Originally written February 08, 2013 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
Top 20 NCAA ranking National Signing day was good to UW this year. Without further ado, let’s break down five of Washington’s best recruits. Cameron Van Winkle Cameron Van Winkle is a kicker for Mount Si High school in Snowqualmie, Washington. Yes, that’s right, I’m labeling a kicker one of our top signing day snags. But Van Winkle is no ordinary kicker. Cameron Van Winkle (Photo: google.com) In addition to being one of the best kickers in Washington state football history, Van Winkle is ranked by ESPN as a three star prospect and the sixth best kicker in the country.He has a booming leg, flawless technique, and can crush kickoffs, punts, extra points; anything. You can’t win football games without at least a decent special teams unit, and with Travis Coons questionable at times this year, Van Winkle will enroll in the spring and is on track to compete for the next starting spot. He could be the next Erik Folk . Darrell Daniels I’ll talk more about this in a post to come, but one of Washington’s biggest weaknesses this season was a lack of targets at wide receiver after Kasen Williams. Daniels, Damore’ea Stringfellow (who will get a separate post in a few days), and John Ross were Washington’s top three receiving targets. And all three are coming to Montlake next fall. Steve Sarkisian was quoted as saying “You can argue it’s probably the best core of wide receivers of any class in the country.” Daniels is a monster. 6’4” and 220 pounds, hailing from Freedom High School in Oakley, California, Daniels has great hands and the size-speed combination that makes him almost impossible to guard or bring down. Daniels is a four star prospect. My guess is, like Stringfellow, he’ll be too good to redshirt. Dane Crane A center may not seem like a very sexy prospect, especially one who’s as low as a three star recruit, depending on which recruiting service you ask. But there’s a lot of reasons to be stoked about Dane Crane. The fourth-ranked center in the country according to ESPN.com, his less-critical position led to him being ranked lower than left tackles, quarterbacks, and defensive ends. But Washington just lost the immovable Drew Schaefer to graduation, and need a new center. Crane is rock-solid at 6’3” and 305 pounds, a strong and tough blocker. He could step in and play big time minutes and possibly even start, as a true freshman. Elijah Qualls Darrell Daniels (Photo: thepress.net) Moving onto the defensive side of the ball, it’s time to discuss the Huskies top recruit on D. The 6’1” 282 pound defensive tackle Elijah Qualls is that guy. Qualls is a freak athlete who doubled as his high school’s starting running back. He also lined up at defensive end occasionally in high school. Qualls was a four star prospect and the 12th best overall player in California. Although a bit on the short side for a defensive tackle, his speed and disruptiveness should wreak havoc in Pac-12 backfields. Because of Washington’s inexperience and struggles on the defensive line, I wouldn’t be surpassed to see Qualls playing major minutes as a freshman. Sean Constantine Even though Constantine, an inside linebacker for Bellevue High School in Bellevue, Washington, played against my alma mater of Mercer Island High School, I have to give him some love. Constantine passes the size test at 6’3” and 225 pounds. He has all the physical tools to eventually be one of the best linebackers in the Pac-12, and is already a smart football player who reads plays quickly and gets to the ball fast. Constantine had offers from a slew of Pac-12 programs, but signed with his hometown Huskies. The local product will most likely redshirt a year, but with his potential and feel for the game, don’t count him out of 2013. Those are just a few highlights from a deep Washington class that oozes size and athleticism. The offseason just got a whole lot more exciting. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE HUSKIES CLUBHOUSE PAGE AT NWSPORTSBEAT!
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