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Pac-12 Football Recruiting Profiles: Washington Huskies

It’s finally here

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Penn State vs Washington Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the final edition of a series profiling the recruiting trends and habits of each team in the Pac-12 conference over the past 5 seasons. That includes the 2014-2018 classes ending with the incoming freshmen for this upcoming season.

The data I used does not include every single offer and commit for every program but it does include the vast majority. The cuts I made were deliberate. To see more information about what specifically is in the data set and an explanation of any metrics I used, please check out this article here which has all of the information you could want and more.

You can also look at the previous editions profiling: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Stanford, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Oregon State, USC, and Washington State. With that out of the way, let’s go in-depth with our beloved Washington Huskies.

Program Overview

The Huskies were in an extremely dark place a decade ago which saw them reach rock bottom by the end of the Willingham era. Steve Sarkisian, who was known as a young and enthusiastic recruiter, was brought in to infuse Washington with talent and he mostly succeeded. However, wins didn’t follow at quite the rate the talent would suggest and UW lucked out when USC hired Sark and the Dawgs swooped in to hire Chris Petersen as his replacement.

Petersen’s first season looked a lot like Sark’s as there was a clear shift in culture that rubbed some players the wrong way which led to an 8-6 record. Year two saw a step back in wins at 7-6 but the Huskies were competitive in almost every game and looked like they were on the cusp of breaking through. That happened a year early in 2016 as Washington went from media darkhorse to front runner with a Pac-12 title and appearance in the College Football Playoff where they fell to Alabama. Hopes were high in 2017 but a number of injuries particularly at corner and receiver kept the Huskies from back to back division titles. Still, Washington won 10 games and earned a trip to a New Year’s 12 bowl.

There were early concerns by some that Coach Pete wouldn’t be able to recruit at a Pac-12 level following a stint at Boise State where he was renowned for turning 2-star players into NFL talent. It took a couple years for Washington to build up its recruiting momentum but especially with the 2018 class, Petersen has the Huskies up there as a conference recruiting power.

General Recruiting Statistics

Average Offer: 3.61 stars, 0.903 composite rating (5th in conference)

Average Commit: 3.38 stars, 0.879 composite rating (5th in conference)

Average # of Offers: 108 (11th in conference)

Recruiting Style: Offers- Selective, Quality- High Roller

Washington has modeled their recruiting approach off of Stanford by playing hard to get and consequently making a UW offer actually mean something. The number of Husky offers has dropped from 117 in 2016, to 100 in 2017, and just 83 last year. Unsurprisingly, the average rating of a player they both offered and signed has also risen each of those years. While the Dawgs are 5th over the last 5 years, they were 2nd behind only USC in 2018 in the average rating of their signed commits. That trend bodes well for the Huskies moving forward.

Best Recruiting Win: Class of 2014 Budda Baker, ATH. 4 stars, 0.9741 composite rating.

I was tempted to go with one of the defensive studs in the class of 2018 but there’s a reason that Baker’s recruitment has been cited as the turning point for the Husky program. Budda played at Bellevue High and was committed to Oregon before flipping and joining Coach Pete’s inaugural class at Washington. He’s still the highest rated player by 24/7 composite rating that Washington has signed under Petersen despite their recent success and he lived up to the high billing. Baker was an all-conference player for Washington, went early in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft, and was named a pro bowler as a rookie.

Worst Recruiting Loss: Class of 2017 Marlon Tuipulotu, DT. 4 stars, 0.972.

When the Huskies got an April commitment from the Oregon DT it was clear that he was a sleeper that would make a major jump in the recruiting rankings as his senior season went along. That came to fruition and the Huskies appeared to have a steal and their most highly ranked D-lineman recruit in years. But then whispers started that USC was trying to push their way in and Marlon officially made the switch to the Trojans 9 days before signing day.

The late change of heart left UW with no chance to find a viable backup option and has led to several years of worry about the hole on the depth chart at DT. The whole process felt very sudden which was reinforced by rumors that the flip was helped along by Marlon’s brother finding a job from a USC booster. Unfortunately, Marlon didn’t get to play much in his freshman year and had season-ending back surgery which kept him out through spring practices.

