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Handing out the hardware

Wednesday marked the craziest, silliest day on the college football calendar, when future dynasties are built and hordes of adults take to message boards to obsess over the whims of high-school seniors. That’s right, ladies and gentleman — another national signing day has come and gone.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Washington football team received letters of intent from 22 athletes on Wednesday, a group that — stop the presses — Sarkisian praised as exactly the sort of class the Huskies needed.

“This class is about quality, this isn’t necessarily about quantity,” he said. “It’s about getting quality individuals that are going to make us a better football team, that are going to continue us on a quest not only for a Pac-12 championship but for a Rose Bowl championship, and ultimately a national championship.”

The UW class was ranked 14th in the country by Scout.com and 18th by Rivals.com at the time of this writing. While that probably doesn’t mean Husky fans should start packing their bags for Pasadena just yet, it is a group worth getting excited over. Despite the signing-day decision of touted defensive end Daeshon Hall to forego his commitment to the UW and instead sign with Texas A&M, the UW was able to lock up a number of players who should contribute on the field sooner rather than later.

To honor a day that’s all prognostication and very little substance, let’s hand out some awards we just made up:

Best recruit

Let’s start with the big one. The UW’s most important get has already been on campus since January. That would be quarterback Troy Williams, regarded by some the best dual-threat quarterback prospect in the country and a player who enrolled at the UW for the start of winter quarter.

But when it’s all said and done, not even Williams may have as big an impact as 6-foot-2, 285-pound defensive tackle Elijah Qualls, a giant so quick he also rushed for 708 yards and 10 touchdowns as a high-school senior running back. His speed could be the perfect complement to the strength of Danny Shelton in the middle of the UW defense.

Best name

This one’s a two-horse race between massive wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow and massive-r middle linebacker Azeem Victor. It’s really a matter of preference — the more syllables the merrier, or do you want a name that could cut glass?

In the end, it’s tough to beat Stringfellow, a player Sarkisian said already has an NFL physique and who is breaking new ground in the usage of apostrophes.

Biggest instant impact 

This honor could easily go to 6-foot-4 wideout Darrell Daniels or center Dane Crane, who Sarkisian described as one of the leaders of this class. But let’s go in an unexpected direction.

Kicker Cameron Van Winkle of Fall City, Wash., set a state record for most field goals made in both one season and in a career. His arrival could spell the end of the Travis Coons era, after Coons went 9-of-14 on field goal attempts last season.

Van Winkle plans to enroll this spring. The kicking job might be his by summer.

Sarkisian’s best save

While the Huskies lost one of the biggest fish on their hook in the aforementioned Hall, Sarkisian and Co. were able to hold onto another top recruit who was believed to be considering a late switch.

Cornerback Jermaine Kelly, widely regarded as a four-star prospect and the UW’s best recruit in the secondary, signed with the Huskies on Wednesday after a late flirtation with USC that arose after a pair of other top-notch defenders decommitted from the Trojans, opening up another spot. Kelly is a long, 6-foot-2 corner who has the speed and physicality to play early.

Well, that’s that, another year of the meat market in the books. But if your recruiting thirst still isn’t quite sated, fear not — another cycle of the craziest, silliest business in college sports is right around the corner.

“We’ve got Junior Day Saturday for 2014,” Sarkisian said, “so away we go.”

Reach Sports Editor Kevin Dowd at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @KevinDowd

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