If Connor Cree's day goes as planned, he will have one minute to spare.
Today, starting at 7 a.m. local time, high school football recruits can fax in their signed national letters of intent to play at FBS programs.
If things go as charted – and they rarely do – the University of Washington will make another splash on the recruiting scene under coach Steve Sarkisian. The Huskies are projected to have a group of recruits ranked somewhere between 10th (Scout.com presently has them 11th) and 25th (Rivals.com and ESPN.com have them 22nd).
On the other side of the state, Washington State, despite a recent rash of decommitments, is expected to ink a class that should rank between 50th and 75th nationally.
Cree is part of the UW’s haul. His plan is to arrive at Skyline High School in Sammamish with teammate Kasen Williams, ready to make their decisions to join the Huskies official.
“I’m doing it at 7:01 (a.m.),” said Cree, projected as a defensive end/linebacker.
Others, such as Auburn High’s Danny Shelton, a News Tribune “Northwest Nuggets” selection, are not certain when they’ll send in their letter of intent to Sarkisian and his coaching staff.
“I know we have to sign in the morning,” Shelton said. “I have to find a fax machine.”
At noon, Sarkisian will hold a signing-day press conference to discuss his third class of recruits. Here is a glimpse at three key position groups the team has attempted to address this offseason:
Jermaine Kearse is set to return for his senior season, and could take that final step toward becoming the conference’s top weapon. Despite injuries, Devin Aguilar is dependable. James Johnson is looking to rebound after a sophomore slump. And Kevin Smith, who played as a true freshman, is an emerging entity at the UW.
A few gems should be added to that deep corps of receiver today.
Williams, from Skyline, is the big name – arguably the state’s top prospect, and the Parade national prep player of the year.
“I feel good, feel confident and feel like I can make some guys work and push them to get better,” said Williams, the son of Aaron Williams, the former Wilson High and UW star. “Obviously I’m going for that starting spot, so I’m itching for the opportunity to push myself as well.”
Like the 6-foot-2 Williams, two of the other three receivers the Huskies are bringing in are big targets – 6-3 Josh Perkins, out of Gahr High School in Cerritos, Calif.; and 6-2 Jamaal Jones, out of Graham-Kapowsin High.
At the end of this season, Sarkisian lamented the lack of a strong tight end presence. He added that one of the team’s top offseason priorities was rediscovering ways to utilize that position.
He will have a blue-chip recruit to aid the effort – Gig Harbor High’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
When Kavario Middleton was dismissed before last season, and Chris Izbicki left the team a few days before the Holiday Bowl, an already thin position group became even skinnier.
Expect the big man from Gig Harbor – he’s 6-7 and 253 pounds, and a unanimous top-three tight end recruit nationally – to get an opportunity immediately. He is also enrolling at the UW for spring quarter to speed his orientation.
“I’m going to work hard, study my film and study my playbook,” Seferian-Jenkins said. “I want to play earlier, but at the same time, I want to get my degree earlier – in 31/2 years.”
One of the biggest questions about this Huskies recruiting class is did they grab the impact linebackers they need for the future?
With Mason Foster and Victor Aiyewa scheduled to graduate, two spots are open. The coaching staff is high on Thomas Tutogi, a transfer from Southwestern College in Chula Vista, Calif., who is already at the UW, possibly inheriting one of those positions. After that, do they have an impact performer from the incoming group of Californians – Scott Lawyer, Matthew Lyons and Corey Waller?
Regardless, Sarkisian’s class of players is highly-regarded. And he could land another signing-day surprise today to wrap up the activity.
“(The UW) has had a very good January (with oral commitments),” said Allen Wallace, the founder of West Coast-based SuperPrep. “They’ve stepped up to the plate. Washington football has been down ... but the brand, with the right coaches, they can still reel in superior talent.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports