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Washington Huskies close National Signing Day on a disappointing note, still finish with top-tier class

UPDATED: Wed., Feb. 7, 2018, 5:53 p.m.

Washington coach Chris Petersen has recruited a class that may be his best. (David Zalubowski / AP)
Washington coach Chris Petersen has recruited a class that may be his best. (David Zalubowski / AP)

During a recruiting cycle in which just about everything went according to plan – in which everything came together as well, if not better, than any other recruiting class in program history – the Washington Huskies nonetheless wrapped up National Signing Day with a bit of a sour taste Wednesday.

Someone – gasp! – said no the Huskies.

Jeremiah Martin, a four-star defensive end from San Bernardino, California, committed to Texas A&M over Washington during a signing ceremony Wednesday morning. He was the last recruit the Huskies had been waiting on, and he would have filled an important role in what might be the only soft spot in this UW recruiting class.

No matter. Even without Martin, this UW class is being celebrated as the most touted in program history, and the best in Chris Petersen’s head coaching career.

And it might not be a stretch to suggest that this is a class – with its high-end talent, its size, its speed and its depth – that could help the program turn the corner from perennial Pac-12 contender to perennial national-title contender.

“If there is a class that’s going to win (Petersen) a national championship, I think this is the class for the University of Washington to do so,” Pac-12 Networks analyst Yogi Roth said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Huskies’ class was ranked No. 9 nationally by, making it the highest ranked of any UW has had in the modern era of recruiting (dating back to 2000). That ranking doesn’t account for the addition of Jacob Eason, the former five-star quarterback from Lake Stevens, Washington, whose transfer from Georgia was announced by UW on Tuesday.

Petersen, of course, has long had a distaste for recruiting rankings and the hype that comes with him.

“I kind of chuckle. At the end of the day, this has turned into another game,” Petersen said Wednesday afternoon in an interview with KJR’s Dave Mahler. “These are so subjective rankings. … I’ve seen some of these rankings and I’m like this is so – not what I think, I’ll tell you that. So that’s fine. But I just go back to, like, follow the track record we’ve had. We’re going to get good kids for us. That’s just what we do.”

Not counting Eason, the Huskies signed 21 recruits in all in this class, 19 during the December early signing period.

The final two signatures arrived just after 7 a.m. Wednesday, when four-star defensive back Julius Irvin (Servite High, Anaheim, California) and four-star defensive tackle Tuli Letuligasenoa (De La Salle High, Concord, California) submitted their letters of intent.

Letuligasenoa, listed by UW at 6-foot-1 and 338 pounds, had been committed to USC since last spring but flipped his commitment on Monday night – one of the Huskies’ three key recruiting victories over the Trojans (Irvin and five-star linebacker Ale Kaho being the others).

“These guys that we have here, we really think they fit us,” Petersen told KJR. “We’re not always 100 percent right. This recruiting is an art and not a science. But I know our coaches here have done a tremendous amount of work, just researching and digging and then fighting for the guys we really wanted.”

Washington had entered signing day with a class ranked No. 1 in the Pac-12, although another surging finish from USC vaulted the Trojans into the top five of 247Sports’ national rankings.

As for Eason, he is scheduled to enroll at UW for spring classes and participate in spring practices starting March 26. Eason, 6-5 and 235 pounds, will have to redshirt the 2018 under NCAA rules. He joins a crowded quarterback room featuring senior starter Jake Browning, plus youngsters Daniel Bridge-Gadd, Jake Haener, Jacob Sirmon and Coeur d’Alene’s Colson Yankoff.

Georgia the top dogs

Georgia, which let a 13-0 halftime advantage get away in a national championship game loss to Alabama, finished their 2018 recruiting class with a flourish and laid claim to the No. 1 ranking on national signing day.

Georgia loaded up in the new early signing period and came into Wednesday’s start of the traditional signing period with the top-rated class, according to 247 Sports’ composite rankings. Coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs put the finishing touches on the recruiting championship by flipping a pair of four-star linebackers, one who had been committed to Michigan (Otis Reese) and another who had been committed to Alabama (Quay Walker).

National champion Alabama had finished on top of the recruiting rankings each of the last seven years, but the Tide finished outside the top three this year.

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