Strong Recruiting Class Will Make Washington a Player in the Pac-12 in 2013

Lisa Horne@LisaHornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterJanuary 23, 2013

Don't look now but Washington is returning back to its big boy days.

The Washington Huskies' class of 2013 recruiting team rankings shouldn't shock folks on the West Coast, but for those east of the Big Muddy, say hello to the No. 13 (per Rivals) purple and gold.

Could Washington really be back? 

Last season the Huskies had a brutal five-game stretch (Stanford, at Oregon, USC, at Arizona and Oregon State) that resulted in a 2-3 record. One of the reasons for the conference losses against Oregon and Arizona was poor rush defense from the Huskies. Even in its season opener hosting San Diego State, the defense appeared to be not up to Husky standards despite its 21-12 victory over the Aztecs—it ceded almost 200 yards on the ground alone to San Diego State.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian has praised his defense and to his credit, overall it's very good on paper but against the run it was very inconsistent. Washington's rush defense averaged just under seven yards less than USC's, which was notoriously atrocious at times last season. Washington was blown out by Oregon 52-21 and Arizona 52-17 as well as LSU 41-3. Moreover, the Huskies' defense gave up 299 rushing yards to Oregon, 277 to Arizona and 249 to Cal.

But Sarkisian appears to be addressing the problem with the class of 2013. Of his 21 commits, 12 are defensive prospects. Of the 12 defensive commits, three are tackles and three are defensive ends. 

Defensive tackles: Andrew Basham, Jaimie Bryant and Elijah Qualls. The 4-star Qualls was also offered by USC, UCLA, Nebraska, Miami, Michigan and Arkansas.

Defensive ends: Marcus Farria, Daeshon Hall and Joe Mathis are rated 4-stars by Rivals. Farria was also offered by Arkansas, Tennessee and Notre Dame.

Hall, a Texas native, was offered by LSU, Oklahoma, USC, Texas A&M, Texas and TCU. Mathis was pretty much offered by everyone including Alabama, Florida, Kansas State, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee, USC and UCLA.

Linebackers: Sean Constantine and Azeem Victor. 

This unit looks like one that could be improved greatly, especially in stopping the run. Constantine is rated as a 4-star and received a lot of offers but Victor, a California native who originally committed to San Diego State, is a 3-star linebacker whose only offer from the Pac-12 came via Washington.  

Defensive backs: Jermaine Kelly, Kevin King, Connor O'Brien and Trevor Walker.

Kelly received offers from Minnesota, Oregon and UCLA. King received offers from Cal, West Virginia and Utah. O'Brien received offers from Oregon, Oregon State and Duke. Walker received offers from Arkansas, Ole Miss, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

The Washington commits' list of offers—and they're just a sampling of each commit's full offer list—indicates a couple of positive things for Husky fans to absorb. For one, their commits are receiving a lot of national attention from very highly respected football programs. 

Second, Washington is making inroads in the great state of Texas. The biggest Texas catch is Daeshon Hall, out of Lancaster. Hall was offered by five Texas schools, including Texas, and for Tosh Lupoi to reel in this kid is fairly impressive. 

Finally, Washington is on solid ground in California—12 of Washington's commits are from the Golden State including Joe Mathis. This kid had offers from the SEC big boys, ACC big boys and the Big 12 big boys. And from USC, which is practically in his backyard.

It's official: Washington is playing with the big boys.

Now we need to see those results on the 2013 scoreboard.