BY Adam Lewis 08:48PM 02/05/2014

Baker, McGary highlight Huskies football class

National letter of intent day brought 24 players to the University of Washington, usually a big public deal for a new coaching staff. Not Wednesday.

“I appreciate you guys being here,” Huskies coach Chris Petersen said to a light media gathering at the UW Founders Club. “What are you doing here? I was going to be downtown myself, but I didn’t think I could make it back to the one or two of you who might show up.”

The overlap with the Seahawks’ Super Bowl parade was perhaps the only initial drawback to Petersen’s inaugural recruiting class. When Petersen began his press conference at 3 p.m., the Huskies already secured faxes from each prospect they expected, a rare feat in the world of college football recruiting.

Petersen said the pursuit of new recruits went smoothly after Washington hired him to replace Steve Sarkisian Dec. 6. Along with his staff, he built a 2014 class that features four players ranked four stars by Scout.com, a national recruiting website. Rivals.com, a Yahoo spinoff, also ranked it 36th nationally.

Petersen’s fortunes were boosted by in-state commitments from Bellevue High School S Budda Baker — ranked by most recruiting services as the top recruit in the Northwest — and OL Kaleb McGary, a 6-foot-8, 280 pounder from Fife High School near Tacoma. McGary and Baker were ranked four stars by Scout.com.

“The second we got here, that’s all we heard about,” Petersen said of Baker, who committed to Oregon before reneging in January. Tuesday he announced on King5 TV his plans to stay near home.

“Of course I knew about him when we were in Boise,” Petersen said. “I think he’s a fabulous player. The thing I’m really excited about is I think he’s every bit as good, if not a better person.”

Six players are from Washington, 15 from California, and one each hails from Montana, Idaho and British Columbia. Petersen said Baker’s commitment was important because he could fill an immediate need in the secondary and kick-return game.

“With our need in the secondary, it was like ‘this is the guy.’ This is the guy we gotta start with,” Petersen said. “He’s so explosive with the ball. You look at his tape and you’re like we gotta figure out some ways to get him the ball.”

Scout.com ranked McGary the 27th-best offensive tackle in the country. In the weeks leading up to signing day, he narrowed his choice to WSU, UW and Wisconsin, before eventually opting to attend college 45 minutes up the I-5 corridor.

Petersen said he’ll first give McGary a chance to play defensive tackle or defensive end, his preferred position.

“I learned this a long time ago: I think if a kid feels very strongly about a position or one side of the ball, you really need to give him a chance to compete there if that’s where his heart is,” said Petersen, a former quarterback at UC Davis. “I was one of those guys who (coaches) always tried to get moved. Nobody wanted me to play quarterback because I was too short, too small.”

Lupoi cleared of charges

As first reported Monday in the Seattle Times, former UW defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi will bring down no punishment on Washington over allegations that he paid for a recruit’s tutoring and online classes.

Lupoi was the subject of a six-week NCAA investigation for allegedly giving $4,500 in separate cash payments to Lynnwood High School defensive lineman Andrew Basham. The investigation was sparked after former Lynnwood High School assistant track and field coach Mike Davis accused Lupoi in an LA Times article in December.

A letter Monday from NCAA director of enforcement Tom Hosty addressed to UW president Michael Young said Lupoi won’t face punishment, nor will the school.

In January, the UW paid Lupoi $300,000 as part of a mutual separation agreement. The deal terminated his contract with the school one year early. Lupoi had been assigned to unspecified  duties within the UW athletic department after Sarkisian left for USC and Petersen decided not to keep him on the Huskies coaching staff.

A full list of UW’s 2014 recruiting class:

Player Pos. Ht./Wt. School State Skinny
Budda Baker S 5-10/180 Bellevue WA State Player of Year
Shane Bowman DE 6-4/250 Bellevue WA First-team All-State
Jaimie Bryant DL 6-5/300 Tumwater WA Evergreen Conf. MVP
Devin Burleson DL 6-7/260 Highland CA Basketball No. 1 sport
K.J. Carta-Samuels QB 6-2/225 Bellarmine CA Made TNT “Top 100″
Will Dissly DL 6-4/250 Bozeman MT Montana Player of Year
Jomon Dotson RB 6-0/178 Am. Canyon CA Napa Player of Year
Greg Gaines DL 6-1/305 La Habra CA Freeway League MVP
Darren Gardenhire CB 6-0/180 Cabrillo CA League Def. MVP
Naijiel Hale CB 5-11/180 John Bosco CA All-CIF South Section
Matt James OL 6-5/270 C. d’Alene ID Selected All-Idaho
Jaylen Johnson DL 6-3/245 Centennial CA Def. MVP Of League
Sidney Jones CB 6-1/170 W. Covina CA All-CIF So. Section
Brayden Lenius WR 6-5/220 Chaminade CA All-CIF So. Section
Brandon Lewis CB 5-11/180 Pleasant Grove CA No. 81 recruit in Cal
Drew Lewis LB 6-2/200 Eastlake WA No. 7 recruit in state
Kaleb McGary DL 6-7/285 Fife WA SPL Def. MVP
Jo Jo McIntosh S 6-1/195 Chaminade CA All-CIF So. Section
Dante Pettis WR 6-1/175 Junipero CA All-CIF So. Section
Drew Sample TE 6-5/235 Newport WA First-team All-KingCo
Jesse Sosebee OL 6-6/300 Edison CA All-CIF So. Section
John Turner OL 6-4/275 Loyola CA All-Sierra League
Tristan Vizcaino K/P 6-2/195 Damien CA All-Inland Valley
Lavon Washington S 5-11/180 McClymonds CA All-East Bay

YourThoughts

  • Jeff

    36th is decent, but Sark had been getting higher ranked classes and UW was coming off their best season in a while, #25 ranking.. that said, Petersen had been able to do more with lesser ranked recruiting classes than he got this time around

  • 1coolguy

    This was such a huge day for the Husky program it’s a shame Petersen didn’t delay the presser until today. It was obvious all the Seahawks were going to take all the air out of the room Wednesday, so there’s no way any other item of note would compete. What should have been a headline event turned in a footnote, unfortunately.
    Petersen and crew did an amazing recruiting job, given the circumstances. I hope they get their well deserved due.