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Head-to-Head Recruiting Battles: SEC

A look at Washington’s 3 biggest recruiting rivals from the Ess-Ee-See

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Washington v Alabama Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

This is part three in a look at Washington’s primary recruiting rivals across the rest of the power conferences. Check out the previous two entries on the Big 10 and the ACC.

Just in case though here’s a description of what’s included in each section below. 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.

Texas A&M Aggies

Washington Commits- 10, average rating 0.9379, H2H 35.8, Overall 10.5%

Notable Recruits: Sam Adams II

Commits Outside West Region: 0/71

Texas A&M Commits- 18, average rating, 0.9126, H2H 64.2%, Overall 5.8%

Notable Recruits: Christian Kirk, Santino Marchiol

Commits Inside West Region: 4/100

It may surprise the general public that if you just look from the standpoint of players with mutual offers that Texas A&M has pretty soundly dominated Washington on the recruiting trail. However when you look at that notable recruits list you’ll see why it doesn’t really feel like it.

There are very few times where a recruit is actually deciding between College Station and Seattle. More than anything the numbers above represent the difficulties that the Huskies have had pulling out elite level talent from the state of Texas. Since Chris Petersen took over at Washington the Dawgs have offered 53 prospects in the state of Texas that had an offer from the Aggies. 0 of them have come to Washington and 13 of them went to Texas A&M.

Feature Battle: ATH Sam Adams II- 4 stars, 0.9018. Sammamish, Washington.

This didn’t really end up as a battle between Washington and Texas A&M but it looked like it might for a little while. Adams is of course the son of Seahawk great Sam Adams who played his college ball at Texas A&M. The Aggies tried to play the legacy angle and were heavily involved with his recruitment but it appears things really came down to the local Huskies or Ohio State where his teammate Gee Scott Jr. was already committed. Adams II ended the speculation in July when he pledged to UW and never really looked back from there.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Washington Commits- 16, average rating 0.9355, H2H 55.1%, Overall 8.2%

Notable Recruits: Jake Browning, Daniel Heimuli, Laiatu Latu

Commits Outside West Region: 0/73

Alabama Commits- 13, average rating, 0.9649, H2H 44.9%, Overall 6.9%

Notable Recruits: Ale Kaho, Jonah Williams

Commits Inside West Region: 5/121

The great bogeyman. Alabama. Nick Saban. For a long time an Alabama offer was a sign that the Huskies were out of their league and should just move on. In the 2014-17 recruiting classes Washington was out-recruited 7 to 1 for recruits with offers from both schools. That one player the Huskies landed? Jake Browning.

Since that point though things have skewed in Washington’s favor by a count of 15 to 6. The Dawgs still have yet to win a toe to toe battle against Alabama from outside the West region. And it’s almost certainly true that the Huskies have had success in part because Alabama hasn’t prioritized all but the 5-star level guys from the West Coast. But if Washington offers a kid from California with an Alabama offer the odds are better than 2 to 1 these days that he’d end up in Seattle over Tuscaloosa.

Feature Battle: LB Ale Kaho- 4 stars, 0.9448. Reno, Nevada

Perhaps the ugliest incident in the Chris Petersen era and it wouldn’t be a shock to discover that this recruitment ultimately contributed to Coach Pete not wanting to do this anymore. Kaho committed to BYU before his junior year of high school but continued to receive interest from programs across the country. Alabama and Washington were the two schools after him the hardest and he flipped to the Huskies a few day before the first early signing period while on an official visit to Seattle.

At the time he was the highest ranked recruit in the 247-only rankings the Huskies had gained a commitment from in the Chris Petersen era as they gave him a 5th star. In an interview with Blair Angulo of 247 sports just after making the announcement Kaho had this to say:

“Honestly, I had been thinking about making the decision heading into the trip, but I wanted my parents to see it and see what I saw my first time there,” Kaho told 247Sports. “It’s different there; this place is special for me. It’s why it’s been high on my list for a long time before I got other offers, and once my parents saw what I saw and they could feel what I felt my first time there, I made the announcement.”

Everything appeared to be in order from there as Kaho came to campus to go through summer classes with the rest of the freshmen in preparation for fall camp. However on August 2nd, 2018 the news broke that Kaho had been released from his letter of intent and would be allowed to sign somewhere else. The infamous Adam Jude article interviewed family that said that Kaho had lost significant weight due to homesickness and family disruptions over the last several months and was not in a position to begin playing major college football.

