Chris Petersen's first step for success at Washington is taken on the recruiting, where the new Huskies head coach had a late start behind his Pac-12 counterparts. A strong push to the finish line—next week's national signing day—can bridge the gap, and there are a few benchmarks that can help Petersen to that end.
Petersen and his staff made up significant ground in the past week, adding eight new verbal commitments, almost half of the 17-player 2014 recruiting class. Headlining that group is quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels, the lone 4-star prospect in the crop thus far.
Carta-Samuels did his part to help Washington's final push via Twitter, shouting out a player whose commitment is a priority on Petersen's signing day to-do list.
1. Sign Budda Baker
When 4-star athlete Budda Baker retracted his commitment to Oregon earlier this month, Petersen was presented with a golden opportunity. The Huskies' bitter rivalry with Oregon has been one-sided of late—so much so, Petersen was asked specifically about it in his introductory press conference in December.
Signing Baker doesn't erase the Ducks' decade-long dominance of the rivalry, but it does score Petersen one initial victory. More importantly, it sets an important tone in Washington's recruiting presence.
Baker is a local product, starring at nearby Bellevue (Wash.)—the same high school that produced 2013 Pac-12 Defensive and Offensive Freshman of the Year Myles Jack.
Like Jack, Baker is a dynamic playmaker on both sides of the ball. He could fill an immediate need on the Huskies roster defensively, with graduation hitting the secondary hard.
And like Jack, Baker could end up at UCLA. The Bruins hosted him for an official visit on Jan. 24. Keeping the local star home is about more than just adding another 4-star recruit to the mix for Petersen; Baker's national letter of intent is also an opportunity to make a splash within the program's geographic footprint.
2. Plant a Flag in the Pacific Northwest
Establishing a prominent recruiting presence in a program's home state or region is important for any head coach, but particularly in an area where talent comes at a higher premium.
Washington is in competition for nearby talent with Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State, all of which reached bowl games in 2013. Boise State is also in that mix, thanks to Petersen's time as head coach there.
That's five programs coming off winning seasons, all vying for recruits in the Pacific Northwest, an area that a ModeAnalytics.com breakdown shows has a lower concentration of prospects than the home talent pools of their Pac-12 counterparts in California.
Petersen has a respectable class of verbal commitments from Seattle area and Idaho-based recruits, but there are more still to be pursued in this final week.
3. Establish Skill Position Depth
Petersen has heavily stocked his first Washington recruiting class with bulk on the offensive and defensive lines and plenty of new talent in the secondary. Skill positions are less represented.
Thus far, he has commitments from Carta-Samuels, running back Jomon Dotson, wide receiver Dante Pettis and athlete Sidney Jones. Adding wide receivers Brayden Lenius and Don'Yeh Patterson, both of whom pay Washington a visit this weekend, would bolster the ranks.
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. Recruiting information obtained via 247Sports.com.