SEATTLE (AP) - Steve Sarkisian believes that Washington's recruiting class makes up in quality what it might lack in numbers.
The Huskies signed 22 players to national letters of intent Wednesday, a smaller number than the typical 25. Two players are already on campus: safety Trevor Walker out of Arlington, Texas, and quarterback Troy Williams out of Los Angeles, who could end up becoming the individual star of the class.
Even though it wasn't a full class and lacked the star power of recent years when the Huskies landed the likes of Shaq Thompson, Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the overall depth could be the best since Sarkisian arrived.
"I believe this class is in the upper echelon of our conference in a year where our conference did a really nice job of recruiting," Sarkisian said. "But I believe this class is right up there with the best ones in our conference."
The highlight for Sarkisian was the trio of wide receivers Washington put together. The Huskies landed 6-foot-4 Darrell Daniels out of Pittsburg, Calif.; 6-foot-3 Damore'ea Stringfellow out of Paris, Calif.; and 5-foot-11 speedster John Ross from Long Beach, Calif. Sarkisian said he would put that trio of receivers up against any other group of receivers that signed with schools Wednesday.
"We felt like we needed a group that could come in here and score touchdowns, not just in the red zone but from a distance," Sarkisian said. "We didn't want three of the same guys. ... I can honestly sit here and say these are the three wide receivers we targeted that we felt were the top three in this class that could have an impact on our program."
Washington also made a commitment to seek more length and speed on defense in an effort to help stop the spread offenses that have chewed up the Huskies in recent years. That desire to get bigger bodies on defense was reinforced when Sarkisian got a chance to attend some Seattle Seahawks practices last summer before the Huskies season began. Watching Seattle's longer linebackers and bigger defensive backs made finding some similar bodies for the Huskies a priority.
Cornerbacks Patrick Enewally (6-1), Jermaine Kelly (6-2) and Kevin King (6-2) all fit the mold Sarkisian wanted. Among the linebackers, Sarkisian said 6-1, 210-pound Keishawn Bierria might be the most talented even if he's the smallest of the four signed.
"What they have on that defense is length and that ability to run and cover ground and that is something we have been aspiring to and I think we have addressed a lot of that," Sarkisian said. "It's one thing to want it, it's another thing of what are you doing about it to try and get there and I think we've done that."
Sarkisian was also pleased with what Washington got on the offensive line, highlighted by Dane Crane, who projects as a center in college. He's equally hopeful that the four defensive line signings can help the Huskies' pass rush. That group was led by defensive end Joe Mathis, a second-team all-state selection in California who capped his year playing in the U.S. Army all-American Bowl.
Washington made a late run at athletic twins Tyree and Tyrell Robinson from San Diego, who ended up signing with Oregon. They also lost out on defensive end Daeshon Hall out of Lancaster, Texas. Hall had given a verbal commitment to Washington, but ended up signing with Texas A&M on Wednesday.
Those decisions made the Huskies' national ranking slip, depending on the organization. Scout.com had the Huskies No. 11 in the country entering the day but dropped them to 13th. Rivals.com had Washington 18th and ESPN.com ranked them 19th. Sarkisian said a handful of players in this class will likely play as freshmen, but the depth is in place where the Huskies can redshirt where needed.
"There are not going to be too many of these guys that are going to have to come in and play like in the past," Sarkisian said. "We're at a point now where redshirting guys is becoming a luxury for us, that we can reap the benefits of their development in the end. I think we'll be able to do that more times than not with the guys in this class."