Today we’ll tackle the secondary.
The talent pool for athletes and defensive backs out west was magnificent, so you can’t blame Washington Defensive Backs Coach Jimmy Lake from going all out to grab some of the best players he could find.
And boy did he find them! Not only did he achieve one main objective in keeping the local stars home (Taylor Rapp and Isaiah Gilchrist), but he went to California and Arizona, respectively, and pulled out gems from each state. (Kentrell Love and Byron Murphy).
So, as we have done with each position when determining a letter grade, we analyze how each position was recruiting with regard to quantity and quality.
The Huskies only lost one defensive back last year to graduation - Brian Clay, and they filled his number with Taylor Rapp from Bellingham. Rapp is an athlete with a reputation for aggressive play and a penchant for big hits. He is already on campus and ready to take part in spring ball.
And that’s it in terms of numbers. Washington out-shot their number by three, and there’s some reasons why that might have been the case.
First of all, when you have a chance to get Gilchrist, Love and Murphy you take them every day of the week and twice on game day.
Secondly, who is to say positions aren’t going to get shuffled around a bit. What does getting all this fresh talent do for a player like Austin Joyner, who redshirted due to injury last year? Will he stay at cornerback, or will he move to offense?
Third, attrition may take place - which in that case it makes sense for Lake to strike while the iron is hot and get the kind of players that could slot in right away in a pinch.
Obviously there’s nothing right now to suggest position movement - but these things do happen all the time and it wouldn’t come as a shock to anyone if they happened at Washington after spring football. Heck, we saw it during back-to-back bowl seasons where Kaleb McGary was moved to offense and Will Dissly got a crack at tight end.
There’s no guarantee that position switches will be permanent, or take place at all. But it’s one possible answer for why the Huskies over-bought.
What we do know is that attrition happens all the time, and would it really be surprising if a player or two saw the writing on the wall?
The quality of player in the secondary right now is so good, and the level of competition so strong, the position battles mirror natural selection. The weaker simply come to terms with it and move on.
And when we do look at the quality of corners coming in for 2016, there’s reason for the incumbents to worry. Gilchrist is physically ready, fast, and played for a top-notch program at Bellevue.
Kentrell Love was wooed hard by UCLA before signing with Washington. His length and size bring to mind King when he first got to Washington. And he played for arguably the top prep team in California, Corona Centennial.
And then we come to Murphy, probably the top prize in Washington’s 2016 recruiting class. Not only was he offered by a ton of the country’s top programs, but he spurned his local team - Arizona State - to become a Husky. That took guts.
So, in review - three of the four defensive backs are four-star prospects by Scout.com; two of them (Murphy and Love) are top-300 players nationally. And Rapp, despite being a lowly three-star in comparison, still had scholarship offers from schools like Oregon, Arizona State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Stanford.
Is there any doubt what this position group gets for a grade?