By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) – Chris Petersen landed a gem to cap his first recruiting class at Washington.
Five-star defensive back Budda Baker, The Associated Press Washington state player of the year, was the top recruit to commit to Petersen and the Huskies during national signing day on Wednesday. Baker announced his commitment on local television on Tuesday night and then confirmed it on Wednesday morning by sending his national letter of intent.
"I think we're really excited to keep Budda here at home," Petersen said. "The second I got here that's all I heard about. We were familiar with him over in Boise. I think he's a fabulous player."
Petersen's first class went in waves after he was hired in early December to take over the Huskies program. He saw some players follow him from Boise State to Washington but also lost a few recruits who chose to follow former coach Steve Sarkisian to USC.
Baker was the top of the class, but Washington also was able to sign quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels, cornerback Naijiel Hale and defensive lineman Kaleb McGary. Critical to Petersen was signing six kids from Washington. Baker's signing was most critical after he first had given a verbal commitment to Oregon before changing to the Huskies.
"Six kids from Washington (is) really important for us to keep the best players here in the state," Petersen said.
Petersen went heavy on defense with 14 of the 24 signees coming on that side of the ball. McGary was a standout offensive lineman in high school, but will start his college career on the defensive line. Offensively, nearly half of Washington's nine signings were offensive linemen. The Huskies signed only two receivers, including Dante Pettis, the cousin of Austin Pettis who played for Petersen at Boise State.
Petersen joked with reporters at an afternoon press conference wondering why anyone was there and not in downtown Seattle celebrating at the Seahawks championship parade. Petersen said he was going to try to make it down to the parade but didn't think he could get back to campus in time.
"What a great day for Seattle. I really mean that," Petersen said.
National rankings (Rivals 38; Scout 38).
Best in class: Budda Baker, DB, Bellevue, Wash. The AP state player of the year in Washington was originally committed to Oregon, but decided he wanted to play closer to home. Major coup for Chris Petersen in his first season.
Best of the rest: DL Kaleb McGary, QB K.J. Carta-Samuels, CB Naijiel Hale, TE Drew Sample, DT Greg Gaines.
Late addition: Baker capped the recruiting class with his announcement on Tuesday night on local TV of his decision to stay at home.
One that got away: Jonathan Lockett, CB. Lockett was originally committed to Washington but followed Steve Sarkisian to USC.
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