For weeks, coaches on the Washington State football staff had reportedly grown skeptical about the hot-and-cold oral commitment of Gonzaga Prep’s Bishop Sankey.
Sankey is the best running back in the state of Washington, and was the Cougars’ first commit for 2011 a year ago.
But on Tuesday night, when UW coach Steve Sarkisian made an in-house visit in Spokane, Sankey changed his mind and gave the Huskies an oral commitment.
Is this a huge get for the UW? It is a crippling blow for the Cougars?
Based on the ratings of the popular recruiting services, Sankey is quite the catch. He was named the No. 4 recruit in the state of Washington (the UW has now five of the top six), and is a top 25 running back nationally.
Despite being 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, he is a workhorse – capable of toting the ball 30-35 times a game, even at the collegiate level.
What kind of impact will he have in the Pacific-10 Conference?
Longtime followers of Spokane football estimate Sankey will be a solid – not great – player in college. He has jiggle, but his record-breaking numbers in the Greater Spokane League were as much about the vulnerable back end of defenses in the league as it was about Sankey breaking free on long runs.
One FBS recruiter I spoke to said while the lack-of-playmaking criticism has merit, it is something that likely would be fixed by a college weight-lifting program.
OK, but where does he fit in at the UW?
The Huskies will get tailback Chris Polk for another season. Jesse Callier is the change-of-pace back, and he’ll be likely utilized heavily in the game plan next season as well. Deontae Cooper, who appeared on his way in earning the No. 2 running back role in fall camp before suffering a season-ending knee injury, should return to full-health status, and will be in the mix.
And don’t forget about fullback Zach Fogerson and his upside in short yardage at running back?
Assuming Sankey can upstage the likes of the Fogerson boys (Zach and Johri), he could end up as the fourth-string running back when the season opens against Eastern Washington. He also could be a redshirt candidate.
But after Polk leaves, Callier becomes a junior and Cooper enters his sophomore season, anyone think Sarkisian and his staff won’t be mining California for another top-flight talent to become his new rushing-game toy?
My fear for Sankey is that he becomes more of an example than a contributor. It’s no secret the UW hasn’t had a real presence in Spokane in a few years. Sarkisian wants that to change, so why not lift arguably that region’s most visible prospect to showcase that?
And, while we’re at it, let’s put a dagger in the side of our cross-town rivals (by the way, the UW folks are still a little steamed about the endless rain of snowballs that pelted injured defensive tackle Semisi Tokolahi while be taken off on a cart in the Apple Cup … so, how about that “snowball”?).
I firmly believe a better fit for Washington would have been Curtis High’s Rahmel Dockery (oddly enough, another WSU recruit), who has better skills in the special teams return game right now than anybody on the UW roster. Why not take a chance on him, even if he is a non-qualifier candidate?