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2021 West Region Recruiting Breakdown: Offense

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How strong or weak is the 2021 football recruiting class in the West region for each offensive position?

NCAA Football: Utah at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

This week 247 updated their rankings for the class of 2021 after reviewing junior year tape as well as attending the first few events of the 7v7 circuit for the year. Now that the major services have gone through an update it means we should have a pretty decent idea of the premier talent in the region and the country. There will still be plenty of moving players up and down the rankings but from this point on there aren’t going to be very many prospects that move from unranked to 4-star status.

In order to get a sense for whether this is a “strong” year out West for any given position I decided to go back and evaluate the # and % of recruits in the Western region at each position grouping. Some quick caveats. I consider the West to be any state with a Pac-12 school in it plus Alaska, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming. The historical numbers go back to the class of 2016.

I also grouped prospects by 0.85+ and 0.93+ as far as their rating in the 247 Sports Composite. There are approximate ranges but anyone with an 85 grade is someone Washington would at least consider from a talent standpoint and a 93 is where you start to get into elite prospect, top-200 overall territory. We will have probably another 300 or so prospects that play themselves into a 0.85 or higher rating across the country but we’re essentially already at the number of players who normally reach a 0.93 or higher rating.

In parentheses are the position listings in the 247 database which I grouped into the category for ones that have multiple. A final reminder that the averages are based on the final ranking sets and not a comparable point on the calendar. That’s going to throw off the comparison on the absolute numbers but shouldn’t affect the percentages all that much.

Quarterback (PRO+DUEL)

Class of 2021- 10 of 47 (21.3%) at 0.85+; 5 of 15 (33.3%) at 0.93+

Historical Average- 17 of 62 (27.3%) at 0.85+; 5 of 10.4 (48.1%) at 0.93+

At least for right now there’s a lower number of good quarterbacks out West but the top crust is as good as it has been in recent years. The difference is mainly that there are more top level QBs outside of the region. Only the 2018 class in the last 5 years has had more total QBs at a 0.93 or better rating. That’s also the only time in that span when we’ve seen more than 5 such QBs out West.

The numbers also show just how dominant the West is in providing the country with premier quarterback talent. Nearly half of the guys who would be considered able to step in and start from day one are from inside the region. And yet only 2 of the 5 from last year stayed within the Pac-12 footprint.

UW Targets: Sam Huard- 5*, 0.9921 rating; Burien, WA. Committed to Washington

Washington has had their QB in the class wrapped up for almost a year and a half with Huard. He’s rated as the #1 pro passer in the country. Jake Garcia is right behind him and a USC commit although this time last year the Trojans had a commitment from eventual #1 overall player Bryce Young before he flipped to Alabama. Notre Dame has also already come in and taken another of the elite out of California in Tyler Bucher. Clay Millen, son of former UW QB Hugh and brother of Oregon QB Cale, also made a solid rise up the rankings recently and would be a great option for UW in most years if not for the presence of Huard.

Running Back (RB+APB)

Class of 2021- 5 of 67 (7.5%) at 0.85+; 1 of 11 (9.1%) at 0.93+

Historical Average- 10 of 75 (13.3%) at 0.85+; 1.8 of 12.8 (14.1%) at 0.93+

Oof. It’s pretty clear that this a major down year at running back in the West which made it important for UW to pick up both Jay’veon Sunday and Sam Adams in the 2020 class. The Huskies also added multiple 3-star walk-ons at the position which might tell you how they feel about this year’s crop. This is the lowest percentage of 0.85+ prospects at the position since 2016 and needs to have another 3-4 such players emerge over the next year to not have that title. There’s only one elite back but no one close to a 5-star player which is mostly unusual although 2018 had 0 players at a 0.93+. Washington ended up with Richard Newton in that class who appears to be turning out all right.

UW Targets: Byron Cardwell- 4*, 0.9060 rating; San Diego, CA

Washington has offered 3 players at the position but don’t appear to be among the favorites right now for a pair of backs from Texas. The Dawgs are firmly in the mix for Cardwell but he recently picked up an offer from LSU which will be hard to ignore. The only 0.93+ player in the region is already committed to Oregon and Cardwell is next on this list which means you can expect heavy competition from the rest of the region. The two next players that didn’t make the 0.85+ cut off are also from the West including one who is in-state so if Washington misses on Cardwell they could drop down to that tier with guys who still might get to 4-star status by the end of their senior season if they continue to develop.

Wide Receiver (WR)

Class of 2021- 13 of 120 (10.8%) at 0.85+; 4 of 28 (14.3%) at 0.93+

Historical Average- 20.6 of 136.6 (15.1%) at 0.85+; 5.4 of 27.8 (19.4%) at 0.93+

Another position that is having a relative down year in the region at about 4-5% less than normal. We can expect that a number of players listed as athletes eventually are given the wide receiver designation which will change this a little bit. But there were also 28 elite level receivers last season (same as right now) and 7 of them were from the West in 2020 compared to 4 this year. That part is unlikely to change. However that might not be a fair comparison since 2020 was the best year for elite WR talent out West out of any of the past 5 classes.

