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Class of 2023 Recruiting Reset

Where does Washington stand at the end of spring practices for the next recruiting cycle?

NCAA Football: Montana at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

With an almost entirely new coaching staff (OL coach Scott Huff the lone holdover) we had several months of being unclear who the major and/or realistic targets were for the class of 2023. Now though the staff has managed to bring in a substantial number of players on unofficial visits to come see spring practices. That has given us a much better picture of who the staff is truly interested in and whether that interest is likely to be reciprocated.

At this point I’m sure some of you are thinking, “hey this looks like a Max article that’s not likely to contain a bunch of numbers!” Well, gotcha. Because what fun can a person possibly have unless they try to apply a convoluted formula to something?

This year I’m trying out a new approach to try to track where the Huskies are in recruiting. I’ve taken every reported offer they’ve given out and tried to insert all of the relevant criteria I could to come up with into a formula to provide a better picture around recruiting. The recruiting process is always changing as it’s based on the whims of 17-year olds. Therefore the formula is intended to be used as a snapshot. Who should we view as the most likely commits right this second?

There are some clear flaws in the methodology. There’s no question that NIL plays a major part in the recruiting decisions of a large number of athletes. Having access to exactly how much money is being offered to each player by the collectives of schools that are recruiting them and/or how highly they factor that into their decision making is probably the biggest element you could use to try to make predictions about future school choices.

Obviously, I don’t have access to that. Instead some of the factors included in my formula are: recruiting ranking, # of FBS offers, in-state vs. out of state, in P12 footprint vs. out, cutdown list status (e.g: UW in final 5), crystal ball predictions, unofficial visits taken, and official visits taken. I’m not calculating this for every school. If a player took more unofficial visits to USC than to UW I don’t have a way to give them a higher likelihood to go to USC. It’s not designed to say school X should be the favorite. I’m strictly looking at who in this moment appears more likely to end up committing to Washington relative to other players the Huskies have offered.

I’ll go position-by-position at who appear to be the most likely eventual commitments based on this system and we can have some fun discussing how accurate it feels.

QUARTERBACK

# of players with UW offer at position: 7

# of players uncommitted: 6

Top Scorers: Gianni Mascolino (4.20, 2nd overall), Gabarri Johnson (3.10, 7th overall), Jaden Rashada (2.12, 32nd overall)

This is a bit of a tricky position for a system like this to capture. At the moment the leader is Gianni Mascolino who reported a UW offer back at the end of January...and that’s his only reported offer. He also is unranked by any of the recruiting services. Given all of that it seems there’s no way that offer is committable given how important the QB position is for this new staff right now. But if it was then it makes sense that an unranked player with no other offers who took an unofficial visit to the campus in January would be likely to pounce and pledge to be a Dawg.

The more realistic target is Gabarri Johnson which didn’t look like it was the case for a while. In my freeze frame at the end of March he fell out of the top-ten after receiving crystal balls to Utah. However, the Utes took a different 4-star QB commitment. Then it looked like Arkansas was the main competitor but the Razorbacks also took another 4-star QB commitment. It may not be the most elegant way to end up with a highly ranked local quarterback but if the Huskies are the last ones still at the bar without a date when Gabarri is ready to choose I’m not going to complain for now.

There was a period of time when Jaden Rashada seemed a realistic get but every tea leaf has shown that it’s turned into a battle about who can get a package deal with his brother and put together a substantial NIL package. Miami, Oregon, and LSU all are now heavily involved and it would be a shock if Rashada took an official to UW at this point to see him rise any higher in the ranks.

RUNNING BACK

# of players with UW offer at position: 7

# of players uncommitted: 5

Top Scorers: Tybo Rogers (3.99, committed to UW), Brandon Johnson (2.45, 25th overall)

Washington already has a commitment from Tybo Rogers but has also been clear they’re expecting to overhaul the current running back room and so would be open to adding more talent at the position. The staff has brought in 3 backs from the portal, 2 of whom will still have eligibility by the time the 2023 class is on campus.

