Photo of Waller by Stephen Dachman
You really can't say enough about Steve Sarkisian, and the job he's done lately recruiting local football talent. We stood with him on the sideline of Poly's CIF championship win over Tesoro in 2008, just days after he was named the new coach at the University of Washington, and he expressed admiration for the depth of talent in Long Beach. His years at USC certainly acquainted him with the talent from Poly, and the other schools in the Moore League.
Sark cashed in on that familiarity pretty quickly, getting Talia Crichton from Lakewood in 2008, and then league Player of the Year John Timu and Princeton Fuimaono from Jordan this season—the attention he's paid to local talent, and his loyalty in not yanking Timu's offer even after the senior sustained a serious knee injury, have gone over well with local players and coaches. Now, Sarkisian seems to be seeking to up his program's profile to another level in Long Beach, by getting the first offer in to Poly juniors Corey Waller and Kameron Jackson.
Both players participated in the Army All-American Combine (the highest honor the event bestows on underclassmen, who aren't eligible to participate in the actual game), and Waller in particular will be a high-profile recruit headed into next year. The 6-3 junior had a fantastic junior season, with 60 tackles, 8 sacks, a pick, 2 safeties, and a blocked punt—he also saw some playing time as a sophomore on that CIF championship-winning team Sarkisian watched in person. Tall, strong, and fast, Waller is the kind of player who can be scary as a pass-rusher, or in run coverage. Jackson, a safety, had four picks 25 tackles last season, and is primed for a great senior run.
Neither have committed, but it's notable that UW is the first school to offer—it should help to give them a leg up on other schools who are slower to the competition (USC in particular is expected to make a hard run at Waller). Regardless of where they end up, you have to admire UW's attention to the local scene—being the first school to recognize the ability of Waller and Jackson, players in the backyard of USC and UCLA, is pretty impressive.
And, should they end up signing with UW eleven-and-a-half months from now, the idea of a Huskies defense in a few years with Crichton and Waller on the line, Fuimaono at linebacker, and Timu and Jackson in the defensive backfield, has to be pretty exciting to local prep football fans.