Washington football coach Chris Petersen applauds on the sideline during the Huskies’ Fiesta Bowl loss to Penn State on Dec. 30, 2017 in Glendale, Ariz. Petersen and the Huskies have brought in a banner recruiting class for next season. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Washington football coach Chris Petersen applauds on the sideline during the Huskies’ Fiesta Bowl loss to Penn State on Dec. 30, 2017 in Glendale, Ariz. Petersen and the Huskies have brought in a banner recruiting class for next season. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

UW football battling nation’s elite in recruiting — and winning

And then there was one … more four-star prospect. Or it could be two by the end of National Signing Day.

Tuli Letuligasenoa, a four-star defensive tackle, became the latest to bolster Washington’s 2018 recruiting class. The Huskies flipped the USC commit Monday evening, days after he took an official visit to campus. It’s possible Letuligasenoa might be the final piece in the 21-member class. But there’s also a chance the Huskies could make one last addition Wednesday with four-star defensive end Jeremiah Martin.

At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Martin is the composite No. 15 weakside defensive end in the nation. He’s uncommitted but will make a decision on Signing Day.

Martin’s massive frame, his 89 tackles and 30.5 sacks during his senior season, make him a standout.

It’s why UW wants him. So does everybody else.

“For a long time, Texas A&M was the school to beat. If I had to say right now, I still think A&M is the school to beat,” said Brandon Huffman, the national recruiting editor for 247 Sports. “I know Washington made an impression. They had the last visit for him and that’s crucial.

“They offered so late, they’re almost playing catch-up.”

Huffman said Martin, who played at Cajon High School in San Bernardino, California, has made it known he wants out of the Golden State.

Texas A&M made an early impression on Martin. It’s the school that’s produced a No. 1 pick in Myles Garrett and Von Miller, one of the NFL’s premier players.

Miller, during the Denver Broncos’ bye week, returned to College Station for a weekend. It gave Martin a chance to meet and speak with one of his idols, Huffman said.

There’s another reason why the Aggies are appealing. His name is Jimbo Fisher.

Fisher, who came to A&M after eight seasons at Florida State, is a national champion coach who can develop talent.

A former Nick Saban assistant, he has eight former defensive linemen who are currently in the NFL. That number will rise to 10 after the upcoming NFL Draft.

Texas A&M also added coach Mike Elko, who between his time at Notre Dame and Wake Forest, established himself as one of most well-respected defensive coordinators in college football.

“He also took a visit to Arizona because he likes (former Texas A&M coach Kevin) Sumlin,” Huffman said. “But he said even when Sumlin left, he still liked A&M.”

Should Martin go with the Aggies, it wouldn’t be the most crippling blow in the world.

Yet if Martin does come to Montlake, the move would be the final masterstroke in what is UW’s best class in the modern recruiting era.

Huskies coach Chris Petersen staff benefited from the new early signing period in December. They signed all 19 of their commits with little drama.

Those moves set the Huskies up for what would be a low-risk, high-reward January. It’s another reason why the Huskies enter Signing Day with the No. 1 class in the Pac-12 that’s also seventh nationally, according to 247.

Four-star defensive back Julius Irvin of Servite (Anaheim, California) was the first piece to fall in line. Days later, he was joined by Letuligasenoa.

Letuligasenoa committed to the Trojans last spring but didn’t ink with them during the early signing period.

Huffman said Letuligasenoa’s feelings for the Huskies grew stronger during the Polynesian Bowl last month when he got a chance to connect with six of UW’s signees.

“(Washington) was on his Top 2 or 3 when he committed back in April,” Huffman said. “It was down to USC, UCLA and Washington … He really connected with (Huskies defensive line coach) Ikaika Malloe and felt like it was a good fit.”

Adding Irvin and Letuligasenoa does more than give UW depth.

It also sends a message to programs recruiting against Petersen and his staff.

Take Irvin and Letuligasenoa. Those two along with four-star receiver Marquis Spiker are all California kids who were coveted by USC.

They chose UW.

Irvin and composite four-star linebacker Brandon Kaho were being heavily pursued by Alabama.

They also chose UW.

“They’re not stealing players from Central Washington, Boise State or Fresno State. They’re stealing from the Pac-12 champs and Alabama,” Huffman said. “Those are the kinds of schools you need to recruit against and win battles against to be a Top 10 program.


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