Jake Worthen Interview: Part 2


Here is part 2 of a 2 part interview with Scout.com Northwest recruiting analyst Jake Worthen. You can read Part 1 here.

Have you seen an impact on recruiting within the state and the northwest after the hiring of PAC-12 coaches Jim Mora and especially Mike Leach?

Yeah, you have definitely seen a different stance on in-state recruits. Mora hasn’t come after Washington players so much, but he did steal one of Udub’s coaches so that’s impacted who they were looking at, so it might get Washington to give an offer to a player like Tyler Hasty out of Bellevue that they had not offered yet, but losing some of their cornerback commitments might make them move there.

The previous Washington State coaching staff was a big difference. They didn’t really recruit the state of Washington at all. They went after a small group of kids but really looked outside the state for the basis of their class. The new staff, under Mike Leach, has the goal to use not just Washington, but the whole northwest as the building blocks for their class, but they will spend a lot more time in state.

Are there any recruits that had committed to Paul Wulff or Rick Neuheisel that you expect to uncommit or have already uncommitted after these coaching changes that you can see the University of Washington pursuing?

I don’t think any Washington State kids will back away from the Cougs. I could see Washington State backing away from some players that had been previously offered, so if they get some new kids they could back away from some guys, but I don’t really see Washington pursuing those kids. The two kids that are left in state are Jake Eldrenkamp and Tyler Hasty out of Bellevue. Eldrenkamp was offered by Coach Leach this week and I think he is high on Washington’s list and a guy that they will go after if they miss on some other targets (Editor’s Note: Eldrenkamp was recently offered by UW- This happened after the interview with Worthen). Hasty is a guy on both teams’ radar that I think Washington will move on.

With Demetrice Martin, who was a great recruiter, moving from Washington to UCLA, do you anticipate some of the players he attracted to the UW to move with him to UCLA?

Yeah, it’s been a tough week for Washington in that sense. Brian Harper switched his commitment earlier this week. He is a cornerback out of California who committed to Washington and is now committed to UCLA. I think you will see guys that they were in on like Brandon Beaver open things up. He openly admitted that Coach Martin was a huge reason he was coming to Washington. Beaver has a UCLA offer, but other programs are in on him as well. Kevin Seymour was a player out of California that with Martin they had a shot at. I don’t believe that they have a shot at him anymore with Coach Martin gone. You’ve seen a pretty big impact with the coach leaving. He was their top recruiter in California so Washington is going to have some work to do, not only in this class but in the next couple of classes replacing him and recruiting against him for players.

With signing day still a few months away, where do you expect still uncommitted Washington recruits Joshua Garnett, Zach Banner, and KeiVarae Russell to land?

Well the last couple of months will really determine the Washington class in my opinion. In state is where all of their big fish are from. They don’t have a lot of guys from California left that are big targets. Zach Banner is a huge kid they need to get, and I think that he is a kid that the Huskies are in the lead for right now. My guess is that Banner will land at Washington. With Garnett, it will come down to Stanford and Washington, but I see him ending up at Stanford. (Editor’s Note: UW has recently been removed from Joshua Garnett’s list. This also happened after the interview with Worthen). KeiVarae Russell, the running back out of Mariner High School, is a player that I really like, and I think he is going to end up at Washington as well. He has looked at Notre Dame and Cal, but at the end of the day I think he will stay close to home.

Do you think Garnett has the grades that Stanford is looking for?

I believe that Garnett has already received his acceptance. He submitted his academic application a long time ago, and I’m about 99 percent sure that he has already gotten that back, so I don’t see that being an issue for him. 

Do you think that KeiVarae Russell will be redshirted next year?

It will be interesting to see. I do not think that Russell will be a player that will be getting full time carries out of the backfield. With Polk gone, the Huskies will need depth and I can see him not redshirting for that reason. Coach Sarkisian has talked to him about not just playing running back. They may feature him in different roles like Jesse Callier has done, where he plays wide-out and comes around on fly sweeps. KeiVarae is a very good athlete and also has the ability to play straight up wide receiver, so the coaches have talked to him about playing slot receiver earlier in his career and then moving to the true half back position when he gets a little more muscle on his frame. I don’t see him getting a lot of playing time as a true ball carrier, but they can use him in a couple of different ways.

Are you expecting Chris Polk to enter the draft after this season?

I think you will see Polk entering the draft. He has an opportunity to come back to Washington and finish grad school, but I think that he showed skills this year, especially with catching the ball, pass blocking, and just how complete his game is. I think that the liability for sticking around and risking an injury is too high for him not to leave. I think that he will be one of the top backs selected in the NFL draft if he does leave.

Who do you think would get a majority of the carries for the Huskies next year if Polk left?

I think that we saw some good things from Jesse Callier. It will be a pretty even balance between him and Bishop Sankey. Both got a lot of playing time. I think that a lot of fans wondered about Callier because most of his carries came out of a different role than your normal running back. This year, when Callier got carries, you saw that he has that burst, maybe a higher gear and burst than Polk does, and showed a little bit of that ability to run through tackles like Polk can. I see Callier being the starter next year, but I see Sankey getting a lot of carries as well.

Who do you see as being the biggest locks on signing day for the Udub?

Lindquist. There is zero doubt in my mind that he will end up not signing at Washington, so he is a pretty big lock. Most of the in state kids that have committed verbally are pretty solid. When you see kids flip, it’s usually for a home town school. Guys like Nathan Dean out of Juanita High School or Jason Thompson out of Kennedy High School, his brother his Everett Thompson who is on the team right now, probably won’t move right now. I think most of those guys you see from around the area will sign with Washington and make it a done deal.

Are there any other guys you foresee flipping their commit from Washington or flipping to Washington, especially Cedric Dozier out of Lakes High School?

Yes, I think that Cedric is the biggest opportunity the Huskies have. Cedric has been an interesting case to recruit in that most agree that he will be a cornerback in college, but that doesn’t mean that he couldn’t play wide out. He has the physical abilities to play there. A school like Cal has told him that he could play wide out, while Washington’s early stance was much more, “We want you as a corner.” So that’s one of the main reasons he chose Cal. In the last week, Cal has gotten some huge commitments at wide receiver with the potential to land some players like Jordan Payton in the very near future. That will be a very crowded class, so you wonder if Dozier sees as much playing time as he did when he committed and if Cal wanted him as much as they did when he first committed. The home town thing is always a big factor as well. The most highly rated guy that is likely to flip to Washington would be Cedric Dozier.

Overall, how would you rate the Husky recruiting class right now?

To be honest, at this point I would say that it’s a bit of a disappointment. Right now, they haven’t capitalized on some of the guys yet. The three big fish left are Russell, Banner, and Garnett, and if they can get two of those three, which I think they will, it’s a good class. They didn’t really pull any big time playmakers out of California this year which they have shown the ability to do in the past. For this to be a great class, I think they need to get all the guys in state. If they could make Garnett happen they would have two 5 star offensive lineman coming in, a 4 star athlete in Russell, and 4 star quarterbacks in Miles and Lindquist. That becomes a great class. There is still the option of a guy like Dozier out there. The Huskies still have a lot of work to do, and right now they are sitting down the list of PAC-12 schools. They don’t have one of the better classes right now. We will see how they close, but in state is really where they need to get locked up in the next month or so.