With the commitment of QB Jake Haener, UW now has 10 known commits for the class of 2017. That's quite a bit considering that there are still over 7 months until signing day. It's also a lot considering that this will likely be a relatively small recruiting class, given that there are only 10 graduating scholarship seniors.
Here's a review of the committed players:
- QB: Jake Haener
- RB: Connor Wedington
- WR: Terrell Bynum, Alex Cook, Ty Jones
- TE: Hunter Bryant
- DL: Marlon Tuipulotu
- LB: Ariel Ngata
- CB: Keith Taylor
- P: Joel Whitford
Next, let's look at the players that UW will be losing:
- TE: Darrell Daniels, Jeff Lindquist
- OL: Jake Eldrenkamp, Shane Brostek
- DL: Damion Turpin
- OLB: Joe Mathis, Psalm Wooching
- S: Brandon Beaver
- CB: Kevin King
- K: Cameron Van Winkle
Now let's look at each position group to see what holes are still left to be filled:
QB: There are currently 4 QBs on the roster; Haener will make 5 for the class of 2017. No question that this position is now set.
RB: There are currently 3 RBs on the roster with 2 more coming in next month to give them 5. All should be back in 2017, so they should be okay with the addition of Wedington. However, I think that there would still be room for someone like Salvon Ahmed to add some depth.
WR: Even with the loss of Isaiah Renfro, UW has 7 scholarship WRs, plus 2 more coming in next month. And all 9 should be back in 2017. That, along with the 3 committed WRs, should give UW plenty of depth at this position. I'm not expecting any more.
TE: UW currently has 4 players at the TE position that will be back in 2017, including Will Dissly; plus they add another one in a month for a total of 5. Bryant brings that to 6, so UW should be good at that position. (I've heard that UW is no longer pursuing Jimmy Jaggers, further indicating that they are done with the TE position for now.)
OL: UW has 10 offensive linemen that will be returning in 2017, plus 2 more that are coming in next month. So right now they'll have 12 for 2017. And while only 2 are losing eligibility, remember that Dane Crane had to retire, and Cory Fuavai decided not to come back for his last year of eligibility. This is the biggest hole right now for 2017 as I think that Strausser would like to have 15, so Petersen needs to get 3. Note that Strausser has said that he'd like to take 3 each class, further indicating that they would probably like 3. (We can talk about who those 3 could be later.)
DL: There are currently at 10 defensive linemen, plus one coming in next month. UW will lose one after this year, but already they have one in the 2017 class, so they appear set. A couple of things might change things here. First is if Qualls decided to leave for the NFL early. The other is if Dissly gets moved permanently to TE. So while UW appears to be set here, I wouldn't be too surprised to see another DL added by signing day.
OLB: This is a hard position to know for sure since it is a bit fluid between DL, OLB, and LB. Currently UW lists 6 players at the OLB position; two of which will be leaving after the 2016 season. Ngata probably projects to this position, which means that there is probably room for one more. I think that this is why UW is pursuing a couple of guys that project as edge rushers (like Gumbs).
LB: There are 8 returning LBs, plus 2 more coming in next month. All could be back for 2017, so UW may be okay. But it's also possible that someone like Bartlett could slide over to the OLB position, so it wouldn't surprise me if UW added another LB in the 2017 class. However, it may be an either/or situation; get a player that projects as a OLB, or a LB and slide an existing LB over to OLB. There may not be room for both.
S: UW currently has 6 safeties. At least one will not be returning in 2017. If Baker leaves early for the NFL, as some are speculating, that would mean that UW could use 2 in the 2017 class. UW currently has no commits for 2017, so this is the other hole. It could be that one or more of the cornerbacks could get moved over to safety, but I'd still expect at least one safety in the 2017 class.
CB: UW has 6 returning cornerbacks and 3 more coming in next month. They will be losing at least one. If Jones leaves early for the NFL, again as some are speculating, that would mean losing 2. Even if UW loses 2, they should be okay in 2017 with the ones they will have and the one currently committed player. But I wouldn't be shocked to see them add one more if there is room, either because one will be sliding over to safety, or because they just want the depth at that position.
