnson, but at the end he'll have only taken two official visits - to UW and UCLA - so it's just a matter of time before he declares for the Bruins. And one other defensive back - Cerritos Gahr's Patrick Enewally - is one more player that has a final three of UW, UCLA and Boise State. Those three were also Kelly's final three.

Either way it's going to be a wild finish to an eventual 2013 recruiting cycle with Washington and UCLA going head to head all the way to the wire.

Jermaine Kelly Scout.com Profile

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