Commitment Impact: Henry Roberts

Washington Football got some expected and much-needed news late Wednesday night when Henry Roberts, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound offensive tackle from Bellevue, verbally committed to UW for the 2015 class. As he admitted when his commitment became public, Roberts had pretty much made his mind up in May that he wanted to be a Dawg. So what are the Huskies getting in Roberts?

What kind of player is Henry Roberts?: “The first thing you notice about Roberts is just how flexible and fluid an athlete he is, which you love to have in an offensive lineman,” said Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Brandon Huffman. Scout.com has Roberts rated as a four-star offensive tackle, ranked No. 3 overall in the State of Washington, No. 25 at his position and No. 256 overall nationally.

“He’s long and lean, with room to still add some more weight, but plays bigger than his weight. Still, he’ll need to fill out. A natural knee bender, he fires off the ball in the run game. He’s light on his feet and does a great job of keeping them moving. Like most linemen to come from Bellevue, he’s terrific in run blocking, getting the initial punch in and typically renders his defender useless. Also like most linemen to come from Bellevue, pass protection is a work in progress, but he’s also one of the better ones as a prep in pass pro, which is partially attributed to his skill set and Bellevue throwing the ball a bit more than in years past. Needs to work on consistently playing low, sometimes he gets caught playing too high in pass protection, other times he keeps the pad level low, so its probably more attributed to a lack of pass blocking reps. Could play either tackle spot at the next level."

What does this commitment mean in the short term for UW?: Well, it means the Huskies are most likely done recruiting offensive linemen. They already have greyshirt Devin Burleson, as well as two other 2015 prospects - Wenatchee’s Trey Adams, and Jared Hilbers from Beaverton, Ore.

What does this commitment mean in the long term for UW?: With Washington losing five offensive linemen to graduation after the 2014 season, it makes sense to stock up. UW Offensive Line Coach Chris Strausser has said he would like to replace like for like in terms of numbers, and the Huskies will have 14 offensive linemen next spring, provided no attrition. That means 18 total when the 2015 frosh are added to the roster for the LEAP. That’s one less than in 2014 but still plenty of bodies to get work done, especially since they’ll still have at least six to seven linemen with playing time under their belts before the season starts, and that number will most certainly grow during the 2014 season.

What does this commitment mean for in-state recruiting?: Well, Roberts’ commitment is big on a couple of fronts. First, if anyone thought there should always be a pipeline between Bellevue and UW, you’ve got one now. First year Head Coach Chris Petersen took FIVE Bellevue players for 2014: Budda Baker, Shane Bowman, Morgan Richey, Max Richmond, and Mitch Johnson - who transferred in from UCLA. Add in Jake Eldrenkamp, Michael Kneip, and Sean Constantine - that makes seven current Wolverines on the UW roster. So does that mean the days of losing the likes of David DeCastro, Steve Schilling, and Myles Jack to other programs? You can never guarantee anything, but it’s clear by the growing number of Bellevue players staying home that UW has become the hot name again and players are finding reasons to leave home harder and harder to come by. That definitely bodes well when you look at what’s coming down the Bellevue pipeline, namely players like Ryan Bowman (Shane’s brother), Isaac Garcia, Isaiah Gilchrist, and others.

Secondly, it provides more evidence that Petersen can land, and keep, top talent home. No one is going to bat 1.000 nowadays, but if he is able to secure a commitment from Benning Potoae you could reasonably claim Petersen has cleaned up the last two years. He got Baker and Kaleb McGary at the end of last year, and Potoae and Roberts this year, and if it hadn’t been for sly move by Jake Browning Petersen probably ends up with the top-3 in-state prospects. That’s cleaning up and taking care of business at home.

Obviously there’s a lot more to putting together a successful recruiting class, and Petersen will have to supplement the top in-state guys with some great talent from southern California, Texas, Hawaii, etc… As we all know, the best UW classes have always had an inside-out feel to them - meaning the in-state fence was covered and then the rest of the class was filled in with prospects from outside the area.

Petersen is already off to a good start for 2016 by getting a verbal commitment from Brandon Wellington, arguably the top prospect in the state regardless of class and already rated a top-10 running back prospect nationally by Scout.com. Earning commitments from players like Roberts and Wellington only ups the profile for Washington in-state and makes it that much harder for the other top players to consider options outside the Evergreen State.


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