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How can UW recruit its best class ever? It starts with these five prospects

DerekJohnsonDerekJohnson Administrator, Swaye's Wigwam Posts: 59,847
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By Andy Yamashita Seattle Times staff reporter

Jedd Fisch has lofty recruiting goals at Washington. He didn’t
waste any time laying out his expectations to “do everything we can to
have the best recruiting class Washington has ever had for the class of
2025” during his national signing day news conference on Feb. 7. 

Washington’s best class since 1999 was the 2019 class,
which was rated 15th in the nation according to the 247Sports composite
rankings. Brandon Huffman, 247Sports national recruiting director, said
Fisch faces an uphill climb to fulfill his objective this season. 

Fisch hasn’t been helped by timing, Huffman added. Former Washington coach
Kalen DeBoer’s departure to Alabama following the College Football
Playoff championship game meant UW was undergoing coaching changes while
other programs were hosting junior prospects on campus. 

“You can’t just assume you can rest on your relationships and the laurels of
success,” Huffman said. “You have to sell every part of the package.”

UW’s new coaching staff’s first priority was to finish up the 2024 cycle.
Then, the NCAA calendar entered a recruiting dead period on Feb. 5,
prohibiting coaches from any in-person contact with prospects or the
prospect’s family until March 3. 

“January ended up being a net loss, so they haven’t had as many visits as maybe they would’ve had a
year ago,” Huffman said. “But it’s still early. There’s still an
opportunity for them to get more guys on campus for spring football when
it starts or even official visits.”

Here are five players Washington can’t miss out on if it wants to achieve a top-15 class for the 2025 recruiting cycle:

Zaydrius Rainey-Sale — 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker

Bethel High School, Spanaway, 247Sports composite four-star

Six hours before Washington took the field against Michigan in the CFP championship game, the Huskies got some good news. 

Local
linebacker Zaydrius Rainey-Sale — the No. 1 high school player in the
state of Washington in 2025 according to 247Sports composite ranking —
committed to UW and DeBoer. It was a statement of intent for the
Huskies, who didn’t have a single Washington resident among their 2024
recruits at the time. 

Rainey-Sale’s pledge lasted about 96 hours. He decommitted from UW during the aftermath of DeBoer’s abrupt exit. 

He was quickly reoffered by Fisch’s staff, and Huffman said Washington
still has a chance to keep the state’s unanimous top high-school talent
in the Pacific Northwest.

Huffman added Rainey-Sale is considered a particularly high-upside prospect because of his age. He celebrated
his 16th birthday in November 2023, near the end of his junior preps
season, and will play a majority of his freshman year of college at 17
years old. 

“He’s a three-phase linebacker, who’s best football is still ahead of him,” Huffman said.

Dijon Lee — 6-foot-3.5, 180-pound cornerback 

Mission Viejo High School, Mission Viejo, Calif., 247Sports composite five-star

Dijon
Lee, one of the top prospects in the 2025 class, included Washington
among his eight finalists on Jan. 5, along with Arizona, Florida,
Georgia, LSU, Oregon, Penn State and USC. Huffman said the Huskies were
considered Lee’s leaders entering the CFP championship game.

Landing
Lee’s commitment would be a major coup for the Huskies. He’s currently
considered a 247Sports composite five-star prospect, the No. 5
cornerback in the nation and the top player in California. 

“I like his positional versatility,” Huffman said. “I think he’s a corner, but he can also play safety if he needs to.”

Washington
hasn’t added a five-star prospect since former UW quarterback Sam Huard
in 2021. Lee’s current rating would be sixth highest in UW program
history according to 247Sports, just behind Matt Tuiasosopo and before
Sav’ell Smalls.

However, Lee also picked up an offer from DeBoer
and Alabama just three days after the former Washington coach was
officially announced as Nick Saban’s successor. 

Comments

  • DerekJohnsonDerekJohnson Administrator, Swaye's Wigwam Posts: 59,847
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    Huffman said Lee’s size, ball skills, physicality and speed have made
    him a highly touted prospect. His strong performances for Mission
    Viejo, which won the 2023 CIF Division 1-AA state championship game
    against prep powerhouse De La Salle, have also proven he can compete at
    some of the highest levels of competition. 

    “He’s the kind of well-rounded DB that college coaches covet,” Huffman said. 

