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Head-to-Head Recruiting Battles: Big 10

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How has Washington performed recruiting against the best of the Big 10?

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl Game-Ohio State vs Washington Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

It’s March now which means spring football is on the horizon but not quite here yet. We can normally rely on recruiting to keep us preoccupied when away from actual football news but we’re in a bit of a lull between the major 7v7 tournaments and when high school juniors start taking official visits.

To fill the time this is going to be the first in a couple of series I’ll be putting out there using historical recruiting data. I finally finished building out my recruiting database from 2014-2020 which means there’s a ton of fun and interesting ways for me to slice and dice the data. After the NFL Draft I’ll start putting out some analysis on the biggest overachievers and underachievers in player development.

Now though it’s time to look at Washington’s success going up against the best from every conference around the country. Starting in a matter of paragraphs we’ll take a look at the 3 biggest recruiting rivals in each conference and how the Huskies have fared going head to head in the Chris Petersen era.

There are a couple of key numbers for each program. The first will be the number of total commitments that each program landed that had offers from both. That informs their head-to-head percentage (H2H%) which is the percent of prospects each school lands out of the total that ended up at either program. Usually most players end up somewhere other than those two schools though so the listed overall percentage is the number of commits divided by the total number of players with offers from each school.

For Washington’s section I list how many commitments the Huskies have gotten from outside the West region that also have an offer from the other school. Conversely I also list how many players that school has gotten a commitment from inside the West region that also have an offer from Washington. Finally the average rating is the average of the 247 Sports composite rating for each player that signs with each school.

To start things off we’ll look at the Pac-12’s Rose Bowl partners: the Big 10. All 15 of them...

Ohio State Buckeyes

Washington commits- 10, average rating 0.9344, H2H 45.5%, Overall 7.5%

Notable Recruits: Sam Adams II, Faatui Tuitele, Ty Jones

Commits Outside West Region: 0/54

Ohio State commits- 12, average rating 0.9611, H2H 54.5%, Overall 8.9%

Notable Recruits: Enokk Vimahi, Tommy Togiai, Gee Scott Jr.

Commits Inside West Region: 8/80

It’s clear right now that Ohio State is one of the 4 major recruiting powers in the country along with Alabama, Clemson, and Georgia. The 2021 class will be the biggest test yet with the Buckeyes coming hard after a pair of Seattle-area 5-star prospects in WR Emeka Egbuka and DT J.T Tuimoluau.

Looking at the past though it’s clear that it has been rough sledding for the Huskies when there’s an Ohio State offer in the mix (the results haven’t been great on the field either). Washington’s offer profile means they rarely go after anyone away from the West region but unsurprisingly they haven’t been able to land anyone out of region that has a chance to head to Ohio State.

Things have been markedly better over the last several years as Washington’s only 2 wins during the 14-17 recruiting classes were for Byron Murphy and Ty Jones and Jones was offered very late in the process after he was already committed to Washington. Since then the battle has been much more even with a slight 8 to 6 edge in overall commitments for UW and a fairly equal prospect rating.

It may be slightly surprising but USC actually has more commitments for OSU/UW offers than either school as they have 16 with an average rating of nearly 0.97. Both Washington and Ohio State have tended to offer the cream of the crop in the West region and before the last 2 seasons those recruits generally ended up at USC.

Feature Battle: DT Tommy Togiai- 4 stars, 0.9721 composite rating. Pocatello, Idaho

247’s Steve Wiltfong had this to say about Togiai’s recruitment about 3 weeks before he ultimately committed to Ohio State:

For Togiai, I think the Huskies grabbed the advantage on his official visit where he really vibed with the players in the locker room. There are certainly people around the Pocatello (Idaho) Highland standout that would love to see him at Ohio State so don’t count out the Buckeyes but this one seems like Washington will pull it out in the end. Togiai is an early enrollee so a decision is expected sooner than later. The in-home visits with both staffs will be big.

Ultimately, Urban Meyer got in the last in-home visit over Chris Petersen and Utah (who was the other school in his final 3). Husky fans have rightfully grumbled about the exact nature of “people around” Togiai who steered him away from UW. Togiai has been an early contributor for Ohio State and has so far lived up to expectations.

That recruitment will stand out in the collective memory of Washington recruiting folks since one of the big draws in the current battle for JTT is the emphasis of the Polynesian culture at Washington. Togiai represents the entirety of Ohio State’s sales pitch to show they’ve had success with Polynesian DL out West and you can bet Togiai will be his host when JTT eventually takes an official visit to Ohio State.

Michigan Wolverines

Washington commits- 24, average rating 0.9196, H2H 64.8%, Overall 10.2%

Notable Recruits: Levi Onwuzurike, Milo Eifler

Commits Outside West Region: 1/64

Michigan commits- 13, average rating 0.9611, H2H 35.1%, Overall 5.5%

Notable Recruits: David Long, Zach Charbonnet

Commits Inside West Region: 8/161

The rivalry between Michigan and Washington shifts to the field in a little over 6 months but it hasn’t exactly been incredibly hostile on the recruiting front. The Huskies have dominated from a sheer numbers standpoint but there haven’t been very many true head-to-head battles between these two schools.

