Bellevue’s Baker commits to play for Huskies

  • By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, February 4, 2014 7:59pm
  • SportsSports

Chris Petersen has already faced a big challenge as the new University of Washington head football coach, and the 2014 season opener is still seven months away.

Petersen, hired on Dec. 6 to replace Steve Sarkisian, was tasked with salvaging Washington’s current recruiting class and it was no small assignment given that several prospects who had previously committed to the Huskies changed their minds and instead followed Sarkisian to USC.

But with today being national letter-of-intent day, as decreed by the NCAA, Petersen and his staff of assistants have the makings of a respectable recruiting class, and one that could be even better than it appears at first glance.

Washington’s class improved significantly on Tuesday night when 5-foot-10, 177-pound defensive back Budda Baker of Bellevue High School, regarded as the premier prospect in the state, announced he will attend UW. Before Baker committed to the Huskies, Greg Biggins, a national recruiting analyst for FOX Sports/Scout.com, said Baker had been on the fence between Washington and UCLA, but “now it looks like (the Huskies) are probably going to get him.”

Baker joins 6-8, 280-pound offensive/defensive lineman Kaleb McGary of Fife and 5-11, 170-pound cornerback Naijiel Hale of Bellflower, Calif., as premier prospects to announce for the Huskies in recent days.

“In the last week they’ve been on a nice little hot streak,” Biggins said. “They got McGary, they got Hale, and now I think they’re going to land Baker, so they’re actually closing pretty fast. … Getting Baker is huge. He alone almost makes their class.”

Baker took a recruiting trip to UCLA in late January, “and I think he really liked (the Bruins) a lot,” Biggins added. “That’s actually where we had him pegged a week ago. But I think a lot of the family is pulling on him to stay close to home.

“He can come in and play right away. As a safety, a cornerback and returning kicks, he’s really a dynamic guy.”

Sarkisian resigned shortly after last November’s season finale with Washington State, and UW athletic director Scott Woodward hired Petersen a few days later. Though a handful of Washington commits switched to USC in the ensuing weeks, Petersen likewise had several Boise State commits subsequently opt for Washington.

One of them is 6-3, 235-pound defensive end Jaylen Johnson from Corona, Calif., who had offers from several Pacific-12 Conference schools including USC, Oregon and Arizona State. He is, Biggins said, “a big-time guy.”

Other standouts in the class include 6-0, 170-pound wide receiver Dante Pettis from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., “who is probably the biggest sleeper on the West Coast,” while 6-4, 207-pound K.J. Carta-Samuels “is the quarterback they wanted,” Biggins said.

Because of the late start in recruiting for Petersen and his staff, “there’s maybe not a lot of names that wow you,” he went on. “Initially there were probably a lot of Husky fans who were asking, ‘Who are these guys?’ But the guys they’re bringing in are good players, they’re good kids, they work hard … and there are some really high-quality football players in the mix.”

Undoubtedly, the Huskies missed out on a few top players because of the coaching change. Biggins acknowledged as much, but then said, “I want to see what happens when (Petersen) gets a full year under his belt, and when his assistants have a full year to build relationships with those (recruited) players.”

But even if recruiting in the coming years is better, this year’s class is by no means a bust, Biggins pointed out.

“(Washington’s) class actually has some real difference makers,” he said. “And if they can close with Budda (Baker), then I think you’d say this class is successful.”

More in Sports

Everett’s Patrick Bajkov eyes the puck with Tri-City’s Nolan Yaremko (left) closing at Angel of the Winds Arena Friday night in Everett on April 20, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Tips edge Americans to take 1-0 lead in conference finals

Garrett Pilon scores twice as Everett wins 3-2 to hand Tri-City its 1st loss of the postseason.

Many later-round pass-catchers could be options for Seahawks

With all the attention on the Seahawks losses on defense this offseason… Continue reading

Friday’s prep results

Friday’s prep results, with links: BASEBALL Wesco 4A Cascade 11, Mariner 3… Continue reading

Three observations from the Tips’ 3-2 victory in Game 1

The Sutter line has a tough task; Everett needs to stay out of the box; how will fatigue factor?

Snohomish tops E-W in battle of 3A boys soccer contenders

The Panthers score twice off set pieces and beat the Warriors 2-1 to move into 2nd place in Wesco 3A.

Friday’s prep stars of the night

Here are Friday’s prep stars of the night: Iyanla Pennington, P, Jackson… Continue reading

Hannah Ganashamoorthy practices on the hurdles Wednesday afternoon at Monroe High School in Monroe on April 18, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Monroe freshman phenom is a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ athlete

Hannah Ganashamoorthy, 15, is already one of the top-ranked track-and-field athletes in the state.

Petersen’s philosophy guides UW despite success

The Huskies will still recruit players that fit the coach’s framework despite their national stature.

Tips’ hometown hero Wylie surges up NHL prospect rankings

The defenseman was recently No. 71 among North American skaters in the final pre-draft rankings.

Most Read