Coach's Corner

There is a new energy at Washington. Heading into the coaches office the other day I talked with a number of Husky football players, and to a man, each mentioned a renewed enthusiasm surrounding the program. It's in the weight room, it's in study hall, and it's particularly in recruiting.

Head Coach Steve Sarkisian has already breathed excitement to a program that barely had a pulse while enduring a 14-game losing streak. He and his assistants have refused to use the transition as an excuse to have a down recruiting class. Unlike either the staffs of Rick Neuheisel or Tyrone Willingham, these guys were determined to make something out of nothing. Of course, when you're coming off a winless campaign nobody can assume there is anything left in the cupboard.

Coach Neuheisel inherited almost a pat hand, and Coach Willingham falsely assumed that because it was Washington that there were plenty of good players already in the program. Obviously their record and number of NFL draft choices over the past four years would indicate otherwise.

Coach Sarkisian immediately hit the recruiting trail as soon as he set foot in Seattle, barely allowing himself a cup of coffee after his initial press conference to visit Bellevue and Skyline. Having coached at USC, he knows good players make good coaches. So he set out to bring in at least 20-25 kids if he could. I think he will end up with about 20 or so, as the Huskies are currently sitting on 17 commitments, with hopes of bringing in up to five more.

Working heavily in the state of California, Sarkisian and his staff benefited from having familiarity with this recruiting region of the country. They also weren't afraid to go after and sign some JC kids. Getting them into school is the next problem, but you usually sign a JC player with the idea that he can at least be a back-up.

Already having balance in his class, Sarkisian only needed to land a few offensive linemen and a kicking specialist and that appears to be happening. Considering the abundance of young running backs and receivers already in the program it wasn't as necessary stock up there, although they are still in the running with at least one big-time receiver.

Of course they could lose some at the finish, but chances are most of their recruits will hold firm. Then, just like with the JC kids, it becomes a matter of all the prospects becoming academically eligible. Whatever happens though, this is already a good transitional recruiting class and with a few gems at the end could end up being even better.

It should be noted that the new energy in the program has made its way to the players, who I understand did a great job of hosting the recruits.

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