Well now, Husky fans, that was quite a whirlwind of recruiting news this past week, wasn't it? After sitting on 13 commitments since QB Daniel Bridge-Gadd added his name to the list back in mid-October, Washington added four more names in the past week (as well as sweating out a possible flip by Kentrell Love to UCLA). With 17 names now on the commitment list, the question has to be asked: Is Washington done with recruiting for the 2016 class?
The answer is...probably. There are obviously a couple of big targets out there that Washington is still pursuing in De La Salle H.S. teammates - and 4-star prospects - Devin Asiasi (TE/DE) and Boss Tagaloa (DT). They will be Signing Day decisions, and it's highly likely Washington would figure out a way to make room for either (or both) if they want to become Huskies. However, the chances of landing either one are not great. Asiasi has long been a USC lean, and with his recruiter for the Trojans (Marques Tuiasosopo) now moving to UCLA, the Bruins also have to be considered a good bet. Both just got back from a recruiting trip to Michigan, and Tagaloa was reportedly "blown away" by his visit. Washington isn't out of it - they did a great job recruiting them last weekend on their official visit to Seattle - but are not considered the favorites at this point for either.
What about other possible targets out there? Stanford has made some waves recently with a couple of their commits (OL Nate Herbig, RB/LB Beau Bisharat) being told they hadn't met admissions standards and being forced to scramble for offers. Herbig had tentatively been scheduled to visit Washington this coming weekend, but it sounds like that's been scrapped and the Huskies aren't pursuing him any longer. He visited Cal this past weekend with his H.S. teammate (and Cal commit) Drew Kobayashi, and in another twist found out as he left for his visit that Stanford has now admitted him. Word is Bisharat has reached out to a number of schools (Washington was one he liked prior to his Stanford commitment) but was told they don't have room. In the case of the Huskies, my read is that Kamari Pleasant got the spot that could have gone to Bisharat had he opened up his recruitment sooner.
What about Jonathan Kongbo, you ask? Good question - at this point the Huskies appear to be out of the running as he trimmed his list to four: Tennessee, USC, Ole Miss and Florida State. Given the way his recruitment has blown up and how all over the map he's been, it seems clear he's a bit overwhelmed by the process. The chances that he'd circle back around to Washington are likely quite low at this point, but he has visited with his family and the proximity might end up really appealing to him as he deals with the pressure of this decision. The question then would be if Washington makes room for him. You'd think so given his enormous potential, but with Levi Onwuzurike now committed, the need isn't as great. It's probably a moot point, however.
So where does that leave this class? Recall from an earlier article that we figured there are currently 16 openings on the 85-man scholarship roster limit, but with the possibility of more attrition coming there could be room for up to 18-19 new players. With 17 current commits, the Huskies will need at least one more current player to retire or transfer, and Asiasi and Tagaloa would push that number to three. It's likely that the staff could have figured out a way to make room for Herbig or Bisharat, but didn't feel strongly enough for either to preclude the possibility of being able to take the De La Salle duo.
Are these commits solid?
Another question that will be asked is "How solid are each of these commitments?" The general answer is "very." The way that Petersen approaches recruiting is such that recruits that commit to him do so after careful consideration and not on impulse. He counsels players to hold off committing during official visits and to go home, sleep on things, talk it over with their family and other trusted advisers, and then make a decision. He wants a commitment from a player to Washington to mean just that - a commitment, not just a way of saying "this is my current favorite school."
That said, of course there are some commitments that are more vulnerable to being flipped than others. Kentrell Love faced a lot of pressure from his family to at least consider one of the local schools by taking an official visit, and he did so two weekends ago to UCLA. But Husky fans breathed a sigh of relief when he returned from that visit and reaffirmed his commitment to Washington, and took his official visit to Seattle this past weekend. Now, he could still face a lot of pressure from other coaches to look around - USC wanted Byron Murphy badly, and they may try to put the heat on Love and his family to give them a look before Signing Day.
Murphy himself was a bit of a surprise commit to Washington - while the Huskies had been doing well with him for a long time, most of the recent buzz had Arizona State leading for him. He told reporters that he didn't come to a final decision until the morning of his announcement, and word is the Husky coaching staff thought they were going to lose out on him. It would shock nobody if ASU continues to pursue Murphy to try to flip him. With his good buddies N'Keal Harry and Chase Lucas committed to the Sun Devils, they may try to work that angle to get Murphy on board.
Will Washington flip any commits from other schools?
Probably not - as noted above, the number situation is tight, and with the Huskies politely declining interest in Herbig and Bisharat due to the numbers crunch, it would seem that unless it's an elite player, they are done for this class. Now, that would likely change in the unlikely event one of their own commits flips. However one thing to keep an eye on is the Murphy situation - while he could be a candidate to flip to ASU with his buddy Harry, the reverse is also possible. Don't discount the potential for the Husky coaching staff to reach out to Harry to see just how solidly he's committed to the Sun Devils. While they got their second WR commit this week in Jordan Chin, I have little doubt that Harry would be considered too good to turn down if they can get him.
So how does this class shape up?
It's been noted in a number of articles and comments lately, but it bears repeating: as currently assembled, Washington's 2016 recruiting class has an average star rating of 3.47 per Scout.com. That ranks 18th in the nation and tied for second with Oregon in the Pac-12 behind USC (3.92). The 247Sports ratings are not quite as favorable; in their system the Husky commits average a rating of 87.26. That places them 6th in the conference behind USC, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, and ASU. Rivals also places Washington's class 6th behind the same teams.
So depending on which rating system you most trust, this class is either of very high quality or more middle of the Pac. Given Petersen's track record for identifying talent, I'd lean toward the former, but we'll see in a few years. Another thing to take note of is the positional balance. As a reminder, here's the commitment list:
So that's eight players on offense (Pleasant will get first crack at RB), eight on defense, and one kicking specialist. The only area that wasn't addressed (so far) is DT, and some may grumble at only taking two OL. There are also concerns about not landing any of the top-level WR prospects given how loaded that group was in the West this recruiting cycle - we'll have to see how well new WR Coach Bush Hamdan does with the 2017 crop and how his current players progress.
For a class of limited size, this is a really nice balance of positions and filled with quality prospects. Players like Camilo Eifler, Luke Wattenberg, Sean McGrew, Murphy, Love, and Onwuzurike speak to Coach Petersen's ability to attract coveted out-of-state recruits with his "Built For Life" approach, and players like Brandon Wellington, Taylor Rapp, Isaiah Gilchrist, and Amandre Williams speak to his ability to keep local talent from leaving the state.
One final note - the Husky coaching staff met with O'Dea DT Tiano Tialavea this past week and he received a preferred walk-on offer. Tialavea entered his senior season as a player of interest for many programs but without a D1 offer. When he broke his foot and missed most of the season it was a terrible blow to his hopes of getting a scholarship offer. Given his size (6'3", 340 lbs) and potential, he'd be a terrific coup as a walk-on. He's also received a preferred walk-on offer from WSU and Oregon has been talking with him. He probably won't make his decision until after Signing Day as he sorts through any possible late offers from programs like Montana and Montana State. He could also get a last-minute offer from a lower-tier FBS program as those coaches sort through the dust from Signing Day and try to fill out their classes. He's worth keeping an eye on - the Huskies might be fortunate enough to land a quality walk-on prospect to help address the lack of a true DT recruit in this class.