Recruiting Map Profile

UW Offers 2014-2018

The Huskies know that most of the talent on the West Coast is found in California and they go and get it. Nearly half of their offers (45.6%) and commitments (45.3%) come from there. Texas gets the next highest chunk of the offers at 15% followed by the smaller West Coast talent beds of Washington, Arizona, and Utah. The Huskies extend only 5% of their offers to the Southeast hotbed of Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. No other Pac-12 program is below 15%.

UW Commits 2014-2018

Highest Success States

Washington: +22.07%, Oregon: +3.54%, Idaho: +1.86%

This is what building a fence around your state looks like. The Huskies have offered 40 WA recruits above a 0.82 rating and have signed 70% of them. Washington missed out on the only two 5-star prospects in this time in OT Foster Sarell (Stanford) and QB Jacob Eason (Georgia) but the latter ended up at UW anyways as a transfer. The only other true miss was Connor Wedington who flipped from UW to Stanford.

Otherwise, the players with a 0.9 composite rating or above who didn’t end up at Montlake were Tre’Shaun Harrison, who the coaching staff clearly soured on/didn’t prioritize, and Brett Rypien who was a QB in the same class as Jake Browning and most Husky fans are ok with the way that turned out. Here’s a look at the relative fence that other Pac-12 programs have been able to build around their states.

Commitment % for Pac-12 Home State Prospects (2014-2018)

Rank School Home State Commit %
Rank School Home State Commit %
1 Washington 70.00%
2 Colorado 50.00%
3 Oregon 40.00%
4 Stanford 39.66%
5 USC 36.80%
6 Utah 33.87%
7 Arizona State 32.14%
8 Oregon State 27.03%
9 UCLA 26.69%
10 Arizona 26.32%
11 Washington State 25.53%
12 California 16.33%

Unsurprisingly the top 3 are all public schools that are unquestionably the football power within their own state. That’s followed by the two recruiting powers in the conference who are both in California and have to fight over the top tier of recruits. Then we have Utah and Arizona State who are both probably the recruiting powers in their state but have serious competition in BYU and Arizona.

Lowest Success States

Texas: -11.47%, Hawaii: -2.59%, Arizona: -2.09%

This has been a question for a few years but the returns from Texas to this point haven’t appeared to merit the resources spent. Washington offered 79 prospects from the state of Texas in the last 5 years and have signed just 3 of them (Levi Onwuzurike, Victor Curne, and Aaron Fuller). It looks like the staff may have come to the same conclusion to scale things back as well. They offered 31 Texas prospects in 2016 and no more than 13 in any other year. The Huskies have made Hawaii a major focus in 2019 and already have a pair of commits from the islands so this list would change if done a year from now. But the truth is that Washington had 0 commits from Hawaii from 2014-2017 before getting one last year.

Out of Conference Profile

Non-Conference Rival: Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 45.83%.

It was surprisingly difficult to find someone for this category but Notre Dame is definitely the best option. The Irish hold a 13-11 advantage over Washington and the only reason it’s that close was UW’s phenomenal 2018 class. From 2014-2017 it would’ve been 12-6 to Notre Dame but Washington went 5-1 going up against them last year to make it a fairly even fight (losing on Jack Lamb but getting Tuli, Kaho, Irvin, Gordon, and Taimani).

Non-Conference Big Brother: Texas Longhorns, 13.33%.

We end this series with yet another slaughter at the hands of the Longhorns. There are only 15 instances of a player having offers from UW or Texas that chooses one of those schools but 13 of them wound up in Austin. Neither of the two prospects Washington was able to get (Byron Murphy, and Ale Kaho) were from Texas. It appears the trend is continuing in 2019 as the Huskies were considered a favorite for Texan DE Peter Mpagi but he committed on the spot when presented with a Texas offer.

Non-Conference Little Brother: Boise State Broncos, 85.29%.

It’s sort of understandable that some people were concerned about Chris Petersen’s ability to recruit 4-star kids at UW given that he hadn’t done it at Boise. But it’s become evident that Petersen at UW is several tiers above even Petersen himself on the blue turf. Unsurprisingly, no program has had more concurrent offers with Washington than Boise and the Huskies hold a 29-5 edge in getting commitments from those players. The only 4-star that Boise got was QB Brett Rypien who UW moved on from after getting Jake Browning.

Washington Pac-12 Recruiting Win % (2014-2018)

Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
2014 14.04% 5
2015 17.12% 3
2016 11.32% 5
2017 16.49% 2
2018 24.39% 2
Overall 16.27% 3

It has to be mentioned that Washington gets aided in these metrics by their selectivity. If you only extend offers to players who you prioritize then you’ll do better in this category. That said, Washington has risen to one of the conference’s recruiting elites. The 2018 number is astounding and was less than one percentage point behind Stanford in 1st place. That number essentially means that last year Washington got a commitment from 1 of every 4 players they offered that had at least one other Pac-12 offer. Not too shabby.

Washington Weighted Pac-12 Recruiting Win % (2014-2018)

Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
2014 37.67% 6
2015 48.09% 5
2016 33.96% 4
2017 68.89% 3
2018 112.66% 1
Overall 60.26% 3

And yet by the weighted numbers Washington’s 2018 class looks even more impressive. Part of this is due to the Huskies’ recruiting footprint. Because they don’t offer a ton of guys away from the West Coast, they also don’t sign a lot of players that only have one or two Pac-12 offers. 12 of Washington’s 20 commitments last year had an offer from at least half of the conference. That combined with their exclusivity in handing out offers propelled them to the top of the charts.

2019 Early Outlook and Beyond

2019 UW Offers

After last year’s fantastic class there’s more than a little disappointment among the fan base that the Huskies haven’t dominated the early recruiting period in quite the same way. Washington has 10 spots filled out of the 20-22 that they will end up taking so they’re almost halfway done with the class. And Dylan Morris who has been committed since last year is the only player who has a composite rating greater than 0.9. Adding to the sting is the fact that four high 4-star players who were seen as Washington leans early in the process (Sean Dollars, Jeremiah Criddell, Mykael Wright, and Josh Delgado) all have chosen to go to Oregon.

First, remember that despite your protestations, it is in fact early in the recruiting process. Last season on this date the Huskies had 9 commitments. This year it’s 10. The average recruit was higher at this point but that difference is essentially that we got an extra QB and we got Spiker early. I have a feeling that if we had one high 4-star WR (Joe Ngata anyone?) in the boat right now the level of panic would go down several notches.

Another part of the change in feel between this year and last year is the relative weakness of the recruiting class in-state. Last year there were 10 players from Washington with a composite rating of 0.85 or higher and the Huskies signed 5 of them. This year there are only 6 and the Huskies have only offered 3. The 2020 and 2021 classes are setting up to be among the strongest in the history of Washington so if the Huskies can keep the state on lockdown in future classes they’ll be set up for huge success.

The lack of Washington talent means the Huskies have had to essentially find a replacement state. In 2019 that has been Hawaii where the Dawgs have returned in force to restore the Hawaiian pipeline. UW has commitments from Sama Paama (0.886 composite) and Miki Ah You (0.849 composite) already and also have offers out to another 5 islanders. The Huskies are rumored to be among if not the favorite for 5-star DT Faatui Tuitele and 4 star OT Julius Buelow and are also in the hunt for 4-star OT Enokk Vimahi and ILB Maninoa Tufono.

And on top of the general “There’s a long way to go” talk, there’s also the exciting question of what will it do should Washington get back to the College Football Playoff? It’s certainly not a given but man is it thrilling to imagine Petersen being able to sell a victory over Auburn and a 2nd trip to the CFP in 3 years to recruits leading into the early signing period. That could very easily be the final push that gets some 4 and 5-star players into the basket.

The Huskies may not have a 2-deep chock full of 5-star athletes like some of the blue bloods against which they’re now competing but they do have one of if not the most stacked QB rooms in the country. And if you could pick one area to have incredible depth to keep the program among the elite, that would be it. The Huskies aren’t going anywhere and while they may not get to the heights in recruiting that Stanford and USC have gotten to in the last 5 seasons they also aren’t going to be far behind.

You can follow me @UWDP_maxvroom