Tosh Lupoi - Impact Report, Part Two

Many media outlets are calling the move of Cal's Tosh Lupoi to Washington the recruiting story of the year to date. And the crazy thing about that is Lupoi's eligibility was used up years ago. He's a coach, and he's also considered one of the top recruiters in the country. And he's 29. So how does something like that happen?

And will Lupoi's success luring top recruits to Berkeley immediately translate to Montlake?

These questions reveal not only how people see Lupoi, but also how the move to Washington makes sense for him at this particular time, even if it appears on the surface to be a choice he normally wouldn't have made, given his loyalty to his alma mater.

"He's a terrific guy, much loved by fans and recruits," said Chris Avery, Publisher of Bearinsider.com, the biggest independent site for Cal athletics. "He's stand-up…he's looks a little bit like a Marine, right out of uniform. He's a big guy, strong guy, and a strong speaker and a very persuasive personality. He's a good guy, and the Washington Huskies have done very well to get this guy."

"He's young, he's energetic, and I think he really gets the 21st century recruit," added Brandon Huffman, National Football Recruiting Analyst and West Regional Recruiting Manager for FOX Sports and Scout.com. "I think what separates him from a lot of other recruiters is that he knows what a 17 and 18-year old kid is looking for in a university. He knows how to address that when he's recruiting him; he knows how to highlight certain things on official visits…he just gets it."

One national analyst - Greg Biggins of ESPN - was unabashed in his praise for how Lupoi appeared to solely take charge of the top, top prospects on Cal's recruiting board the past couple of years, something that helped to elevate his national profile as a recruiter that could sell ice to eskimos as well as anyone else in the business.

"Even though Cal struggled, he was still able to get…he was single-handedly putting this class together," said Biggins. "That's how they did it at all. They would put Tosh on everybody. Not just by position or by area geographically - Tosh would get all their top guys. So all their top guys - Shaq (Shaquille Thompson), Ellis McCarthy, Jordan Payton, Bryce Treggs - all those guys were Tosh's recruits."

And with Monday's move, the self-proclaimed #calgang - Cal's recruiting class as they are known in the Twitterverse - are starting to look less a gang and more like a small gathering. Thompson, Scout.com's No. 1 safety prospect, is now 50/50 between Washington and Cal, and Ellis McCarthy verbally committed to UCLA Monday night after an in-home visit with former UW cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin. Payton is now open to taking visits to UCLA or Washington. There's only a few Cal commits that have come out 100 percent for the Bears at this point in time; they include Treggs, Matt Cochran, and Lakes athlete Cedric Dozier - who told Dawgman.com Monday night that, "I wish (Lupoi) the best of luck, but I know in his heart he's still a Golden Bear."

There's no question Lupoi will bleed Cal 'til he dies, but as Dozier also said - he knows this is a business. And as such, you have to go where the best opportunity is. Right now, UW offered him a substantial pay raise, as well as a chance to coordinate and reunite with former Cal linebackers coach Justin Wilcox.

Apparently the third time is a charm for Wilcox, who reportedly tried to lure Lupoi to both Tennessee and Texas before finally talking Tosh into switching his digits from the 510 to the 206.

So we know Washington is getting a guy in Lupoi that is universally respected and admired by players and high school coaches alike. "I think he connects with the players really well, and he's passionate about what he does, and I think he's a good coach," said Lakes Head Coach Dave Miller. "He came from De La Salle, which is one of the best high school programs in the nation, and he knows how to do things right. He's got great enthusiasm, great fire; I think he's going to fit in very well with what Sark is trying to build there."

So exactly how is he going to fit? Looking from the outside in, it's easy to just give Lupoi an expense account and tell him to set on sail until Signing Day, but there's more to it than just that. His connection with Wilcox appears to be a very tight one.

"I love the guy," Bellevue Head Coach Butch Goncharoff told Dawgman.com Monday when asked about the new hire and what it might mean for him when dealing with the new blood at UW. "I was a big fan of Justin Wilcox; I've known Justin since he was at Boise, but I like Tosh a lot too when he was at Cal. Obviously he recruited our area and did a great job with our kids. We never had a kid play for him, but he did a great job. He was really big on Julious Moore a couple of years ago, and he's just a bright guy. He's a De La Salle guy, and we like those De La Salle guys up here. He's a good guy and I think it's a great hire for them.

"They are young and energetic. I know Justin's not married…'married to football'. I know they work hard, and they'll work even harder now. Bright guys too. I think that's the first thing I like about both guys. You meet a lot of different guys, but both of them have always been straightforward and honest with our kids. And that's a huge thing. And the same could be said for Sark. When I talk to him, I think he's a great guy."

