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UW recruiting nears decision day with one QB solid, one unclear
Quarterbacks Jeff Lindquist and Cyler Miles are the only two players in UW's class ranked above three stars by all the major recruiting sites.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Letter-of-intent day for college football arrives Wednesday, bringing with it an increasing flurry of attention-getting public declarations from players about their futures.
Had Mercer Island's Jeff Lindquist wanted to he could be joining that chorus, acknowledged as the top quarterback prospect in the state of Washington this year, and one of five Seattle Times Blue Chip picks.
Lindquist, though, saw no need to drag things out. Last April, once he decided Washington was where he wanted to go to college, he relayed the message by talking to a few reporters on the phone, and that was that.
And despite all that has happened since then — the commitment of another highly regarded quarterback in Denver's Cyler Miles and the departure of the assistant coach who helped recruit him to UW in Doug Nussmeier — Lindquist has never wavered.
"Obviously there have been some changes and coaches going here and there," he said Sunday. "But through it all UW was still the best place to play football for me. I still love all the coaches and in terms of education I think UW is a great school, and the business school there can put me in great shape after football."
Lindquist, a 6-foot-3, 225-pounder who also had an offer from Stanford, now stands as the earliest commitment to UW from this class (running back Tairen Owens of Pasadena, Calif., who had committed earlier, has since changed his mind and will sign instead with UCLA).
Wednesday, Lindquist will finally get to make it official when he can sign his letter of intent — Mercer Island High plans a signing ceremony at the school in the afternoon.
"It's been a long process and for it to come to an end, I'm pretty pumped about it," he said.
It's the presence of Lindquist and Miles that has helped pump up UW's class in a year when the Huskies have had some unexpected struggles in recruiting. And even Miles suddenly isn't regarded as a completely sure thing, having taken a recent visit to USC, a trip spurred in part by the departure of Nussmeier, who had also helped recruit him to Washington before leaving to become the offensive coordinator at Alabama.
At the moment, Lindquist and Miles are the only two players in UW's class ranked above three stars by all the major recruiting sites, though the Huskies are still in the running for a few other highly touted players, notably Lakes High lineman Zach Banner, who will make a decision Monday, and safety Shaquille Thompson of Grant High in Sacramento. Banner is said to have narrowed his choices to USC, UW and Oklahoma. Thompson, who had been a commit to California, reopened his recruitment after the departure of defensive-line coach Tosh Lupoi from Cal to UW, and was reported to have taken an unofficial visit to Washington this weekend.
If Banner goes elsewhere (many recruiting analysts call USC the favorite), it will leave Lindquist as the only one of the top five recruits in the state to pick UW.
Lindquist, though, said he hasn't been bothered to see some of the state's other top recruits go elsewhere.
"UW has obviously been the place for me the whole time, so I just did what I had to do and obviously those guys had to do something else," he said. "But there are a whole bunch of other in-state guys that are going to be fantastic players (that have committed to UW) — Nathan Dean (offensive lineman from Juanita) and (Auburn offensive lineman) Cory English and (Bellevue offensive lineman) Jake Eldrenkamp and (Bellarmine Prep receiver) Michael Rector. I'm really excited to play with them and I think they are going to be great players, too, so I don't feel like we missed out all that much."
Miles committed shortly after Lindquist, at a time when UW's quarterback situation seemed far more unsettled than it is now. Keith Price set numerous school records in 2011 in his first season as the team's starter and he seems set as the starter for the next two seasons.
Conversely, Nick Montana has since transferred, meaning that Lindquist and Miles will be in position to battle Derrick Brown and Thomas Vincent, who each redshirted as freshmen in 2011, for the backup job to Price next fall.
Lindquist said Montana's departure will throw a little more urgency into his preparation for next season "knowing how close you are to potentially getting on the field."
Lindquist gave that much more validity to the four-star rating earlier this month when he was named by Scout.com as the MVP of the Semper Fidelis Bowl in Phoenix, throwing two touchdown passes as the West won, 17-14.
Miles matched Lindquist a few days later when he was named a co-MVP of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl after throwing for one touchdown and rushing for another. Jake Worthen, the West recruiting analyst for Fox Sports/Scout.com, said Miles compares in style to Price, while Lindquist reminds him of Andrew Luck.
"Cyler gets looked at as an athlete who can't throw and Jeff a pocket guy," Worthen said. "But in reality UW is getting good quarterbacks and both can do each (run and throw) well."
Lindquist knows some wondered what he thought of UW getting another highly ranked quarterback shortly after he committed. But that, too, was never a cause to waver, he said.
"We'll compete," he said. "But we are both here at UW to help the team any way we can."
• UW lost out on defensive end Arik Armstead of Elk Grove, Calif., who announced he will sign with Oregon.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org