Recruiting Round-Up

When I did my last recruiting round up, the Huskies had 19 commits and a full compliment of coaches on staff. Things have changed a bit since then, as Demetrice Martin has moved on to go home at UCLA and to be on Jim Mora's staff. Washington has lost a couple of recruits as a result, but that is certainly no reason to panic.

Well you can choose to panic if you want, but that will do about as much good as a Matt Foley seminar on low blood pressure (RIP Chris Farley). Sure, wring your hands and throw stick bombs on the message boards, but in reality, you are crapping the bed way too early.

If you haven't noticed, recruiting has changed. No longer can a verbal commit be celebrated as it once was. There once was a time when fans could jump up and down in glee when a standout high school athlete gave a verbal pledge to attend your school because it meant that he was in the bag. Ninety-five percent of the time you could take it to the bank that the young man was going to sign with your favorite school.

Those days are coming to an end. The new verbal commitment is essentially telling you that a PSA (Prospective Student-Athlete) has your school in the lead. IN THE LEAD. So it may be time to temper enthusiasm over verbal commitments, or at the very least pay close attention to the timing of the verbal commitment.

If it comes in the spring or summer, the odds of it sticking aren't nearly as great. If it comes in the fall the odds improve, but once the PSA starts taking visits watch how solid the verbal becomes or how it starts to wobble.

If it comes after all visits are complete, then you are getting something a little more worthy of celebration. But still, it should be considered soft until after all of the in-home visits are completed.

There are really about four "processing stages" a PSA needs to go through before you can really start to take what is said with proper perspective. It's all about the timing of the verbal.

The first stage is when the offers start coming in. The first offer is always exciting, and the one from the "dream school" is always exciting should it come. This is the full-on courting stage where emotions are running at their highest. If a PSA commits during this stage, it should be considered very soft. You see it often, kids giving verbal commits at a school's "junior day", where they invite the top juniors on their list to come to an event and do some early bonding with the current team. Not many of the top PSA's will commit during this time because they know that they will have plenty of time to check out all of their options. With the amount of coaching turnover we saw this year in the Pac-12, that should tell you right there that watching and waiting can be a good thing if you are PSA or the family of one.

The second stage is when the coaches begin to visit the kids on their high school campuses. Now PSA's have the chance to meet in person, put voices and personalities to the faces they see on television, and to form relationships that will continue in the form of phone calls and perhaps summer camps. Technically coaches can't officially meet players off-campus at this time, but the now-famous ‘Bump Rule' allows coaches to at least introduce themselves to the players. Meetings are set up to where the coaches might just happen to be at the right place when players are coming out of classes or talks with their own high school coaches. Because you don't get a second chance to make a first impression, these ‘bumps' can often be important in how relationships are formed and developed.

If commitments happen at this time, it is still pretty soft, but at least the PSA has probably had the chance to talk with the coaching staff and maybe see the campus over the summer. It is not an entirely "sight unseen" verbal commitment, but it is still very vulnerable to change should the PSA and family entertain free visits to other campuses.

The third stage is when the PSA visits the campuses of the schools he is considering. Often time there is no rhyme or reason to the order of visits, as the PSA needs to balance their schedule of events with the schools that they are trying to see. Schools will try to set up visits so that certain PSA's visit at the same time - or NOT at the same time - and will bring them in when certain activities are going on.

There are certainly weekends that are more attractive to bring in big names and coaches do their best to set these mega weekends up. If a PSA commits on their visit, that is something to be excited about. That means that your school is FIRMLY in the lead and that the PSA can see themselves playing there. However, unless they cancel all other visits and don't accept in-home visits from other schools, the verbal can be considered soft in nature. It can still be flipped.

The fourth stage comes when all visits are complete and the final in-home visits are happening. If a PSA is still uncommitted at this point, chances are they have a lot of great offers and are mulling one or two of them over. If a PSA verbals during this part of the process, you can take it to the bank. They have had enough time to field all the phone calls, have seen every campus they wanted to see, have met the key players on the teams they are considering, have had every coach in their living room to meet their parents, have had the chances to talk to friends so they can formulate their opinions, and have waited long enough to see how each team's coaching staff has faired in terms of still having jobs or still being in the same job. So when a kid gives a verbal commit during this time, it is as solid as you can get.

So the next time you decide to pop off about recruiting on a message board, see if it helps when you keep these "stages" in mind before posting. You don't want to necessarily temper your emotions, because that is a big part of the fun of following recruiting, but it might at least help you decide what emotion is appropriate for the situation.

In case you were wondering, the third stage is where we currently are. Visits are still happening and in-home visits will continue.

