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Originally published Friday, December 26, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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UW may rethink offers to recruits

Steve Sarkisian's remaking of the Washington football program also apparently includes rethinking some of the scholarship offers made by...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Steve Sarkisian's remaking of the Washington football program also apparently includes rethinking some of the scholarship offers made by the previous coaching staff.

Sumner High offensive lineman Grant Cisneros, who had given a public commitment to the Huskies last month, said he was told last week by new offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik that the new staff is "looking over everybody and starting from the ground up. So he was pretty much telling me that the scholarship I had doesn't count."

Cisneros committed in mid-November during the time after former coach Tyrone Willingham had announced he wouldn't be returning and before Sarkisian was hired.

Cisneros said he was motivated to do so after receiving a letter from UW athletic director Scott Woodward that all offers would be honored.

Woodward and Huskies coaches can't comment on specific recruits, but Woodward said that "the ones that have committed to us are the ones that are coming."

During the interim period, players were asked to give commitments to Woodward.

Cisneros said he never made a commitment to Woodward, only to two assistant coaches from the previous staff, Chris Tormey and Charlie Baggett, though he said it wasn't for lack of effort.

Cisneros said he called to set up a meeting with Woodward but was never able to get one scheduled, and that the former staff also "told me they would set up a date with the athletic director to get it done, but they never did."

The 6-foot-5, 285-pound Cisneros said he wasn't necessarily told that he wouldn't get an offer from Washington now, just that "they told me they don't want to promise me anything." He said he got the impression he would be best off to consider other options.

Woodward said at the time that he sent the letter to recruits in part to ask them to wait until a new coach was hired before making any decisions regarding Washington.

"That was the way I did it as far as when we were in that interim position, and then Coach Sarkisian has taken it over and has discussed it with each kid," Woodward said.

He said what happens from here "is up to [Sarkisian] and the recruits."

Sarkisian said on the day he was hired that offers made by the previous staff weren't guaranteed to be honored by the new staff.

Woodward said he doesn't necessarily view that as pulling offers, but said it is more about the new coach and recruits "having a meeting of the minds" about whether each is still a good fit for the other. Woodward said the ultimate decision on recruits is Sarkisian's.

Commitments are nonbinding until players sign a letter of intent — the LOI period this year begins Feb. 4.

It isn't uncommon for new staffs to rescind offers, or for players to renege on commitments after coaching changes.

Washington is reported to have eight commitments, not including that of Cisneros, with five given before Willingham was fired. Several have said they are rethinking their options in the wake of the coaching change, but indications are that all could still end up at UW.

Tight end Marlion Barnett of Corona, Calif., was the only other player to commit during the "interim" period, but he has said he gave his commitment in person to Woodward.

Cisneros wasn't regarded as one of UW's higher-rated recruits, with Idaho, Eastern Washington and Portland State the other schools known to have shown interest.

Cisneros said he felt "kind of burnt up" about the situation, but his greatest hope now is that he can simply get a scholarship somewhere — he said he has spoken with coaches at Portland State since learning of his probable fate at UW.

"I just want to let every coach know I'm available," he said.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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