Coach's Corner

Think recruiting is over? Not so fast, it's already time to start on next year's class, and if it ends up anything like this last one then look out, because the Huskies are stockpiling talent. It's time to take a quick breath, reload and get all the underclassmen evaluated and put two great classes back to back. That's how you win in college football.

That's the reality of it all, and there is no rest for the weary. To be good in recruiting is a process that never stops. The Husky coaches are not waiting for the ink to dry on the signed letters of intent for 2010 because they have already hosted some local juniors and sophomores at recent Husky basketball games. Before March Madness ends and spring ball starts up they will be bringing in almost all of the top underclassmen, at least the in-state ones.

The coaches have already compiled lists from their various geographic areas and those current high school juniors have been receiving mail since the start of their school year. You are not allowed to call any juniors except for once during spring recruiting. I think you will continue to see them push hard in Washington, Southern California, and Hawaii because those areas are obviously their prime recruiting base. Those areas had been the mainstay of Husky football for years but somehow dried up over the past ten years. Of course losing was mostly responsible but there was also a lack of emphasis that hurt.

Washington football had always been built from the inside-out: That is to say, start with Seattle and gradually work your way out. This year the state of Washington produced nine signees and will likely yield a similar number of local walk-ons. All estimates are that the this state is probably just as stocked for 2011 and expect the Dawgs to be major players on all the home-grown kids. I think you will always see coach Sarkisian and his staff signing anywhere from 8-12 in-state kids every year.

Now the Huskies are determined to make a bigger splash in Northern California, and have moved one of the better recruiters, running backs coach Joel Thomas, there as a primary recruiter in hopes of increasing their presence in the greater Bay Area. This happens every year at this time when you make personnel moves to strengthen your overall recruiting system. Of the 14 kids signed out of California only two came from the northern half of that state.

The fact that the entire coaching staff is returning is an excellent indication that recruiting will only get better as they each get more familiar with their respective areas. They have also now learned more about the UW and will be even better salesmen of the university and the city of Seattle.

Face it; recruiting is sales and the developing of a sound relationship with each kid and his family is critical. There is no doubt the Husky coaches are high energy and that creates excitement with the kids. They like the fast pace of Husky Football and it is obvious that some of the coaches really relate well with the high school kids. Right now though, it is the identification and confirmation of who those kids are that is most important.

Then you try like mad to get them into your camp and build a personal relationship. Both of their final signees, Cooper Pelluer and James Atoe, came out of their camp. Not only do you find out more about the kid in your camp, but you also get to lay down a solid personal relationship. Expect the Husky Football Camps, including the Rising Stars Camp, to be even bigger and better this coming June. That's because relationships are so critical.

I would estimate they already have over 500 DVD's already on file from the past two years, so that will greatly assist them in completing and confirming their preliminary evaluations. They likewise already have over 200 underclassmen on their primary mailing list and will be visiting all those high schools this coming spring. Right now, though, they will continue re-evaluating each kid and then giving the DVD's to the position coach for a cross-check. This is a very time demanding process.

I asked the recruiting assistants how many recruits now have cell phones and they estimated over 95 percent. That means each kid can call them any time they want, although if you miss a call, you aren't allowed to call them back yet. That does not change until September 1st or the start of their senior year, and even then it is restricted to one call per week.

They have already offered upwards of 50 scholarships for 2011. They expect to be offering more over the next month or so and that is precisely why they are currently working so hard on recruiting evaluation.

Don't expect another 30-man class next year because their numbers will restrict them, but do expect them to produce another quality class particularly after they produce their first winning season since 2002. That will confirm the direction of the program and officially put Washington back on the national scene, just like Sean Parker did when he started off Signing Day 2010 by putting on that Husky hat on ESPN.

That one simple act highlighted the new direction in Husky recruiting, a process that only promises to get better as this system further establishes itself.

All of that comes with continuity, and the longer you can keep the nucleus of your staff together the better they get at recruiting. It's all about relationships, and you only build those with time and effort and sincerity, of course. When you have a head coach who understands and prioritizes recruiting it makes you even better, and it is obvious Steve Sarkisian is that sort of coach.


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