At best that version of events can be considered bending the truth as Kaho quickly committed to his initial runner up and enrolled in practices almost immediately with no apparent weight lost despite the truth of family events from earlier in the summer. The kindest interpretation of the battle is that Kaho couldn’t get done the last classes he needed to meet eligibility requirements at UW, a rogue family member stretched the truth to cover, and he went with his 2nd choice after he couldn’t get in to Washington. The conspiracy theorists will state his family was given a heavy coffee cup by Tosh Lupoi so he intentionally didn’t finish his final class in order to get out of his LOI and have the family moved to Tuscaloosa. Whether you believe one side of the story or that the truth is somewhere in the middle depends on if you prefer purple or crimson.

Tennessee Volunteers

Washington Commits- 18, average rating 0.9278, H2H 66.7%, Overall 7.5%

Commits Outside West Region: 0/88

Tennessee Commits- 9, average rating, 0.9360, H2H 33.3%, Overall 3.8%

Notable Recruits: Henry To’oto’o, Jonathan Kongbo

Commits Inside West Region: 2/153

We give Oregon crap for passing out offers like candy but Tennessee is another tier above Oregon. The Volunteers reel in the occasional West Coast prospect but for the most part they simply give out offers and get ignored.

Still, occasionally they’re able to land a big fish out here despite not having won the SEC in 22 years. Technically, Washington has landed a recruit from Tennessee in Jackson Sirmon. But of course Sirmon moved to Tennessee when his dad got a coaching job there so it doesn’t really count as landing a recruit from the Southeast.

Feature Battle: LB Henry To’oto’o- 4 stars, 0.9779. Concord, CA.

After losing out on Kaho in the 2018 class the Huskies hoped the next year to best an SEC team in landing one of the best linebackers in the West. The final 3 for Henry ended up as Tennessee, Alabama, and Washington with the Crimson Tide thought to be the leaders. Part of that was the impact of Tosh Lupoi who was a De La Salle grad and had been Alabama’s primary recruiter on the West Coast.

However, Lupoi took a job with the Cleveland Browns a few weeks before signing day and suddenly it appeared Washington had a golden opportunity to fill the void. On the eve of signing day there were rumors that To’oto’o had already committed to Washington but wanted to announce it publicly on national signing day. Steve Wiltfong of 247 had Alabama as the favorite with Washington surging and Tennessee 3rd on the day before signing day. Instead though he committed to the Volunteers and denied a huge close to the class of UW.

The dual late losses of Kaho and To’oto’o loomed large this past season with the terrible play the Huskies got from their inside linebackers all season. Kaho has struggled to gain significant playing time in the Bama rotation (although he is a tremendous special teams player) while Henry finished with 72 tackles and 5 TFL as a true freshman.

LSU Tigers: Washington- 11, LSU- 10

Unfortunately this is one of the few schools where things are likely to get worse for Washington in the near future given LSU’s recent national championship and increased presence on the West coast. The Tigers have come out west for big targets like Elias Ricks and Siaki Ika in the last 2 classes. And of course LSU landed Washington local Ali Gaye in this 2020 class who was a one-time UW commit that couldn’t qualify coming out of high school and has spent the past 2 years at a JUCO.

Florida Gators: Washington- 12, Florida- 8

The Gators have offered a ton of top prospects out West but it’s been pretty limited in terms of direct battles between the two schools.

Vanderbilt Commodores- Washington- 15, Vanderbilt- 1

Talk about a bloodbath. The lone Commodore was Alston Orji out of Rockwell, Texas. Otherwise Vanderbilt can pack up and go home if they see a Washington offer.

Georgia Bulldogs: Washington- 8, Georgia- 5

Obviously the biggest battle between these two schools was when Georgia held on for QB Jacob Eason. That win lasted 2 years before he transferred back to UW and had the starting job this past season before leaving for the NFL Draft. There was also a thought the Huskies could have a chance with 5-star CB Kelee Ringo in the 2020 class since he grew up in the Seattle area but it quickly became a Texas, Georgia, Oregon battle which the Bulldogs won.

Arkansas Razorbacks: Washington- 5, Arkansas- 4

I didn’t expect this to look this close but Arkansas rarely offers players from the West Coast so the majority of these battles have occurred in Texas.

Missouri Tigers- Washington- 6, Missouri- 3

Ole Miss Rebels: Washington- 8, Ole Miss- 1

Kentucky Wildcats: Washington- 3, Kentucky- 3

Auburn Tigers: Washington- 4, Auburn- 2

Mississippi State Bulldogs: Washington- 3, Mississippi State- 1

South Carolina Gamecocks: Washington- 3, South Carolina- 1