UW Targets: Emeka Egbuka- 5*, 0.9939 rating; Steilacoom, WA. Troy Franklin- 5*, 0.9857 rating; Menlo Park, CA. Jabez Tinae- 4*, 0.9124 rating; Burien, WA. Junior Alexander- 4*, 0.8975 rating; Burien, WA.

It may be a down year on the West coast in general for receivers but that shouldn’t have any kind of negative effect on the Huskies. 3 of the top 56 WRs in the country are in-state including a pair that play with Sam Huard in high school. Then of course there’s Emeka Egbuka who is the top receiver in the country and can go absolutely anywhere he wants. The Huskies have also made a big impression on Troy Franklin from California and are among his leaders as well. There will only be one opening through graduation at this position but it seems unlikely the Huskies take any fewer than 2 even if they ultimately miss out on Egubka and Franklin.

Tight End (TE)

Class of 2021- 6 of 27 (22.2%) at 0.85+; 3 of 6 (50.0%) at 0.93+

Historical Average- 8 of 45.8 (17.5%) at 0.85+; 1.2 of 4.8 (25.0%) at 0.93+

We’ve done it. We’ve found a position where the West is particularly deep this year. This appears to be the best crop of TEs out West since the 2017 class which featured Cade Otton and Hunter Bryant at UW as well as Colby Parkinson at Stanford. That is also the only other year since 2016 when there has been more than one elite tight end in the region.

UW Targets: Brock Bowers- 4*, 0.9687 rating; Napa, CA. Moliki Matavao- 4*, 0.9384 rating; Henderson, NV. Jermaine Terry- 4*, 0.9372 rating; Richmond, CA. Terrance Ferguson- 4*, 0.9012 rating; Littleton, CO.

This will be a big first test for new Washington TE coach Derham Cato as he’ll need to make up ground to land at least 2 of the above bunch. The Huskies also have an offer out to a pair of 3/4 star players out of Texas. The Huskies were seen as a favorite early in the process for Moliki Matavao but that appears less certain now. Landing at least one of the California duo of Bowers and Terry would make it a nice haul and a 2nd player out of their current offer list would just be gravy.

Offensive Line (OT+OG+OC)

Class of 2021- 16 of 106 (15.1%) at 0.85+; 2 of 28 (7.1%) at 0.93+

Historical Average- 22 of 149.7 (14.7%) at 0.85+; 3.6 of 25.6 (14.1%) at 0.93+

This has the makings of a slightly deeper than normal offensive line class out West but one that is missing the normal levels of premium talent. Only 2016 was this low in elite level players when Jonah Williams went to Alabama out of Folsom High and there were essentially no other tackles from the West who emerged. The Huskies that year managed to bring in Luke Wattenberg who was the second ranked guard in the region but pickings were generally slim.

UW Targets: Bram Walden- 4*, 0.9452 rating; Scottsdale, AZ. Owen Prentice- 4*, 0.9197 rating; Seattle, WA. Jonah Miller- 4*, 0.9053 rating; Tucson, AZ. Mason Murphy- 4*, 0.8689 rating; San Juan Capistrano, CA. Kuao Peihopa- 3*, 0.8638 rating; Honolulu, HI.

The Huskies had a phenomenal 2020 offensive line class which means they can survive the lack of high end talent in the region along the lines of Myles Murao. Owen Prentice is the must get as the local product and if they can get any other player on the above list it will be a solid in between class. The only opening due to graduation is from the aforementioned Wattenberg although Jaxson Kirkland could easily jump early with another great season. Expect competition to be fierce for all of the players listed, especially if some of the major powers out East are able to come in and snipe one or two of them to leave the Pac-12 scrambling.

OVERALL OFFENSE

Class of 2021- 50 of 367 (13.6%) at 0.85+; 15 of 88 (17.0%) at 0.93+

Historical Average- 77.6 of 469.6 (16.5%) at 0.85+; 17 of 81.4 (20.9%) at 0.93+

This shouldn’t be a surprise considering how many positions I listed as being “down” in the article above but it’s officially not a great year for offensive talent in the region. Luckily for the Huskies, where that doesn’t apply however is to the state of Washington. There are currently 8 players on the offensive side of the ball of at least a 0.85 in the ratings. That’s already more than any class since 2016. And we should expect that at least another 3 will be added by the time the rankings are finalized.

In addition to the players already mentioned throughout the article there are also a pair of offensive linemen, Jacob Schuster and Koli Faaiu, who have a 0.86 rating and could pick potentially pick up offers following the Dirt Dawgs camp depending on how UW is doing with their other targets. Egbuka is the remaining crown jewel but if Washington ends up with Huard, Tinae, Alexander, and Prentice then it would be likely the best offensive in-state class in the school’s history.