Commitment Impact: Sean McGrew

In what can only be considered big recruiting news Wednesday, 2016 running back Sean McGrew from St. John Bosco in Bellflower, Calif. verbally committed to Washington over UCLA, Arizona State, and others. But what does it mean for UW recruiting going forward as they try and piece together the rest of their 2016 class?

Here’s Sean McGrew’s video announcement:


Player Evaluation: “One of the most explosive backs in the West since his sophomore year. Has a great combination of balance, patience and suddenness. Doesn't need a lot of room and once he sees the hole, can explode through it and will not be caught from behind. He's a true home run hitter from anywhere on the field and will likely run in the 10.5-100m range as a junior. Also runs very hard for his size, can break tackles and always finishes falling forward.” - Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins

What does McGrew’s commitment mean for Washington’s recruiting going forward?: It means quite a few things, actually. First, I think we can officially put down the notion that Chris Petersen can’t recruit in the Pac-12. McGrew was thought to be a UCLA lean for a while, but after reading his post-commit quotes it’s clear Washington made him a priority and that love made a difference in his recruitment. In the end, they went head-to-head with a top Pac-12 team in their backyard and plucked a Scout.com nationally-ranked top-175 player from the Bruins’ grasp. That doesn’t happen very often.

Secondly, McGrew’s commitment signals to the Pac-12 that the early hype surrounding Washington’s recruiting efforts wasn’t just hype. Scout.com analysts have talked about how the Huskies were doing so well along the recruiting trail for 2016 that they were one of the top teams being mentioned by a lot of the southern California studs. USC and UCLA are always going to lead the pack in that regard, but when Washington is right up there with the Trojans and Bruins, that’s saying something. Historically Washington has been up there, but that’s always coincided with great football teams. With the football being less than it was, it’s taken something a little special for the Huskies to get back in the recruiting game down south, but McGrew’s commitment may be a sign of things to come.

Will his pledge create a ripple effect? Will it result in more top prospects making an effort to attend Washington’s Rising Stars camp in the summer? Will it result in a top quarterback to give Washington a second look? Under Petersen, UW is never going to tear it up during the first six months of a recruiting process; that time is spent laying the groundwork and making sure the relationship is right before moving forward. McGrew’s commitment shows that when a family buys into what the Washington coaches are all about, buys into the ‘Washington Experience’, it doesn’t necessarily take a ton of extra convincing. That all goes into the due diligence when deciding which players fall under the ‘OKG’ mantra.

Third, what’s also becoming clear is the pattern by which Washington recruits under Petersen. The coaching staff identifies prospects early on, checks them out in person - either via games or during the evaluation periods - and then creates their list of the most important prospects on their board. Then it’s simply a matter of convincing the player and his family that Washington is the right situation for them.

In the case of Washington recruiting McGrew, they fell in love with him early on. Being from a big team like Bosco, one that also produced former Huskies Keith Price and Will Shamburger, McGrew came out of the blocks like a house afire his sophomore season. Last year all he did was go for over 2100 all-purpose yards and 32 touchdowns. So there was plenty of film to determine whether or not the 5-foot-8, 175-pound McGrew would be the right fit for the Huskies. He was.

The commitment of McGrew to Washington may not parlay itself into a rash of immediate commits from other top players, but I could see it paying off handsomely down the road. He may become a spokesman for the Huskies, letting other recruits know about his experience with Petersen and the Washington coaches, providing a thorough, honest take. McGrew also seems to me the kind of prospect that might take more than just his official visit to Seattle in order to entice other top targets to join him. Obviously we’ll see if that materializes.

Fourth, with scholarship numbers fairly low for 2016 - if they sign 20 that would be a very optimistic expectation - getting impact players at the skill positions was always going to be critical for UW, and they just got one. McGrew is a fast, productive back that plays for a top team in southern California, and those type of players are always in short supply. Nailing down a commitment from one of them allows the Washington coaches to push on to others and show them the same amount of love they showed McGrew.

We will see what happens with Deontae Cooper after this season. He could very well decide to move on, and his number would obviously be replaced in the running back depth by McGrew. Washington is at the point now where their class balance and depth at running back will allow them to target one top guy who they are absolutely in love with, and that number will be replacing a departed senior. That’s the ideal scenario, and if Cooper does decide he’s done with college football after 2015 the Huskies would be right on track with Dwayne Washington graduating after the 2016 season, Lavon Coleman after the 2017 season, etc…


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