Last year, Washington capped off the 2012 recruiting class with a bang: Shaq Thompson, the five-star safety that was ranked 4th in the country overall, 1st in the state of California, and 1st at his position, signed with Washington after having committed to Cal twice before. The move came shortly after Tosh Lupoi, the Cal defensive line coach and super-recruiter extraordinaire, joined Steve Sarkisian’s staff. Not only did the sequence of events land the Huskies a huge recruit that went on to put together a fantastic freshman year, it was also exhilarating and daring. It angered Cal fans to no end while filling the heads of Husky fans with images of Tosh flying up and down the California coast convincing recruits to switch their commitment to Washington.
Fast forward to now, only eight days away from National Signing Day. Tosh has indeed been a big part of putting together a terrific Class of 2013, perhaps the best in over a decade for the Huskies. There are multiple four-star recruits likely to sign on at the wide receiver and defensive line spots, and there is still time and room for a few other commits.
The only potential problem? No Shaq Thompson, version 2013. While Sark has received verbal commits from 9 four-star recruits, several of them very, very highly ranked within their position, a commitment from a five-star super-recruit like Thompson has not come. I wrote several weeks ago about the possibility of just such a player choosing the Huskies. In particular, I pointed to middle linebacker Reuben Foster of Auburn, Alabama and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes of Auburn, California.
It now seems almost certain that Foster will select a school other than Washington. He is taking one final official visit to San Diego State, which is likely more for the purposes of entertainment than for checking out a school he is seriously considering, and it seems that it will either be Auburn, Alabama, or Georgia. Foster was always a long-shot to the Huskies, and at this point it isn’t really worth hoping for.
Eddie Vanderdoes, on the other hand, is certainly still in play for Sark, Lupoi, and Co. It appears that he will make his decision on National Signing Day (February 6th) between USC, a school to which he was once verbally committed, UCLA, and UW. Notre Dame and Alabama are also possibilities. He has raved about each school he has visited, and seems as if he would enjoy any of the three choices, which has made him incredibly difficult to read. No one that I have talked to that covers recruiting can confidently pick where Vanderdoes will land, though it does appear that UCLA may be in the lead.
So, don’t read the title of the article to mean that Washington is a near-lock for such a huge signing. It just looks as if those hopes have boiled down to Vanderdoes. The odds are still no better than one in three, and likely a little worse if UCLA really is in the lead right now.
If the Huskies do get a letter of intent from Vanderdoes on the 6th, the right thing to do as a Husky fan is to celebrate. Jump up and down, throw confetti. While it’s always possible for high-profile recruits to flop, this guy is as close to a sure thing as you get, at one of the most important positions in the game. ESPN has him ranked #1 at his position, #1 in the state of California, and #10 overall in the nation. Scout and Rivals both peg him as the 2nd best defensive tackle in the country. He is already 6’3″ and 310 pounds as a high school senior, his strength is outstanding, and his speed off the ball is fantastic. He would likely contribute big-time as a freshman, and by the time he is a sophomore or junior, he likely will have reached at least an all-conference level.
If he chooses UCLA or USC, which is the more likely scenario? Don’t sweat it. Take a moment to think about how awesome it would have been to have him playing alongside Danny Shelton next year, and instead take a look at all the young Class of 2013 commits that are ready to become Huskies. Not every class can have a player of that caliber, and not every class needs one to be successful.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, in the meantime, watch all the Vanderdoes tape you can get your hands on, look at his recruiting profiles over and over again, repeat “Vanderdoes” and “Washington” over and over again in your head in the hopes that it telepathically influences him. Whatever helps you get through the next eight days. Just please, do not try to recruit him on twitter. It’s technically an NCAA violation, the guy is clearly weary of the recruiting process after so many months of being hounded, and it never, ever works.
As always, thanks for reading. Check in regularly from now until the 6th for recruiting updates, and of course once National Signing Day has arrived, you can depend on us to keep you informed on every letter of intent faxed in, every commit flipped, and everything else that goes on within those 24 wild hours.