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Originally published April 8, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 8, 2009 at 1:35 PM

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Huskies' practices win over 2 more recruits

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian got commitments from two other high-profile in-state football recruits Tuesday — Jamaal Kearse and Ben Riva — giving the Huskies seven for the Class of 2010.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Steve Sarkisian will have to wait until September to win any games.

But the first-year Washington football coach is already winning some significant battles in local living rooms, getting commitments from two noted in-state recruits in the last two days — Lakes High receiver Jamaal Kearse and O'Dea offensive lineman Ben Riva.

The two commitments give Washington seven for its Class of 2010, more than any other Pac-10 school. Stanford is next with five, according to Scout.com. Six are from the state of Washington, already triple the amount UW had in its entire Class of 2009.

"It's a phenomenal start," said Chris Fetters, the Northwest recruiting analyst for Scout.com.

The commitment of Kearse, which came Tuesday afternoon, gives UW commitments from three of the four top-rated players in the state, according to Scout. The others are defensive tackle Sione Potoae of Lakes (No. 2) and safety Chris Young (No. 4) of Auburn. Kearse is No. 3. No. 1 is Skyline quarterback Jake Heaps, who is also a target of the Huskies.

Kearse and Heaps each attended UW's practice Saturday, which attracted an estimated 1,500 spectators under Sarkisian's new open-practice philosophy.

There, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Kearse saw his brother, Jermaine, catch a touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Locker on the last play. The play set off a celebration among the offensive players because it "won" the practice for that group.

Kearse said seeing the practice influenced his decision.

"That played a lot into it," said Kearse, who also had offers from Washington State and Vanderbilt. "I loved the practice, the intensity in the practice. They have time to play around but when they got the scrimmage going it was all serious and everybody was competitive."

Kearse said playing alongside his brother played only a small part of his decision.

The 6-6, 285-pound Riva also committed after taking in a Washington practice, which Fetters thinks is no coincidence.

"The open practices has got to be helping," Fetters said. "They are seeing the excitement, the enthusiasm, the energy and everything else that is going on in practice and seeing the players having fun and when they talk to the [current] players they are telling them that it's fun again, so I think they see that."

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Lakes coach Dave Miller said Kearse, who is rated as a four-star recruit by Scout.com and No. 27 in the nation at his position, has NFL potential.

"Jermaine is a little more polished at this point but Jamaal probably has a little more physicality," Miller said. "He's very athletic and has NFL potential, no question, like Jermaine does."

Kearse is the third Lakes High player to commit, joining Potoae and linebacker Darius Waters. The commitments are nonbinding until players sign letters-of-intent, which they can't do until February.

"It's pretty amazing," Miller said of having three players already committed to UW. "But I think Jamaal saw the work ethic at practice going on, similar to what we do at practice as far as getting better every day with intensity, and he knows that's what is needed to get success whether it's next year or the year after and once he saw that at practice, he knew the program was going in the right direction and he was excited about that."

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

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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