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Originally published January 31, 2012 at 8:20 PM | Page modified February 1, 2012 at 10:30 AM

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Late drama pumps up Huskies' recruiting class

Safety Shaq Thompson and wide receiver Jordan Payton spurn California to come to Washington as UW lands late windfall. Could more drama come Wednesday?

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A year ago, after the Washington Huskies had completed most of the heavy lifting in their recruiting early, coach Steve Sarkisian said it was fine with him to largely be a spectator on Signing Day.

"I don't need any more drama in my life," he said.

This year, though, the Huskies have found themselves right in the middle of the circus as the hours ticked down to Wednesday. Football recruits can send in their letters of intent at 7 a.m.

Among those expected to sign are four players who committed Monday night or Tuesday as the Huskies began pulling off a late rally that recruiting analysts say will save a class that had bordered on disappointing.

The quartet includes safety Shaq Thompson of Grant High School in Sacramento, who committed late Monday night. Receivers Jordan Payton of Oaks Christian in Westlake Village, Calif., and Jaydon Mickens of Dorsey High in Los Angeles, and guard Shane Brostek of Hawaii Prep in Kamuela, Hawaii, all committed Tuesday.

Thompson is regarded as the top safety prospect in the nation by several recruiting sites, while Payton and Mickens are four-star receivers who were committed to USC. Brostek is the son of former UW center Bern Brostek and is regarded as a key recruit to beef up the offensive line, particularly after in-state products Josh Garnett and Zach Banner went elsewhere.

The loss of Garnett, Banner and a few other in-state players had UW's class rated in the mid-40s by some recruiting sites heading into Monday afternoon.

But Washington was ranked in the mid-20s less than 24 hours later, and then 19th by Scout.com, keyed by the commitments of Thompson and Payton, each of whom previously committed to California. They reconsidered after Cal assistant coaches Tosh Lupoi and Eric Kiesau were hired by Washington.

Lupoi and Kiesau, as well as defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox (who worked at Cal from 2003 to 2005 and helped recruit Thompson's older brother, Syd'Quan, to Berkeley), are credited for UW's late surge.

"Getting Shaq alone justifies the Lupoi hire for this class," said Brandon Huffman, Scout.com and Fox Sports national recruiting analyst. "And then you add (others). They'll still wish they pulled in one of those two in-state linemen. But Shaq kind of supersedes everything else, and that wouldn't have happened if it weren't for Lupoi."

Getting some marquee out-of-state recruits, Huffman said, "will salvage the class. You can't ignore the fact that they completely blew it in-state this year. But one of the big reasons they brought Lupoi on staff was they wanted to have a bigger presence than they had in California.

"Getting Shaq isn't just a big commitment for Washington, but it strikes a blow to Oregon and Cal. Both thought they had a chance to get him."

The message, added Huffman, is clear. "Washington is going to be in it for the big boys," he said. "That's as big of a commitment as there is to get."

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Thompson had also seriously considered Oregon and UCLA before deciding on UW, announcing it on his Twitter page Monday night. He played quarterback, running back and also punted at Grant, the same school attended by UW freshman James Sample, a good friend of Thompson's who helped lure him to Washington.

Thompson should be "a real special" defensive back, Grant coach Mike Alberghini said.

Huffman said the Monday and Tuesday additions assure that UW will have "a top-20 class." He called the wide receivers "excellent" and said the Huskies have "the best quarterback 1-2 punch in the country by a lot," with quarterbacks Jeff Lindquist of Mercer Island and Cyler Miles of Denver.

Tuesday's verbal commitments gave Washington 22 that are considered solid.

The Huskies hope to add to that group Wednesday with at least three players reported to be considering them and announcing on TV. Cornerback Brandon Beaver of Dominguez High in Compton, Calif. is also considering Cal and Utah, cornerback Randall Goforth of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly is also looking at UCLA and Arizona State, defensive end Dylan Cozens of Scottsdale, Ariz., also is weighing Arizona and Boise State.

Just more potential drama in an dramatic year for the Huskies.

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

Pac-12 watch
Recruiting rankings from Rivals.com and Scout.com heading into Wednesday's Signing Day (top 50 listed):
Rivals Scout
11. USC 11. UCLA
13. UCLA 13. Oregon
16. Stanford 19. Washington
17. Oregon 20. Stanford
21. Washington 26. USC
27. California 27. Colorado
28. Utah 37. Oregon St.
30. Oregon St. 39. Utah
33. Colorado 42. California
41. Arizona St. 48. Arizona St.
44. Arizona

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