Specialist: There are 4 specialists on the team, a kicker, punter, long snapper, and a kicker/punter. One of the kickers will be gone after 2016, but they already have a commitment for a punter who will be joining the team in January; so they appear set. The only question appears to be how they will handle having both Soderberg and Whitford (both recruited as punters) both for probably 3 years; but that's a topic for another conversation.
Summary of the holes
As I pointed out above, the big hole is at the offensive line position. Fortunately UW is doing well with 4 or 5 top offensive line recruits. However, those guys are being heavily recruited by schools all over the country. It seems unlikely that UW will pull in 3 of those 5. So, I would expect that UW is currently scouting other offensive line prospects. However, we may not see more offers go out until after they see what happens with those 5.
Safety is the next biggest hole from what I can see. Fortunately UW seems to be doing well with a couple of top prospects.
Lastly is the LB/OLB position. It appears that UW could use another for the 2017 class.
With the current commitments, UW appears set at the other positions. However, there might be a need for another DL, and another RB might be needed to add some depth. Another cornerback is also a possibility, especially if they can get a very good one.
What about numbers?
We can't talk about recruiting without mentioning numbers. There are two numbers of interest.
The first is the number of recruits that can be signed in a year. That number is 25. For 2017, UW should be well under that number, so it should not be a factor.
The other number is the total number of scholarships. This number will be important for the signing class of 2017. By my count, UW is currently at 84 scholarships. As mentioned above, 10 scholarship players will lose their eligibility after the 2016 season. There is also the chance that 2 or 3 players may leave early for the NFL. So that means that UW would have room to sign between 11 and 14 scholarship players. There is usually some level of attrition, either due to injury, lack of interest in football, or desire to play at a different school. Projecting that is difficult for those of us not directly involved with the team. But under Petersen, this number has been relatively low, so I would not expect more than 2 or 3. That would mean that they would have room to sign between 13 and 17 players. For now, I'm splitting the difference and am using 15 as the number of scholarships that will be available. (I know that the Dawgman guys are projecting 17; they could be right, but for now I'm being conservative.)
Comparing holes with numbers
UW has 10 commitments for the 2017 class. And I project that they need at least 5 more players to fill the holes (3 OL, one safety, and one OLB/LB). That would put them right at my target of 15 signees for 2017. But there might also be at least a couple of other players that they would want to take (a DL, another safety, another RB, or another cornerback). Could they fit them in? Sure; there are several possibilities that would allow that to happen. They could be expecting more attrition or early entries to the NFL than I have been assuming. They could possibly go with 2 offensive linemen instead of 3 (which I know would disappoint some fans, especially given the number of quality offensive linemen in the west this year), or no additional LB or no safety. Or, they could get one or more players to greyshirt. However, there aren't a lot of options for good greyshirt candidates. The most likely would be a couple of the WR's like Cook or Jones; Ngata might be the only other option. In other words, it may not be easy trying to fit in players other than the ones where I've identified holes.
UW is in good shape right now with recruiting for the class of 2017. I'd say "very good shape" if they had at least one offensive lineman. But it is good enough that the staff should be able to spend a lot of their 2017 recruiting effort on getting the few remaining positions filled for 2017, mainly the offensive linemen. It will, however, be a bit tricky to keep from going over the total scholarship limit in 2017. If UW gets commitments from more than 15 recruits, then you can expect either a little higher attrition or some possible greyshirts.
One final note is that while it appears that most of the positions are already filled, you may hear about recruits at those filled positions still being recruited by UW and taking visits. I would guess that in most cases, these are contingencies in case something happens like a committed recruit changes his mind or gets injured. That can also be used to maintain good relationships with their schools and their teammates. This is especially true this summer when the visits are unofficial (the recruit pays for the trip). I would not expect official visits by anyone other than currently committed players, offensive line recruits, and a few defensive players.