Things definitely have shifted in the past 3 recruiting classes as from 2014-17 it was an 8-7 battle in Michigan’s favor. Since then it’s a dominant 17-5 edge for the Huskies. For the most part though the Wolverines have managed to come out on top when both teams are in serious contention so give them credit for that.

One of the few exceptions was Levi Onwuzurike who took an official visit to Michigan and had both among his final few schools before ultimately becoming Washington’s highest profile recruit outside of the West region in years.

Feature Battle: CB David Long- 4 stars, 0.9675 composite rating. Los Angeles, CA

Long had been committed to Stanford for 4 months before he decided to open things up in December of 2015. At the time he called out Michigan and Washington as the 2 leaders for his eventual college choice. The Huskies got an official visit out of Long a few weeks before signing day but by that point the momentum had already shifted to Michigan and the UW coaching staff was unable to get him to change his mind. Long wound up as a 1st team all-conference player by his final season in college and was selected in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft. An honorable mention to Zach Charbonnet who was viewed as a Husky lean but took a visit to Michigan and committed before the Huskies could squeeze back into the race. Charbonnet was fantastic as a true freshman and will be a load to deal with for the UW run defense in about 6 months.

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Washington commits- 34, average rating 0.9181, H2H 72.3%, Overall 10.6%

Commits Outside West Region: 0/82

Nebraska commits- 13, average rating 0.9116, H2H 27.7%, Overall 4.0%

Notable Recruits: Noa Pola-Gates, Darien Chase, Javin Wright

Commits Inside West Region: 11/239

Nebraska isn’t exactly the most fertile state when it comes to recruiting which means they often decide to come West and spend a lot of energy in California. As will be the case for every other school, they had a lot better chance recruiting against Washington before Chris Petersen really got things rolling in recruiting.

There aren’t many recent examples of a player choosing Nebraska over the Huskies when Washington really wants them. The successes that the Cornhuskers have had are almost entirely in the secondary where Washington has been loaded and has had some talented guys slip off their radar. There’s also not all that many examples of Nebraska finishing a close 2nd to the Dawgs.

Feature Battle: ATH Darien Chase- 4 stars, 0.8889 composite rating. Vancouver, WA

Chase appeared to be choosing between Washington and Oregon as the recruiting season wore on and he announced a commitment date where it was expected the Huskies would be a favorite. It appears however that both Pac-12 schools ran out of spots and Chase was left scrambling. Ultimately he picked Nebraska over Boise State and saw a little bit of playing time in his freshman season. Chase announced this offseason that he has been struggling with mental health issues and will be transferring away from Nebraska somewhere closer to home. He has yet to announce where he’s headed but we’ll be rooting for Chase to succeed wherever he goes (although maybe not for his team to succeed if he ends up at Oregon).

Other Programs

Wisconsin Badgers: Washington- 14, Wisconsin- 3

It’s not often that the UW’s do battle but props to Wisconsin for beating out the Huskies for LB Nick Herbig out of Hawai’i this past year. The Huskies were seen as an early favorite after narrowly missing out for his older brother (who went to Stanford) but Herbig was a huge fan of J.J Watt and they sold him on making him an honorary Watt brother.

Illinois Fighting Illini: Washington- 13, Illinois- 3

Illinois is one of those schools that is generally mediocre but will occasionally pop up and land a premium prospect from around the country. That’s happened primarily in the state of Texas where Illinois has ended up with a player the Huskies couldn’t get in the door with a couple of times. They’ve also done in all 3 of those instances something that Washington hasn’t been able to do in the Chris Petersen era: beat out both Texas and Texas A&M for a recruit from the Lone Star State. Illinois is 0/11 though against the Huskies on the West Coast if you don’t count landing Camilo Eifler as a transfer.

Northwestern Wildcats: Washington- 9, Northwestern- 2

In each of 2014 and 2015 Northwestern landed a 3-star player that the Huskies offered but were never seriously after. Move along.

Penn State Nittany Lions: Washington- 10, Penn State- 1

Penn State doesn’t venture out West very often and when they do they don’t cross paths with the Huskies very often. Safety Koa Farmer out of California in 2014 is the only time they reeled in a player with a Washington offer.

Michigan State Spartans: Washington- 6, Michigan State- 4

The Spartans have managed to land commitments from a pair of players in the West region although both were 3-star recruits. All 4 of the players that ended up at Michigan State did so before the class of 2018.

Minnesota Golden Gophers: Washington- 9, Minnesota- 0

Purdue Boilermakers: Washington- 9, Purdue- 0

Indiana Hoosiers: Washington- 5, Indiana- 0

Maryland Terrapins: Washington- 3, Maryland- 0

Iowa Hawkeyes: Washington- 4, Iowa- 0

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Washington- 2, Rutgers- 0