Ask Coach Baird

Hello Dawg fans. Thanks for your emails this past year - it really is fun for me to converse with fellow Husky fans and insightful to read what you feel and think of what's going on with the Huskies. Keep those letters coming, as I enjoy connecting with my fellow Husky brethren. And now, onto the latest batch of letters . . . .

From Bill Muench – "Hawaiian Husky"
: It just dawned on me looking over the commit list that we had over a dozen kids from California. While I know that it had to sting the coaching staff a bit to lose the two top recruits from the Seattle area, is there anything we can read into this statistic? Could it be that the past two seasons was a factor?

A: There is no doubt that a 1-10 record followed by a 2-9 is reason to suspect that other schools are pointing out a losing trend at Washington. I can't really relate because I was never faced with anything worse than a 6-5 record to recruit with. However, I don't believe it was a great year in-state in the first place and taking only five in-state recruits was more reflective of the talent pool than of their losing two of the best. I was not surprised at all losing Mays, as the UW has a long record of not signing the top O'Dea kids. I know they used to push their kids to Notre Dame but USC was never really a factor there. Conversely, I really thought that the Bellevue kid would pick Washington because of his family. That one threw me for a loop. Long distance recruiting never tells you the hidden cost of going that far away to school. Between phone calls and trips to and from school, essentially the family is no longer part of the equation. I feel sorry for the parents as I know they wanted to watch their kid play but at least he won't be playing at Cal. I think you hit the nail on the head with how hard it is to recruit with losing record.
From Jeff
Dear Coach Baird,
: We've lost three offensive linemen from an 'average' line. Who are the likely replacements, and how would you assess their ability and potential. Also, how do you assess our defensive line prospects for the coming year? Gunheim looks very promising, but what about the other redshirt freshmen and sophomores. Also, how big an impact will White-Frisbee have?

A: I think they have some guys waiting in the wings who will prove to be pretty good on the offensive side. Most specifically, I like Ben Ossai and Rosborough the giant. I think Juan Garcia should finally contribute as well and I was impressed with Cad Macklin when I did see him last year. Nathan Flowers is one who I think will be hard to keep out of the lineup and Clay Walker and Stanley Daniels should only get better as they will both be seniors. White-Frisbee will really help if he fully recovers from his injury, and there are still kids like Casey Bulyca and Ryan Bush that have been waiting in the wings. Bulyca still has to rehab though. The JC transfer Aaron Mason will certainly be given a look as well. I think the real positive though is that OL coach Mike Denbrock is back and that alone should make the O line better. Defensively Gunheim finished really strong and I have always like Wilson Afoa and Erik Lobos. Caesar Rayford, if he gains 15-25, pounds could end up a real force. The kid I was impressed with was Daniel Te'o-Nesheim who has a great motor. Walt Winters just shuts his mouth and works his tail off. The key ingredient to the defensive front might be Anthony Atkins as a speed pass rusher who they just signed out of a JC. I can't imagine any of the other just signed freshmen linemen will contribute this year.
From JM
Coach Baird,
: In your opinion, Coach, why did Oregon have a recruiting rank of 53 this year? Then went 10-2 last year so it seems a bit odd to me.

A: The Ducks did not have a lot of spots so their recruiting ranking reflected that. Also, the state of Oregon rarely produced more than a half dozen division one players any year so they are really at a disadvantage in their home turf. I think they had such a load last year that this year was going to be slim pickings for them anyway. Oregon always does well because they have continuity of staff and have great promotion and support by Nike. As long as Phil Knight stays involved the Ducks will be fine. Besides number 53, 38, 62 etc. whatever you chose over 30 is just a crapshoot in recruiting ranking anyway. Oregon, Washington, or any other Pac-10 school besides the two in LA will never be ranked high in recruiting even if they are really good. I named schools who I thought would be in the top ten without any knowledge at all about how they recruited and hit 8 out of 10. Rankings are stupid for recruiting classes but USC, Ohio State, Penn State, Texas, FSU, Florida, Miami, Alabama, Michigan, and Notre Dame will ALWAYS be ranked in the top classes. They are anointed that because of who they are in college football. Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and some east coast team will also be included but not many out west. In short, Oregon probably did fine regardless of their ranking. They recruit to their system and they develop players in it.
From Randy Jones in Bellevue, WA
Coach Baird,
: I think Coach Willingham and his staff made real progress in recruiting this year. They seem to have brought in a pretty solid class; I've always believed recruiting starts at home. I am particularly happy to see the instate big boys for the D&O-lines not getting away. The exception being Schilling, the only blessing is that he left for an out of conference school. I have a question about JC recruit Ashlee Palmer; according to Nebraska scout. Com 2/1/2006 ( he allegedly signed a letter of intent and faxed it to Nebraska in Dec. 2005. If that is true, then wouldn't Palmer be ineligible to play for UW next fall? Is this a common scenario? Given the UW history with the NCAA; what (if any) ramifications could this have?

A: At first I thought the exact same thing. After reviewing this case though I think the UW is well within its right to sign Ashlee Palmer who may prove to be one of the top three in the class. The rule for early signing of JC's is designed to allow them to sign before the official date so that they can enroll in school the very next semester. Otherwise a JC kid could never get to spring practice because semester schools would already have started before he is finished with JC. However, if you fail to enroll because you don't complete your AA or have admittance to the school you signed with, which in this case was Nebraska, then you immediately go back into the pool and are eligible to sign with anyone else who can get you into their school and that can also be the same school you signed with in the first place. In Palmer's case, he decided after he was rejected at Nebraska that he would change his mind and followed a friend to Washington. I am happy he did but he still has to gain eligibility to enroll here so he has work left to do. This is exactly what happened with Qwenton Freeman last year. He was denied admittance by the UW so signed immediately with Arizona. Palmer could prove to be one of the real gems of this signing and it pays to continue your recruiting right up until the last minute. columnist and KJR 950 Sports Radio personality, Dick Baird.
Dick Baird was an Assistant Coach (Linebackers) and Recruiting Coordinator at the UW from 1985-1998. He has joined the staff as a featured columnist for both the web site and Sports Washington magazine. In addition to his regular editorial columns, Coach Baird will try to provide some of his unique perspective by answering a few of your selected questions online. If you would like to send in your questions, please CLICK HERE.

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