With Spring Football out of the way, we’re back into the mid-year no-football doldrums. As such, I’m jumping back into the Recruiting Profile Series with our most recent commitment.
Parker Brailsford (OL, 6’2” 265, Saguaro HS, AZ)
Continuing with the OL-theme for the 2022 Recruiting Profile Series, it’s somewhat ironic that our first OL commitment is A) from a guy who wasn’t on our collective radar until this month, B) is from out of state, and C) doesn’t have any of the recruiting hype that the rest of our recruiting targets have. While the immediate media reaction was largely positive due to the lack of compelling football news and that it’s always good to stock up on linemen, you could tell there were lingering questions in the room.
Why were we taking Brailsford’s commitment so quickly?
Does it mean we’ve given up on the top in-state OL?
Is the sky falling?
Obviously the last one was a little melodramatic, but it’s not far off considering the general lack of recruiting momentum and shades of 2021’s missed opportunity creeping into our thoughts. When I first saw that he was offered and watched his tape, I was pretty well sold on his projectable ability. However, a longer look at Brailsford as a OL prospect and our overall recruiting/roster building situation, and you can see this was an incredibly savvy move by Coach Lake and Coach Huff.
When watching Brailsford’s tape, what immediately jumps out to you is his versatility. If it wasn’t for giant arrows pointing him out on every play, I don’t think I’d be able to keep up with all of his shuffling along the line. In the first 5 plays of his hudl tape he played all 5 OL spots, and not only that, he looked pretty comfortable at every spot. Whether it was pulling from center (a totally underrated skill), picking up stunts in pass protection from guard (again, an underrated skill set), or simply planting guys from whatever spot he was playing, Brailsford looks like a classic UW-caliber lineman. The movement skills, the mauling-play style, and the relatively refined technique are reminiscent of the handful of OL who have recently earned early playing-time (Harris, Wattenberg, Kirkland, etc.).
What’s also apparent from his tape is that his physique isn’t quite at the P5 level just yet. He doesn’t have the imposing build of someone like Agbo, Iuli, Ioane, or even Nabou, but he’s got a solid frame (6-2) and enough heft at 265 lbs where he could realistically be sitting at/above 300 lbs in 3 years (which would only be his sophomore season). Not to mention that extrapolating his ass-kicking power out to ~300 lbs is pretty exciting as he’s definitely punching above his weight right now.
His height is likely the limiting factor when projecting where he ends up positionally in college, but his feet and overall comfort working in space/on-the-move makes me think it’s worth reconsidering conventional thinking. As I’ve mentioned before, I have operated on the belief that OT is a hard enough position to fill that you want to try as many guys at the position as possible. Victor Curne’s success at RT at only 6-3 and with similar agility as Brailsford makes me think that even an outside chance at bringing swing tackle value to the line could be a major addition.
That being said, it looks like Brailsford is likely slated on the iOL (specifically center). His tape is a mix between Nick Harris’ and Troy Fautanu’s, and his mix of mauling downhill blocking, movement in space, and snapping experience makes me think he could be a more talented version of Harris down the line. Giving Harris as Brailsford’s comp is too simplistic if you boil it down to two guys with similar roster listings. It’s the fact that like Harris, he has athletic traits that you’d look for in a tackle, but with the skill set of an iOL (i.e. pulling, snapping, understanding interior defensive fronts & stunts).
With few likely departures, its looking like our ‘22 OL class will need to be fairly selective despite the bumper crop in talent (maybe 3-4 tops). Brailsford’s 3 or 4 position versatility plays into this selective strategy perfectly. By taking his commitment now, Coach Huff is afforded a degree of certainty that he is covered depth-wise at those 3 or 4 positions, and now we can play the long-game with guys like Conerly and Iuli. In 2021, we didn’t have the room to stock up on the solid developmental guys while waiting out the long recruiting processes of JTT and Egbuka. By the time the writing was on the wall, the ship had likely sailed on many of our back up options. Brailsford significantly widens our margin for error from a roster building perspective.
Obviously a lot of this is simply a projection off of Brailsford’s solid but abbreviated junior season, but there is a lot to be excited about here. It wouldn’t shock me if he quietly works in the background to earn the trust of the staff early while working his body through the S&C program.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the UWDP Recruiting Notebook series in the stream below, and feel free to leave a comment with suggestions of recruits you’d like to see next in the series.