Commitment Impact: Isaiah Renfro

With Washington's second verbal commitment in nearly as many days, has their been a momentum shift for the Huskies' 2015 recruiting class? They received a call Saturday morning from Isaiah Renfro, a four-star safety rated by, but he'll play receiver at UW. Out of UW's five known verbals, three are four stars; does this mean Petersen won't have any trouble competing for top talent?

What is UW getting in Renfro? - You can view Renfro's full 2013 junior year highlights HERE. The first-team all-CIF performer caught more than 1300 yards' worth of passes, and scored 20 touchdowns. While Washington's last commitment, TE/WR Mike Neal, is a project with plenty of physical upside, Renfro comes straight from the Mike Riley, current-production-is-a-great-indictator-of-future-production school of recruiting.

"Renfro is easily one of the most versatile players in the West," said's Brandon Huffman, a scout who has seen plenty of Renfro the past couple of seasons. "While he's a four-star safety on Scout, he was also a four-star receiver going into his junior year. He's a guy that we think has more upside and a higher ceiling at safety, but that's not to take away from his ability as a receiver.

"He was a touchdown machine at Sierra Canyon, with good size and speed, crisp route-running and soft hands. He has very good body control and can adjust to just about any throw. Defensively, he's a terrific run stopper but also equally adept at pass coverage.

"This a good get because he's one of the better athletes in the Southland and has been ridiculously productive the past two seasons."

Where does Renfro fit in with the UW receiving corps? - Right now, this is how the receiving group looks like in 2015, provided no attrition:
Marvin Hall
Jaydon Mickens
John Ross
Kendyl Taylor
Brayden Lenius
Dante Pettis

Lenius, at 6-5, is the only ‘big' receiver UW has in the returning lineup. Of course with the Neal commitment the Huskies are also stockpiling some bigger dual threat, hybrid WR/TE athletes that can play in-line, slot, or out wide, but they also need to have some burners that are more traditional receivers that can naturally stretch the field and provide a different type of mismatch in the intermediate and deep zones. Renfro definitely provides that kind of a mismatch given his size.

What does this mean for UW receiver recruiting in 2015? - Bringing in a 6-foot-2 receiver in Renfro makes sense, and I doubt he will be the only bigger WR the Huskies look to bring in for the 2015 class. They are already starting to turn up the heat on Utah commit Justice Murphy out of Vancouver Evergreen, and they've also offered some taller receivers like Cordell Broadus, Adrian Miller, Adam Turner, Desean Holmes, Jaylinn Hawkins, Jeremy Kelly, and others - all over 6 feet or taller.

Renfro is their first receiving commit, but by my count UW is currently at 84 scholarships and are expected to lose 16 players to graduation in 2014. They also have juniors like Jaydon Mickens, Shaquille Thompson, and Marcus Peters that could - with big seasons - jump into the NFL draft picture as early entrants. Let's say conservatively the Huskies lose three more players by attrition, so that's 19 lost. That would put the number at 65, meaning roughly a class of 20 prospects taken for 2015.

I think it's fair to say that since the Huskies have lost Stringfellow so far, and will lose Kasen Williams and DiAndre Campbell to graduation after the 2014 season, getting three scholarship receivers appears to be the right number to shoot for when projecting numbers per position group. There is a wealth of smaller, scat-back types already in the lineup, so I would expect Washington to go after at least one more bigger possession receiver, and maybe two.

Will UW be able to use Renfro's commitment as momentum moving forward? - This is probably one of the hardest questions to answer, because we really don't know if Petersen cares about recruiting momentum this early in the process. And whatever spark Renfro's commitment made on the regional or national scene was quickly dampened later Saturday night when Bellevue Newport OL Calvin Throckmorton verbally committed to Oregon, a shock to most in the Evergreen State that expected Calvin to stay closer to home.

Perhaps one of the more interesting corollaries to the question is this: Will there be greater retention in Petersen's earlier commitments compared to Steve Sarkisian's? The whole ‘OKG' thing has been beaten to death, but this question points straight to the heart of what could differentiate Petersen's PSA's from Sark's.

Prospects that commit before their senior season obviously have to be maintained longer, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. But Sarkisian had a difficult time maintaining the players involved in UW's infamous ‘St. Tosh's Day Massacre' back in 2012 when the Huskies nabbed seven 2013 commitments and one 2014 commit at their Rising Stars camp June 29th. Of the eight that verbally committed, only four signed eventual letters of intent - Stringfellow, Lavon Coleman, Elijah Qualls, and Andrew Basham. And Basham never made it into UW because of academics.

A less than 40 percent commitment maintenance rate isn't going to cut it under Petersen, and if we are led to believe that the ‘OKG's' are guys that, once they give their word they stick with their word, there shouldn't be any problem counting on Renfro to shut the process down and focus on his senior season without any interruption from would-be suitors.

The fact that, according to Renfro, USC and UCLA were ready to pull the trigger on offers if he had attended their camps next week, his case will be a nice litmus test to see just how well Petersen's recruits handle the pressure schools are bound to put on them once the decision to commit is made. The same goes for Mike Neal; if he blows up for Etiwanda this fall as the UW coaches are expecting, will he stay true to his commitment to the Huskies, or will his eyes wander once he's grabbed the attention of Pac-12 programs?

It's an interesting hypothetical, and every coach is ultimately faced with the reality of said situation every recruiting class. They do all the right things; they recruit the prospect and his parents the right way, earn their trust and their commitment, only to be turned away late in the game by a supposed better deal. It's simply part and parcel of the recruiting process.

But will Petersen's commits buck that trend? The new Husky Head Coach won't have to worry about prospects moving up in class, because he's at the BCS level now. It's not Boise State any more, and it's not top talent eschewing the Mountain West Conference for something seemingly bigger and better.

If a top four-star player like Renfro continues to say, ‘Thanks, but no thanks!' to teams like USC and UCLA - like he's doing so far - then he would become the early poster child for a standard Petersen UW recruit. Obviously time will tell what happens with Renfro and interest from other programs, but you get the sense in talking to the early UW commits that they are truly sold on what Petersen is selling and they aren't looking to shop anywhere else. They are saying and doing the right things- for now.

There's a long way to go until February.

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