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Matt Calkins: Chris Petersen’s latest and greatest class has the Huskies primed to thrive

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 21, 2017, 4:57 p.m.

Washington football coach Chris Petersen’s 2018 recruiting class is the best in the Pac-12, according to 247sports. (VASHA HUNT / Associated Press)
Washington football coach Chris Petersen’s 2018 recruiting class is the best in the Pac-12, according to 247sports. (VASHA HUNT / Associated Press)

SEATTLE – Outside of 8 p.m. kickoffs, there may be nothing Chris Petersen despises more than rankings. He doesn’t want to talk about them. He doesn’t want to think about them. He’d eradicate the word from the English language if possible.

So when asked about the Huskies’ recruiting class ranking – 11th in the country, according to 247sports – it wasn’t a surprise that Petersen downplayed the number. He truly doesn’t care.

But you should.

If you’re a Washington football fan, you should be swimming in champagne right now. You should have blisters from high-fiving and a sore throat from screaming.

Pairing that level of talent with Petersen is like pairing De Niro with Scorsese. It’s not just gonna be good – it’s going to be spectacular.

Do you know what the Huskies’ recruiting classes were ranked in 2014, ’15 and ’16? That would be 35th, 23rd and 29th, respectively. Those numbers don’t stand out on paper but the product sure popped between the lines, as UW made the College Football Playoff last season and is headed to the Fiesta Bowl next week.

Do you know what Petersen’s best recruiting class was at Boise State? Actually, he never had one that cracked the top 50. He did, however, have four teams that finished in the AP top 10 – including two undefeated squads that landed in the top 5.

For nearly a decade, Petersen would make Porsches out of parts he took from the junkyard. Now, he’s working with some of the finest equipment in the country.

So Huskies fans should be stoked. Everyone else should be scared.

With 18 players signing Wednesday, Washington is thought to have the most talented recruiting class in the Pac-12. According to 247sports, Oregon is next (No. 13 in the country), followed by USC (24) and UCLA (32).

Clearly, recruits have been impressed by Washington’s recent success. They see a team that’s been at the top of the conference on both sides of the ball.

And in them, Petersen not only sees athletes teeming with potential – but ideal fits for his program.

There’s a reason big recruiting days are generally drama-free for the Huskies. This isn’t a coaching staff that takes in prima donnas or head cases. OKG – short for “our kind of guy” has been Petersen’s recruiting mantra since he arrived on Montlake, and the payoff has been the playoffs and more.

But over time, the OKGs have gotten bigger, faster and stronger. Recruiting sites are putting an extra star or two next to their names. Jacob Sirmon, Ale Kaho, Colson Yankoff and Marques Spiker are each among the top 100 recruits in the country, and who knows who else may come in.

Of course, Petersen asserts that he gives no damns about what recruiting sites think of his incoming freshmen. Reminded that Boise had the 75th-ranked recruiting class three years before going undefeated, he remarked, “Loved it. I hope this one’s 85th.”

Sorry, coach. Not even close. In fact, if Archbishop Murphy cornerback Kyler Gordon – the top recruit in Washington – picks UW over Notre Dame, the Huskies’ recruiting ranking will only surge.

Petersen said his pitch to recruits hasn’t changed despite the Huskies’ recent accomplishments. In fact, most of the time he doesn’t even talk about football.

Makes sense if you think about it. The football has been speaking for itself throughout his career.

I’ve said before that, with Petersen, the way to gauge his teams’ true recruiting rankings are to take whatever number the websites give them and divide it by four. By that math, this year’s class would be a top-three haul. And there’s little reason not to trust that formula.

Petersen’s reputation was made on molding decent into good and good into great.

Now that he has great at his disposal, he could make Huskies history.

It’s not absurd for fans to think this team could ascend to No. 1 in the country one day. That’s a ranking even Petersen would like.


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