Ask Coach Baird

Hey Dawg fans! Happy holidays to all of you and your loved ones. I hope you are all enjoying a safe, exciting, and fun bowl season so far. It only gets better from here on out. Hopefully next year Ty will have the Dawgs in one of these games next year, despite the tough schedule. And now, on to the letters . . . .


From Patrick Olsen
Coach Baird,
: Really appreciate all your hard work for the HUSKIES program in the past and the continued support in the future. I have always wondered what your opinion would be on the best receivers in UW history. We know Reggie Williams was great, but I remember Jason Shelley and thought he had as much or more talent then Reggie. Would care to comment and break the two down talent wise? Also, top 3 running backs since the 70's to present. I would probably take Corey Dillon, but thought Nip was just as tough... Thought Jabari Johnson had lots of talent, but never could get healthy.

A: Receivers I thought were really good included Paul Skansi, Dave Williams, Jerome Pathon, Reggie Williams, but for individual game performance ET, Charles Frederick's game against Oregon State was the best I ever saw. I really like Corey Dillon as the best one season back ever in the history of the program and especially because I personally recruited him. Hugh McElhenny was my favorite as a kid and of course Napoleon was tremendous for us but the running back who I thought was really good but has gotten lost in the shuffle is Donnie Moore who played in the mid 60's. Joe Steele was outstanding and another name from the past was Charlie Mitchell who played right before Moore. Of the ones I have watched, I would rate Dillon at the top. The interesting thing is Washington has had very few of these kinds of break out skill players since the turn of the century and that is the biggest problem with the Huskies since Neuheisel was the coach. There has simply been very few play makers and ET's performance was unfortunately a one game wonder. Hopefully there is one on the horizon who will lead us back to the Rose Bowl, Happy New Year.
From Jack Sonnichsen
Coach Baird,
: Is it just my imagination, perhaps just wishful thinking, but I was watching film of Austin Sylvester and I thought I've seen this guy before, he looks and plays just like David Hoffmann. The film is identical - don't you think? Then I was reading about Nick Wood bench pressing 300 pounds eight times and pressing or curling 185- 50 reps and it reminded me of the numbers Dean Kirkland put up in high school. Could it be that just maybe we are finally getting the type of athlete we brought in during the mid and late 80's? - you think? As I recall, Nick is pretty much the same size as Dean - deja vu???? Thoughts, comments?

A: I do recognize big is big and fast is fast but really have not looked at Sylvester or any of the recruits in terms of pure evaluation, simply because all there is are high light tapes and short shots of them in action. That doesn't tell much. I think the program is swinging back towards the hard work, tough guys, and competitors and away from the flash and reputation players though. I put little weight on the star system because I never know who is doing the evaluations and designating the stars. I think that is obvious in how recruiting is going right now. They don't really care about "stars" and are more interested in substance of character. That is a departure from the pervious 5 years strategy. I think they are evaluating with depth in mind. Happy New Year,
From UDawg70
Coach Baird,
: When coaches are evaluating recruits, how do they account for size disparity in HS for large kids that line up against much smaller HS kids? E.g. 220# RB's or 300# OL? Also then, how do they account for differences in competition, say between large schools and small schools?

A: Comparing small schools to larger ones is really difficult. The best way is to see them in camp where they go against everyone else regardless of the size of their school. When evaluating linemen, there is always the problem of size differential. You simply have to get more tape to see how he does against another kid his size. Too many evaluators stop their evaluation at a highlight tape because they don't want to do the extra work. Currently at the UW, the position coach must evaluate players being recruited at his position. That way there are really two proponents for recruiting an individual and it usually is done with more than one evaluation. Hope that explains it.
From L. Snyder
Coach Baird,
: Coach Baird- wondering if you caught the Times article on Curt Marsh. With all his problems do you think it might be hard for the U to get really good big linemen. He only had a four or five year stint in the PROS. Is his story the norm?

A: Curt Marsh's story is a positive one as far as I'm concerned and will not have any effect on recruiting today's linemen. He has become even better now than he ever was because of his inspirational recovery. Men like he and Mike Utley who unfortunately suffered incredibly due to the sport of football. Although both have had a hard road to follow, I don't think either blames the sport or anyone for that matter. Both have just focused on the life that they have ahead of them and are living it. They are both wonderful examples of overcoming those very hardships which they had to endure. I know there were mistakes in treating Curt but there is no mistaking it in my mind that the Lord has used him to help others.
From Phil Rondo
Coach Baird,
: I really enjoy your work for KJR and Dawgman. It appears that recruiting is going quite well for the Dawgs this year, except in the trenches. Why is it so difficult to bring in top quality offensive linemen in particular? Are we getting our share of the State's best linemen?

A: I think you hit it on the head when you mention in-state linemen. It is usually there that the state of Washington produces its highest numbers of college players. This year happens to be a down year in state with regard to quality linemen. No question they lost a great one last year but I know they have really looked at every big kid in the state and some at great length before passing on them. You are correct in thinking that is the one area yet to address. Sitting at 20-plus commits right now puts them in good position to finish strong and grab some over the next three weekends. We were always in our best the first weekends in January so maybe it will be hot again. Look for Washington to sign the biggest class ever since they limited scholarships to 85. It is a balanced class already with the exception of linemen and they are addressing that right now. Because of numbers alone this will be the best class in the last eight to ten years. Coach Gilbertson actually brought in a really good class in his only recruiting year and it included full lines. Unfortunately, some didn't pan out but many are about to play integral roles up front for the Dawgs. I know there are some good linemen out there but I'm not sure there are many in this state. That is the bottom line because this state has traditionally supplied both the Huskies and the Cougars with enough linemen to be competitive nationally. Hopefully a Husky Happy New Year includes lots of big ones.

Dawgman.com 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 Dawgman.com 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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