That being said, let's take a look at the UW board and see where the final holes are and what the class could look like:

OFFENSIVE LINE (2): Cory English, Nathan Dean. Both are as solid as can be, both in-state kids not looking to take any other visits. Both are solid cornerstone type recruits that will pay dividends in two-to-three years. Dean will play tackle and English center or guard. Would be nice to add three more bodies here. Zach Banner is the number one target here, and would be a solid tackle prospect. Shane Brostek I think is a slam dunk to the UW and will be a nice interior lineman in a couple of years spent behind Colin Porter, Colin Tanigawa, and Michael Criste. Jake Eldrenkamp might get a UW offer and if he does, he would round out a good OL class. I don't think Jeremiah Poutasi is in play for the UW any longer, and I'm not a believer that Arik Armstead is gonna come to the UW either. But you never know.

QUARTERBACK (2): Jeff Lindquist, Cyler Miles. Both are done visiting, and both are solid despite overtures from other programs. No further work needed at this spot.

WIDE RECEIVER (3): Dwayne Washington, Michael Rector, Kendyl Taylor. Washington is an underrated beast that is over 200 pounds yet runs a 4.4; Rector is a speed merchant who has Paul Arnold like gifts; and Taylor is a gifted runner after the catch on sweeps, screens, or returns. The Huskies could be done here and consider it a very solid class. But if they could add a guy of the caliber of, say, Davonte' Neal or Jaydon Mickens, they'd take him.

TIGHT END (0): With three stud underclassmen on the roster, there isn't a pressing need. Washington has offered Ian Taubler, but so have five other schools.

RUNNING BACK (2): Erich Wilson, Tairen Owens. Owens is the fly-sweep type of scat-back, where Wilson is more the every down-type of back. Wilson racked up 1700 yards and 26 touchdowns, and his 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame will beef up. He could also (and is willing to) move to cornerback, he is that versatile. That would open the door for a commit from in-state stud Keivarae Russell, who would be the home run hitter out of the backfield as both a receiving threat and a between-the-tackles guy. If Russell commits, this has to be considered a VERY strong crop of running backs.

DEFENSIVE LINE (4): Damion Turpin, Josh Banks, Kalei Auelua, Malcolm Jackson. Turpin could take more visits, but his verbal is pretty fresh. I see him as an inside player. Banks is solid to the UW and also an inside guy. Aeulua is 100 percent Dawg and looks like an end. Jackson appears to be solid to the UW but he could also take another visit. He looks like he has the body to be a nose tackle in a couple of years, so one more defensive end is likely to be added to the class. Or they could go after Jaxon Hood, Kendyl Taylor's teammate. Hood is a definite inside player though.

LINEBACKER (3): Cory Littleton, Ryan McDaniel, Blake Rodgers. With all of the young linebackers on the current roster, three may be plenty in this class. Littleton is an outside guy that is at his best rushing the quarterback. He could be the next speed end in line behind Josh Shirley and Corey Waller. McDaniel and Rodgers are inside thumper "MIKE" types. It's a good mix here. If they do add one, it would likely be Jared Afalava, who is choosing between Nebraska and Washington. Interestingly enough, Jordan Pulu has now been dropped by WSU. Would Washington come offer him now?

SAFETY (1): Jason Thompson. I saw Thompson play three times and LOVE what he brings in the secondary. Good hitter and better athlete, and he's a solid verbal. I am not sure they will add another. They lost Taylor Legace to UCLA earlier when coach Martin defected. Is it a huge loss? Not unless Travis Feeney, James Sample, and Evan Zeger all get injured. I think Washington can be done here if they want to be.

CORNERBACK (1): Darien Washington. This kid is big enough for safety but will try corner to begin with. Look for Washington to add at least one more here, maybe two. Randall Goforth appears at the top of the list, and Brandon Beaver appears ready to commit as well. Goforth and Beaver are both over 6-feet tall, providing good size.

KICKER: (1): Korey Durkee. Durkee will challenge for both kicking and punting jobs, but the Huskies will likely bring in one more kicker in this class. Mercer Island's Alex Wood is an intriguing prospect with a strong leg. If he gets a late offer or is a preferred walk-on, it would be a solid class. If not, Durkee having to compete for two jobs might be asking a lot mentally, even if he has the talent to do both.

So the Huskies have some flexibility to finish up their class. They have six scholarships remaining and have the following numbers to bounce around:
OL: 2 or 3 (Banner, Brostek preferred. Armstead is a pipe dream, and Eldrenkamp has yet go get an offer.)
TB: 1 (Russell). If Russell does come, Wilson may move to cornerback, lessening that need.
CB: 2 (Goforth, Beaver). If Russell comes, it is possible that only one of these will keep their offer.
DL: 1 (Hood?)
LB: 1 (Afalava)

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