Chris Petersen’s first signing day at Washington: Smooth, calculated, impressive


This was me (center) and our Husky athletics communications team just past 6 this morning inside the football operations center in Husky Stadium.

I was bracing for what UW signing days have been recently. Unpredictable signings and defections. Flips and re-flips. A wild ride.

Instead I was soothed by the reality that is Chris Petersen and his new Huskies staff.

Petersen, recruiting coordinator Keith Bhonapha and Washington’s weeks-old football staff received 24 national letters of intent — including headliners Budda Baker, the coveted safety and consensus top player in the state from the Bellevue High School national power, plus 6-7, 285-pound defensive lineman Kaleb McGary of Fife, the No. 2-rated player in Washington.

UW signed two more four-star recruits: K.J. Carta-Samuels, from Bellarmine Prep in the Bay Area and this class’ only quarterback; and Naijiel Hale, a speedy cornerback from St. John Bosco High south of Los Angeles — the same high school that Keith Price attended.

Fifteen of the two dozen to sign were from California, six were from Washington; one each came from Idaho and Montana and British Columbia. The Montanan is Will Dissly, a 6-4 defensive lineman from Bozeman. He’s just the second player from Montana to ever get Parade All-America honorable mention or above recognition from that magazine.

Dissly is one of a handful of signees who began developing a relationship with Petersen and his staff when they were at Boise State — until Dec. 9.

Two traits struck me the most with this first signing day with Petersen and his new staff:

  • 11 of the 24 players signed are offensive and defensive linemen. Carta-Samuels is the only quarterback. Jomon Dotson of American Canyon High School in the Bay Area is the only running back. After years of Steve Sarkisian’s regime loading up on skill position players, Petersen and his new staff recognize that cupboard is relatively full. So they are setting out to build this new era of Husky football from the trenches out. That is going to bring vital depth to the most important areas of any game, the line of scrimmage.
  • This day has been so smooth. In preparation for our Signing Day Central coverage on I get a list of players likely to sign with UW. Today I’ve been checking each player off as he’s signed, right down the quite-refined list, as if simply shopping for my groceries at Safeway. Petersen and his staff has been remarkably systematic and precise in their targeting. They expect a couple more signees — and then that’s it. No flipping. No surprises. No desperation. No wild emotion swings. As one staffer said to me today: “Just another day of work.” That’s refreshing — and can only help take the Huskies to the next, championship-winning level. And it’s remarkable, considering this staff had but a few weeks of open recruiting time for Washington before today.

Here is the complete list of newest Huskies.

And here is my latest Unleashed column, the only on-the-scene description of this first signing day of this new era of Husky football.