By TJ Cotterill The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Some faxes came in late, one letter of intent was sent upside down, and another didn’t have the correct date.
The fax snafus were little, though, compared to the stress Chris Petersen and his staff faced in having less than two months from when he accepted the University of Washington football job until signing day.
“There was some tough sledding in those two months,” Petersen said.
But in them, Petersen and his staff were able to secure a first recruiting class that appears to address needs, add talent and — what the UW had been so criticized for under Steve Sarkisian — corral the state’s top players to Montlake.
Petersen’s inaugural recruiting class features six of the state’s top players, including Bellevue’s Budda Baker and Fife’s Kaleb McGary.
They were two of four four-star recruits, ranked by Scout.com, the UW signed during national signing day on Wednesday.
Petersen had previously signed four four-star recruits combined in his eight seasons at Boise State. Sarkisian had zero four-star recruits his first UW recruiting class in 2009.
“Were we able to get some guys that we probably wouldn’t have been able to get a year ago (at Boise State)? Absolutely, no question,” Petersen said. “I think there was some really good intensity, and, boy, if we can keep this kind of recruiting intensity up all year long to this place, then I’m really excited about the future.”
Baker announced live on KING-5 television Tuesday he would attend UW after decommitting from Oregon in mid-January. He stood by his word and sent his signed letter of intent from Bellevue High School early Wednesday.
“I was happy because I talked with (Petersen) at Boise State and then I saw he got the job at Washington,” Baker said, minutes before sending his fax Wednesday. “It was a matter of me going to meet with him and talk to him and talk about the plan that he has. I was cool with it.
“The numbers don’t lie, and they did a great job at Boise State. So I feel like we can take the next step at Washington.”
Baker said he will play free safety, but Petersen talked about including him in offensive packages and the return game eventually, as well.
“The second we got here, he’s all we heard about,” Petersen said. “We talk about those OKGs (Our Kind of Guys) — I think he is one of them.
“We kind of told him, ‘We don’t want to make you a jack of all trades master now. We want you to … get our feet on the ground then we can expand.’ But we need him on defense in the worst way right now.”
McGary was recruited as an offensive lineman. But Petersen said he asked which side of the ball McGary preferred and was told defense.
“I think that’s where he wants to test the water and I think that’s where he fits best,” Petersen said. “He may be that big-time defensive end, he may be an inside guy, he may be an unbelievable offensive tackle. I just know he’s something.”
The UW also secured in-state recruits Drew Sample (Newport of Bellevue), Shane Bowman (Bellevue), Drew Lewis (Eastlake), and signed Tumwater’s Jaimie Bryant, who gray-shirted this year.
The Huskies signed a quarterback in K.J. Carta-Samuels of Bellarmine Prep (Calif.) and added four-star cornerback Naijiel Hale of prestigious St. John Bosco (Calif.). He’s the son of late rapper Nate Dogg.
The UW also snagged the top-ranked Montana recruit — defensive lineman Will Dissly.
But Petersen stressed that much of the UW’s focus will be spent trying to keep in-state talent in the state.
“I think the heart and soul of this thing needs to start right here in this area and this state,” Petersen said. “I think we got off to a good start this year, and I’m hoping that trend continues.”
Doing that should be far easier for this staff with more than only two months to work with.