    Josiah Sharma — 6-foot-5, 295-pound defensive lineman

    Folsom High School, Folsom, Calif., 247Sports composite three-star

    Similar to Rainey-Sale, defensive lineman Josiah Sharma committed to Washington
    and DeBoer during the lead up to the CFP championship game. The Huskies
    had been the first program to offer Sharma, and he rewarded their early
    outreach. 

    Sharma also chose to decommit when DeBoer left. Huffman called it a
    tough blow for Washington because the 2024 defensive line class on the
    West Coast was strong, but the Huskies failed to retain signees Noah
    Carter, Ratumana Bulabalavu and Keona Wilhite after all the coaching
    turnover. 

    Sharma’s options have also changed. His only held
    offers from UW, Nevada, Washington State and Arizona when he declared he
    was heading to Montlake. Since decommitting on Jan. 27, he’s added
    offers from Texas, Oregon, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Miami, Utah and DeBoer’s
    Alabama among others. 

    “I don’t think they can afford to miss on him,” Huffman said. 

    Huffman said Sharma’s frame makes him an intriguing prospect. A
    weaker defensive line class on the west coast in 2025 also raises his
    value. Huffman also added he considers Sharma, Lee and Rainey-Sale UW’s
    most crucial targets in 2025 because the Huskies either had a commitment
    or led for all three at one point in this cycle. 

    Christian Thatcher — 6-foot-2, 205-pound linebacker

    Arbor View High School, Las Vegas, 247Sports composite four-star 

    Christian Thatcher didn’t become a major option for Washington until Fisch’s arrival on Montlake. 

    Thatcher
    was heavily leaning toward Arizona early in the recruiting cycle,
    Huffman said, and picked up a UW offer on Jan. 20, a week after Fisch
    was officially unveiled at Washington.

    “He loved Jedd Fisch, he loved (UW defensive line coach) Jason
    Kaufusi,” Huffman said. “I would say they’re on his shortlist right
    now.”

    Thatcher can continue Washington’s recent run of success
    recruiting Las Vegas natives. Projected 2024 first-round picks Rome
    Odunze and Troy Fautanu were prep stars in Southern Nevada, along with
    former UW wide receiver Germie Bernard. Huffman described Thatcher as a
    modern linebacker who can cover the entire field. 

    Huffman noted there are other perks to recruiting Christian Thatcher, too. His younger
    brother, Thaddeus Thatcher, is a quarterback in the class of 2027 and
    already holds offers from UNLV and Colorado. 

    Jackson Lloyd — 6-foot-7, 290-pound offensive lineman 

    Carmel High School, Carmel, Calif., 247Sports composite four-star 

    Huffman admitted the Central Coast is rarely the focus of the conversation when discussing California recruiting.

    Yet
    Jackson Lloyd has continued to draw attention because of his
    athleticism, conditioning and size. Huffman said he thinks Lloyd is one
    of the top-3 offensive lineman on the West Coast. 

    “He’s kind of a unicorn for that area,” he said.

    Lloyd,
    a three-sport athlete who also plays baseball and basketball, has
    demonstrated many of the traits considered crucial to translating high
    school dominance into college production. Huffman said Lloyd’s
    basketball highlight reel includes one-handed dunks off inbounds passes,
    while his baseball abilities hint at good muscle memory and
    coordination. 

    Additionally, Huffman said Washington might’ve led
    early for Lloyd, too, since the offensive lineman’s mother is a UW alum.
    He also plays a position of need for the Huskies, who only have 11
    scholarship offensive linemen on the roster. 

    But the Huskies will again face a challenge from DeBoer and the Crimson Tide, and Huffman
    said he currently believes Lloyd will head east. 

    “He’s a guy that when you get him to college,” Huffman said, “you put on weight, get in a
    strength and conditioning program and put him on a training table, and
    he’ll have a chance to really flourish.”

  • dirtysouwfdawgdirtysouwfdawg Member, Swaye's Wigwam Posts: 11,780
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    is it normal to write an article using someone else’s writing like this? Also, only agree with the instate guy and Lee. They have so many offers out to high rated guys. They are doing decent getting some to schedule OV’s so far but need a lot more. Then, can they close? I wonder if fisher of boys is taking a different stance on how to spend NIL money…

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