Chris Petersen put a lot of players in the NFL when he was at Boise State. The buzz from the national media on Boise State was hardly ever on signing day. It was on NFL Draft day when talents like Doug Martin, Ryan Clady and Kyle Wilson went from three-star high school prospects to first round picks in the draft.
So that was the question we all had about Chris Petersen on his move to Washington. Would he be able to make signing day as aesthetically pleasing as Steve Sarkisian and Tosh Lupoi made it the last two years?
It doesn’t get as aesthetically pleasing as Washington’s top two prospects staying home to play for the University of Washington.
Before we get to Baker, let’s talk about Kaleb McGary. McGary comes from the birthplace of this blog, where Casey McClain first graced this planet with his presence. Fife, Washington, also referred to as god’s country.
McGary could have gone anywhere he wanted as an offensive tackle prospect, and was recruited heavily to Wisconsin for that purpose. If you want to be an NFL left tackle and make lots of money doing so, Wisconsin is a good place to do that. Ask Joe Thomas.
McGary also took note that two of the best left tackles in the NFL played at Boise State. Who was their coach again? Oh yeah, Chris Petersen. Curiously enough, McGary might try his hand at defensive line instead. Wherever he ends up playing, he is 6-foot-8, 280 pounds of freaking animal.
I talked to Dirk Knudsen of NorthWestPrepreport.com about a number of prospects in the northwest. Both of these kids came up. For McGary, one of the most important things to him, Knudsen said, was the ability to win. He didn’t do that very much at Fife. The country boy really loved Oregon State and Mike Riley (one of the most under-rated talent developers in the country), but just couldn’t pull the trigger on the Beavs.
That’s where Chris Petersen did a great job selling Washington. Not only does Petersen use his history of putting even two and three stars in the league, Petersen can now sell a top 25 Pac-12 program that is looking at a double-digit win season right out of the gate. (Just look at the schedule, Chris Petersen could trip and fall into a 4-0 start).
But Washington assistant coaches made Budda Baker “#TheKey”
The somewhat publicized issue and the one I’ve heard personally from more than one person is Baker’s mother, who is the main reason he chose to stay home. I don’t know if he would have signed with Washington if it weren’t for this situation, but based on some of his conversations he’s had with the media since signing, Petersen did a great job of selling the program independent of this. UCLA still would have made a lot of sense with Jim Mora’s northwest ties and of course, his best friend Myles Jack there. Though, surely, the thing we should all be happiest about if that Baker has found a comfortable situation for himself and his family situation.
For Petersen, getting the top recruit in the state for the first time since 2011 to join an already good, and fast, Washington defense was the key for Petersen to get his next-level Washington project off to the right start. Critics wanted to know if Petersen could get blue chip recruits to Washington, and he is answering the critics.
I was one fan who was concerned that Washington was competing with Boise State and Oregon State more than it was competing with Oregon and USC. Of course, that is just part of the game when a coach moves in December and has less than two months to evaluate an entire recruiting class. Getting these two prospects makes this class an immense success no matter how many three-stars fill out the rest of it. Petersen got a class full of “Our kind of guys” and a class with two blue chips.
Next year we hope that the recruiting clashes are more with USC, Oregon and UCLA than they are with Oregon State and Boise State and today proved he will be able to do that.
The first day of Chris Petersen taking his career, and this program, to the next level is tomorrow. And Budda Baker might be the best pure athlete that Petersen has ever secured on National Letter of Intent day.