Coaching/Recruiting Impact: Scott Huff

Chris Petersen has pulled water from a familiar wellspring with the hire of Scott Huff to replace Chris Strausser, who joined the Denver Broncos last week. Huff, who was Boise State’s Offensive Line Coach the last three years, was also their co-Offensive Coordinator last season.

Huff will go back to just working with the offensive line at Montlake, while Jonathan Smith continues to be UW’s Offensive Coordinator. Huff and Smith both coached together in 2012 and 2013 under Petersen at Boise State. 

Interestingly enough, Huff was offered a job at Washington when Petersen was hired in December, 2013 but turned it down to stay in Boise. Huff, like Petersen, was considered a Boise lifer until this week. He played collegiately in Boise, and turned down opportunities to move on once he became a coveted position coach.  

But after 11 seasons with his alma mater, it was time to move to a new challenge. 

So what is Washington getting in Scott Huff?

First, they are getting a coach Petersen knows extremely well. He wanted to bring him to Seattle the first time around, so it’s not surprising Petersen made a second move to procure Huff’s services. 

"I've known Scott as a player and as a coach for a long time. He was one of my first hires as a newly-appointed head coach," Petersen said. "We're just thrilled to have him join us here."

As co-Offensive Coordinator in 2016 with Zak Hill, Huff oversaw a Boise State offense that averaged more yards per play and per game than Washington’s record-setting 2016 offense. They were 13th in the country in third down offense, UW was 30th. Both teams were tied for 25th in completion percentage BSU was 11th in the country in least amount of penalties. UW was 49th. 

In speaking to those more familiar with the Broncos, fans were not thrilled with their rushing offense, which was 63rd in the country and averaged 4.60 yards per carry. By comparison, Washington was 44th in the country, averaging 5.24 yards per carry. 

Second, they are getting a coach that actually looks like an offensive lineman - not that it makes any tangible difference, but it is notable. Strausser was always a bit of an anomaly, appearing to be more like a receivers or defensive backs coach due to his undersized stature. 

Huff played center for the Broncos, starting 40 games in his career and taking down all-WAC honors as a senior. 

Third, Huff followed a career path that closely resembles that of Strausser, so continuity will be key. Both coached together under Petersen for seven seasons at Boise State. From 2007 through 2009, Huff was BSU’s Offensive Line Coach, and Strausser coached the tight ends. From 2010 through 2013, their roles were flipped. Of note, Huff was the OL Coach on the 2009 team that went unbeaten and allowed the fewest sacks (5) of any team that year in the country. 

Huff had a hand in either recruiting or developing seven pro offensive linemen during his time at BSU: 

Ryan Clady

Daryn College

Marcus Henry

Charles Leno

Rees Odhiambo

Matt Paradis

Nate Potter

The consensus opinion of those that have seen Huff grow as a position coach at Boise believe he’s gotten better as a coach as the years have gone on, but still may not be ready for prime time. He struggled a lot trying to replicate the success that Sean Kugler (now UTEP Head Coach) but has steadily improved. 

The comparison with Strausser is that Chris was a better position coach and developer but recruiting wasn’t his strong suit. Huff is the exact opposite: a very strong recruiter but the jury is still out on whether or not he fully develops the talent on hand. 

Obviously he’ll have much better raw talent to work with at Washington, and in a sense he’s been grooming himself for a move up the ranks by biding his time and honing his craft. Washington fans should hope the three extra years in Boise were well-spent in terms of experience gathering and maturing as a coach. 

But what is unknown about Huff as a developer of talent on a level with Strausser, there’s apparently no debate about who is the better recruiter. 

The Southwest is Huff’s recruiting territory. Arizona is the primary state, but he’s also recruited New Mexico and Nevada. Six Arizona-based players - WR Julian Carter, WR Austin Cottrell, OL Austin Dixon, TE Matt Pistone, QB Rathen Ricedorff, and TE Jake Roh - are on Boise State’s current roster. 

In the past, players like quarterback Ryan Finley, defensive back Ebo Makinde (who ran a 4.24 40 during his time at BSU), defensive end Kharyee Marshall, offensive lineman Joe Kellogg (named to 2012 Outland Trophy watch list) and linebacker Aaron Tevis (signed by the New Orleans Saints as a free agent in 2012) are players Huff has brought from Arizona. 

Given how Jordan Paopao has earned a reputation as a stellar recruiter in Arizona, the two of them should have no problems dividing up and conquering the Grand Canyon State.  

Huff has also recruited offensive linemen from Idaho, Washington, California, Nevada, and Texas, so he’ll go where needed to get the best talent available.

In his late 30’s, Huff comes across well in the living room. He impresses parents with his demeanor and he gets the kids with his energy and attitude. 

There’s no question that Strausser recruited some very good players to Washington like Luke Wattenberg, Henry Bainivalu, Henry Roberts, Kaleb McGary and Trey Adams, and he evaluated others like Nick Harris that appear to be diamonds in the rough. But fans are probably going to remember the guys UW missed out on more. That’s just human nature. 

So from the recruiting perspective, Washington needed a reset when it came to the offensive line. It was a good time for Strausser to move to an opportunity to work strictly on development, while it was also a good moment and opportunity for Huff to take that next step in his development as a coach and recruiter by accepting a big challenge. 

Given his prior relationship with Petersen, Huff should hit the ground running. And given his prior relationship with Strausser, you’d hope their coaching points would be rooted in a lot of common ground, so growing pains should be immediately minimized as coach and players get to know each other this spring. 

This hire is a win-win-win-win for Huff, Strausser, Petersen, and Washington, and how often can you say that? 


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