Listening to all the differing points of view, it's clear to me now that in many ways Justin Wilcox is the Steve Sarkisian of defense - at least looking at it through Sark's eyes. He sees a lot of similar characteristics, a lot of the same moves made at a young age, that same competitive spirit. It's those shared traits that led an analyst like Biggins to proclaim Monday that Wilcox is well on his way toward becoming a head coach in three years. He's on that track.

"I remember going to the Fiesta Bowl a couple of years ago when they were playing TCU and I was down there because one of our kids, Travis Stanaway, was playing for them," said Goncharoff. "Watching them defensively in that game was amazing. He's a bright guy, that's for sure."

The same could very well be said for Lupoi. Another analyst hinted that the potential lack of upward mobility at Cal could have been just as compelling a factor as UW opening their sizable wallet. "I think he's done all that he could do at Cal, and it didn't seem like he was going to be defensive coordinator at Cal," said Huffman. "It was almost like, I'm going to go spreads my wings somewhere else."

Once Lupoi unpacks his bags at the nearest Silver Cloud Inn, what next? What can he do to help salvage what has been seen as a lackluster 2012 Washington recruiting class to date? "That's the question," Biggins opined. "Shaq (Thompson) will for sure - he's interested. I just talked to him and he's for sure interested. He's actually close to Wilcox, believe it or not. Wilcox recruited his older brother Syd (Syd'Quan Thompson). Now, can they get in on Ellis McCarthy or Bryce Treggs? I don't think so. I think the bigger impact will be next year. I can be proven wrong. Tosh could maybe go in and steal a bunch of guys. But at this late point - unless the kid was already looking at Washington, like Shaq - I don't think they could go get a guy from Cal or a guy going elsewhere if they were already locked into a school unless they already had interest in U-Dub. I think it's just going to be hard."

Huffman agrees. "It's going to be more noticeable in the 2013 class especially, just like with any head coaching change, because Lupoi will have a whole year to sell Washington," he said. "The one thing that's keeping me from saying all these kids are going to follow him right now is that a lot of them never visited Washington and they've already taken their five official visits. So there may not be that immediate impact, but they are going to really reap the benefits next year."

So for those hoping for a slew of Signing Day surprises, the only surprise may end up being that there aren't a lot. But that's the Lupoi factor at work; you really never truly know you're out of it. Case in point; Cal hitting the North Carolina trifecta on Signing Day 2010.

It's clear Lupoi relishes a test, especially the ones that have been set up as impossible to ace. Just based on his results, when Tosh comes to work he has his pencils sharpened.

Which leads to the final - possibly most important - part of Lupoi's move to Montlake; national appeal. According to Bearinsider.com Staff Writer Jim McGill, the one responsible for handling most of their recruiting coverage, Lupoi is a coast-to-coast brand. For Washington recruitniks that go back to the Rick Neuheisel era, think of it this way: Tosh is going to be Bobby Hauck.

When John Anderson, UW's kicker from 1999-2002, was being recruited to Washington from Boynton Beach, Florida, it was Hauck - now the head coach at UNLV - who spearheaded the charge. Hauck ran point on getting Anderson's teammates - Rich Alexis and Charles 'ET' Frederick - to don the purple and gold.

Tui Alailefaleula in Anchorage, Alaska? Casey Paus in New Lenox, Illinos? Roc Alexander in Colorado Springs? Greg Carothers in Helena, Montana? Quentin Morgan and Kevin Ware from Texas? Just give Hauck a call and he'd be on his way to get the signature.

It sure seems as if Lupoi also has the gift to be able to go anywhere at any time and seal the deal. On reputation alone, Kyra Sedgwick has nothing on Washington's new closer.

"He was a fairly key role in the North Carolina guys' recruitment, so that might be one example," McGill said of Lupoi's successful efforts to sign Gabe King, Chris McCain, and Keenan Allen - all originally from North Carolina - on Signing Day 2010. "And (Nick) Forbes might be an example. He's a national guy that Cal probably wouldn't have been on the radar with.

"Very few coaches can recruit on a national scale without any kind of outside connection. The element that's missing though, is the personal background side of it. If they'd have to rely strictly on the force of his personality and what he has to sell with Washington, versus his personal experience - which was a really compelling part of what he had to sell…he'll be a very good recruiter wherever he goes. I guarantee that. I don't see him being nearly as effective anywhere else than Cal because of the personal history. But because of his personality and his ability to relate to kids he'll always be good wherever he is.

"But it's the difference between being unbelievable and being very good."

If Lupoi is merely 'very good' - especially when it comes to luring recruits from the midwest and east coast, something absolutely unheard of before his arrival - then there's no end to the potential of this staff to become the premier recruiters in the Pac-12

Sarkisian is known for saying he felt success at Washington would happen sooner, rather than later. I think the proven track record of Lupoi when it comes to wrangling top talent is exactly what Sark was talking about.


Here's Part One of our impact report on Tosh Lupoi's move to UW.


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