Washington put a satisfying cap on a rebuilding season in 2015 with the 44-31 win over Southern Miss in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, and now it's full steam ahead on finishing off the 2016 recruiting class for the Husky coaching staff. We've still got a month+ to go until Signing Day (Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016), but it will be a busy one as Chris Petersen & Company look to finish up this recruiting class. We're in a 'dead period' until January 13th (the end of the annual AFCA Coaching Convention), but there will be the three high school all-star recruiting showcases in the meantime: the Under Armour Game (January 2nd), the Semper Fidelis Bowl (January 3rd), and the Army All-American Game (January 9th). After that, expect a flurry of official visitors over the last three weekends of January.
Perhaps the biggest question mark around recruiting this year is: how many players can the Huskies take? For most of the year, the projected target was 17 players, as that was the number that those close to the program and those involved in the recruiting process were told. But there could be more attrition than the coaching staff had originally figured, which could open up more spots.
With the announcement by Dwayne Washington that he's leaving the team to enter the NFL Draft, that appears to leave the Huskies with 16 openings. However there appears to be a good chance of at least one current QB transferring and potentially a medical retirement from the OL which would open up two more spots. And you can't rule out more attrition as players assess their standing on the depth chart and whether they want to continue here or not. Washington currently has 14 commits for the 2016 class (including Myles Rice, who greyshirted the 2015 season and is expected to enroll next month), so there's room for at least two more, but I could see them taking 18-19 guys total if the right players want to commit. They may also hold back a scholarship or two to be able to award to current players such as Connor Griffin and Michael Kneip, walk-ons who have both earned playing time.
Here's a look at the scholarship chart as we currently know it:
The players listed with an asterisk have used a redshirt; those listed in red are those we believe redshirted this season (this assumes Quinten Pounds and Austin Joyner will get medical redshirts for the season, which they should). I've shifted Dwayne Washington into the Senior column since he's declaring. As you can see from the numbers, the Huskies currently appear to be at 83 scholarships with 14 opening up due to graduation or early entry.
There's obviously some room for interpretation here - it's a bit of a guess as to who will play which positions along the OL for example, or differentiating between a DE and a BUCK or a BUCK and an OLB. But to the best of my knowledge the overall numbers are accurate, and this gives us a reasonable base from which to project how the staff might want to fill out the remainder of the 2016 class. You can also get a picture of how evenly distributed the various position groups are across classes and where the staff may look to add numbers or where they may feel like they can stand pat. It's also clear how limited they'll be with the 2017 recruiting class, as the current crop of scholarship juniors numbers just 11.
In the next article of this series, we'll take a look at the offensive side of the football and review who is currently committed and who's left on the board.