Lightning strikes. Sometimes it hits a football field. Sometimes it fries the family poodle (I miss you still, Skittles). Sometimes it electrifies the recruiting trail. And sometimes it burns a program.
UW has had more than its fair share of swings and misses on guys that very well could have been Huskies but ended up somewhere else. In the last few seasons, UW recruiting has ridden the lightning - sometimes to spectacular hits and sometimes to epic whiffs.
With 22 days left until gameday, we'd like to open the debate on what one recruit who UW danced the dance with - perhaps even landed a temporary commit - would you like to have landed for the benefit of the 2015 team. Here are the "Howling Husky Commemorative Ground Rules" for today's debate:
1. The recruit must have at one point very serious about coming to UW
2. The recruit must have current eligibility in 2015
3. The recruit must currently be playing with a D1 team somewhere in the country
Option 1: Joshua Garnett, OL, Stanford
It was supposed to happen. The three-time all-state offensive lineman from Puyallup was ranked the top recruit in the state of Washington and the #2 offensive lineman in the country. He was a five-star guy and just the kind of player that Steve Sarkisian needed to land to convince skeptical Husky fans that he could recruit the trenches. Hell, his father, Scott, was a former Husky himself.
But something never clicked for the then 6'3" 285 man-child. He never seemed to click with the Sarkisian staff and really never gave UW much of a look. Along with other in-state studs like Zach Banner and Kevairie Russel, Garnett was more intrigued with the national stage and what some other prestigious programs like Notre Dame and Michigan had to offer. He never even visited UW officially.
We all know how the story ends. Garnett, now a senior at Stanford, has grown into a 321-pound mauler as an offensive guard for the Cardinal. While he hasn't necessarily become the elite offensive tackle many expected, he's still one of the most consistent lineman you'll find in the conference. He has been a regular contributor to the Stanford offensive line since his redshirt freshman year and has been a full time starter the last year and a half.
If Sark had managed to find a way to keep Garnett home, there is little doubt that he'd be a favorite of Chris Petersen given his "OKG" demeanor. He'd give UW another building block along with Dexter Charles to stabilize what is otherwise an offensive line in a heavy state of transition. He could also have shifted to tackle and have provided UW with an offensive line that would be 100% juniors and seniors. His presence today would turn an uncertain situation in to one with, at worst, much less heartburn.
Reasons for: He's a local legend; His father was a Dawg; the irony of the situation is that he is a classic OKG
Reasons against: He was never really serious about UW; While solid, he hasn't become dominant
Option 2: John Plattenburg, S, USC
John Plattenburg, as you might recall, was a one-time commit to the UCLA but with a very close relationship to former UW DB coach Keith Hayward. Many analysts thought that UW would have shot at the Texas DB despite his Southern Cal roots and his soft commitment to the Bruins.
However, any chance that UW had at Plattenburg evaporated once Steve Sarkisian decided to move himself and most of his staff over to USC. Plattenburg, along with several other former UW targets and commits (hello Claude Pelon) made the migration with the former coach and left Chris Petersen scrambling to assemble his first class.
Of all the recruits that dropped UW following the Sark move, Plattenburg may have been the most painful. Despite his size, Plattenburg has already emerged as a starting safety for the Trojans. He doesn't really wow you with his size or his speed, but he's a versatile athlete who just seems to "get it" while he's out there. He shows good toughness and he seems as prepared as anybody even for a young player.
While UW is pretty stacked at Safety right now, Plattenburg would have been a nice fit for the Huskies both in his ability to play multiple positions and in his "gym rat" approach to the game.
Reasons for: He's a talented young player; He's versatile and can play multiple positions in the secondary
Reasons against: Secondary isn't a huge area of need; He may have had a hard time getting on the field this year
Option 3: Max Browne, QB, USC
If Joshua Garnett isn't really the "one that got away," then Max Browne surely is. The local legend starred at Skyline High School and earned himself the notoriety of becoming the #1 QB recruit in the nation his senior year. However, Browne never clicked with Steve Sarkisian or the Husky coaching staff and, instead, focused his attention at a more national scale.
He would go on to pick USC after seemingly not really considering too many other schools. At the time, there was some thinking that Browne could compete with Max Wittek and Cody Kessler to earn some early playing time. It didn't work out as Kessler took the Trojans's QB job and has had it locked down. Now going into his RS sophomore year, the 6'5" 225 lb pro style QB still projects as a two-year starter, but will have to wait one more year (assuming that he can also hold off stud recruit Ricky Town)
UW's need at QB this year - and last, for that matter - is obvious. While I wouldn't want to count out the opportunity for an upset, there is little doubt in my mind that we'd be going into his second year as a starter if Max Browne were a Husky. The irony of the whole situation is that Browne is now playing for the coach that he didn't wish to give the time of day to during his recruitment while not playing for a guy who seemingly is a better personality fit in Chris Petersen.
The Verdict: Max Browne
I don't think this one needs a ton of explanation. While I think we'd all like to see more upperclassmen offensive linemen ... and either Garnett or USC's Zach Banner would fit that bill ... a stud QB would be the difference between a decent UW team and a potentially great one this year. When you look at the status of PAC 12 quarterbacking, I'm not so sure that Browne wouldn't be considered one of the top four QBs in the league right now had he played a full season at UW last year.
Regardless, in my fantasy "re-recruiting" exercise, I'd take Max Browne as my one recruiting mulligan.
Others Considered: Zach Banner, USC; Myles Jack, UCLA; Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA; Kevaire Russel, ND; Tre Watson, Cal; Sean Harlow, OSU