Recruiting - Be Patient

Recruiting is the life blood of any program. You must build depth, talent, speed, and balance constantly in order to provide the nucleus for success. It's very difficult to do that with an outgoing coach and staff, but Washington's new President and Athletic Director are doing all they can to keep their school on the radar of the top recruits up and down the West Coast.

Today's Apple Cup in Pullman will be the final game of Keith Gilbertson's short tenure at Washington, and he will move out of the Graves Annex Building for good. He will take some time off and have surgery to replace his ailing hip.

The assistant coaches are all on contract until June, but several have expressed a desire to work with AD Todd Turner and President Mark Emmert until the new boss arrives. "Those guys love living here and would like to be considered for that new staff. They'll continue to recruit and to work with the players that are on campus that need a contact," said Turner.

It has been widely speculated that Chris Tormey's contract was of the two-year variety, but Turner said that all coach's contracts run through June 30th of next year, including Tormey's.

RECRUITING – PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

While recruiting would appear to be all but dead if you have read the Internet message boards recently, behind the scenes activity on the Washington campus puts that myth to rest. Emmert and Turner are on the recruiting trail as hard as the rules allow.

"We've already contacted all of our prospects by mail. The NCAA limits what we can do while we have an existing coaching staff in place, because they only allow a certain number of people to recruit," said Turner. "We've been a little bit shackled by that, but President Emmert has written to the parents and I've written to all of our recruiting prospects on our list."

That includes prospective student athletes that had not been considering Washington before.

"We've had positive response to it. I've had some high school coaches and some parents call me to discuss it. What we are trying to convey is to ask people to keep an open mind and to be patient and wait to see where things end up here."

Turner doesn't want the new coach to be hamstrung from the beginning, hence his efforts at keeping prospective student athletes thinking about Washington and their new coach, whoever that may be. The school is expected to spend in the neighborhood of $2 million, maybe more, per season, to attract the best coach available. And to give him the best chance to succeed early, Turner is not going to throw in the towel on this year's recruiting class.

"We're doing our normal recruiting correspondence through the football office, and former player Greg Lewis wrote a letter about his personal experiences of being a Husky, and we sent that out last week," said Turner.

"We want them to continue to be interested, and to know that we are fully committed to having a national contender in football, and we encourage them to be patient before they make any commitments so they'll have a chance to talk with our new coach."

The message is the same for any student athletes that are looking to commit to Washington right now – be patient.

"It would be difficult to speak for the coaching staff if someone wanted to commit right now," explains Turner.

"Let's say you needed the best guy at his position in the country call and want to commit. Well, the new coach may not even have that position in his scheme. So what we would try to do is encourage them to keep us #1 on their list, but as soon as our coach arrives, come talk with him and see if it's a good fit."

Turner is a calming presence in what is normally a frenetic paced rollercoaster ride. "I think that people should just be patient about recruiting. I know that they get anxious about it, but I've been in this business for a long time. Invariably, the players that mean the most to your program usually commit near the end of the process, even under the best of circumstances. I know there are stories that would refute that, but I really believe that your recruiting class is made in those final three weeks."

"We know that there are players out there that are aware of our history and our tradition, but what we are now trying to get across is our commitment to getting back on top, and that means getting the right coach. I want the high school football world to know that there will be a quality program here, and to be patient."

Turner has fielded some phone calls from parents and high school coaches, so his recruiting activity appears to be yielding the desired results of keeping the Huskies on the minds of the best young football players on their recruiting list.

Next month, the Huskies should have a new coach to take advantage of the groundwork laid by this effort.

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