Montana's skills fit at Washington
A week ago, there was some concern among Washington fans after the team lost out on quarterback Jake Heaps (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline), who committed to BYU. On Tuesday, that concern was washed away with news that Nick Montana (Westlake Village, Calif./Oak Christian) committed to new coach Steve Sarkisian's rising program.
When Heaps committed, I said I thought that he wasn't the top guy on Washington's list. Today, I believe the Huskies have added the quarterback recruit who was at the top of their board. Montana, an Under Armour All-American, is a better fit for the scheme and a very sharp, calm prospect with some of his father's demeanor.
Montana's picking the Huskies may come as a surprise to some, but it could be a great opportunity. He comes in as a signature recruit in a situation that should allow him to contribute early. When current starting quarterback Jake Locker moves on, there will be some uncertainty on the Huskies' roster in terms of quarterback depth. Although it's hard to project how a prospect will adjust to the advance skill required for the college game, I expect that Montana will contribute by his second year on campus, regardless of whether he redshirts.
Sarkisian developed some very good quarterbacks at USC, and Montana looks to be his next pupil. He's not as physically developed as some of the guys the Trojans have had throughout the years. He needs to get in the weight room and get physically stronger, which should enhance his ability to stretch the field vertically. He really needs to continue to develop strength and bulk from a durability standpoint.
That said, Montana's intangibles allow him to compensate for what he may lack physically. He has a knack for consistent accuracy and knowing where to go with the ball. A deceptively good athlete for the position, he also is very good at making plays on the run.
For Washington, this development shows that the Huskies are primed to be a player on the recruiting trail in Pac-10 country. When Washington has been successful on the field, it's because the Huskies have been able to bring in top-notch California talent. (In fact, one of the reasons Sarkisian was hired was his connections to that state.) Right now, four of the Huskies' 10 commits are from that football hotbed. With Montana on board, that trend seems likely to continue.
Losing out on Montana is a bit of a blow for several of the big-name programs that were recruiting him. The 2010 class is not exceptional at the quarterback position. So when one of these high-level guys comes off the board, it makes recruiting the position more difficult.
Tom Luginbill is the national recruiting director for ESPN's Scouts Inc.
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