Right this second the most likely 2nd back would be Brandon Johnson who just picked up an offer from Washington this week, his first from a power conference team. He’s still unranked by the major recruiting services but if UW uncovered a gem who debuts at a solid spot in the ranks and/or other Pac-12 schools follow suit then of course he would move down until he takes a visit.

I’m sure many Husky fans are holding out hope that local 4-star Jayden Limar becomes a 2nd RB in the class and it’s not impossible. But Limar not including UW in a top-9 (clarified after it wasn’t a final 9 just top-9 right now) and a lot of crystal ball picks for Notre Dame have him way down the possibility list at the moment.

WIDE RECEIVER

# of players with UW offer at position: 19

# of players uncommitted: 15

Top Scorers: Keith Reynolds (4.18, committed to UW), Taeshaun Lyons (3.10, 7th overall), Jeremiah McClure (2.60, 21st overall), Rashid Williams (2.58, 24th overall), Jurrion Dickey (2.39, 26th overall)

The Dawgs have Keith Reynolds committed already but will definitely look to add more talent at the position. The most obvious candidate at the moment is Taeshaun Lyons who has 5 Pac-12 offers but none from USC or Oregon and who doesn’t have a grade in the composite yet (but does from 247).

A step down in the likelihood but a step up in the recruiting rankings are Dickey, McClure and Williams. Each are a 4-star recruit from California but haven’t really seen a national recruitment despite a couple lower-tier SEC offers for Williams. Each came up this spring to see the campus this spring and if you’re hoping for coach Shephard to hit a home run it’s probably one of those 3. The Huskies recently made the top-5 for Dickey who is announcing his decision later tonight but all of the predictions are that Oregon will be the choice.

TIGHT END

# of players with UW offer at position: 11

# of players uncommitted: 7

Top Scorers: Kade Eldridge (3.38, 5th overall), Spencer Shannon (2.93, 13th overall), Collins Acheampong (2.85, 16th overall), Jackson Bowers (2.74, 19th overall)

This seems like a spot where the Huskies are in good shape with a number of quality prospects. Eldridge is currently the highest in the ratings by virtue of being in-state but he has stated in interviews that Oregon is his dream school and he’s also being pursued by USC. I there’s not a spot in the formula for those extra pieces of info but that would knock him down a bit if I were doing any manual manipulations.

However the Huskies have already made cut-down lists for Acheampong and Bowers and are expected to make a soon to come list from Shannon. We’ll see how many players Washington wants to try to keep on the roster at tight end given an expected lessening in the usage but Nick Sheridan and the staff seem to be doing a good job at least getting in position for a big commitment.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE

# of players with UW offer at position: 11

# of players uncommitted: 10

Top Scorers: Zachary Henning (2.03, 34th overall), Raymond Pulido (2.02, 36th overall), Roger Alderman (1.99, 37th overall), Elishah Jackett (1.96, 42nd overall)

This looks like a spot where there’s no clear frontrunner for a commitment. If the Huskies end up with a tackle in this class at the moment it will probably come from that group of 4 but none of them have ended up visiting. You’ll notice that all of them round up or down to the same number so despite the difference in 33rd and 42nd looking big they’re almost identical.

Elishah Jackett might be my best guess at the moment despite being 10 spots behind Henning. He’s the only one who has included the Huskies in a list of top schools as last month he had them in his top-5 although he noted that was not a final 5. Alderman meanwhile is a recent offer who is still a relative unknown and doesn’t have offers from USC or Oregon. Still, the current staff has work to do in order to get a quality tackle in this class which isn’t what you want to hear at the one position where UW kept their position coach from the previous staff.

INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE

# of players with UW offer at position: 6

# of players uncommitted: 6

Top Scorers: Micah Banuelos (5.29, 1st overall), Landen Hatchett (3.89, 3rd overall)

On the flip side it’s tough to say that UW isn’t extremely well positioned for the guard spot. Banuelos is a local prospect who has been around the program frequently throughout the spring. Hatchett is also from Western Washington and is the younger brother of another offensive lineman on the team that has been running with the 2nd team for much of spring practices. The lead for Banuelos is mainly due to a pair of crystal balls that were placed before the new staff was in place. Either way it seems like close to a lock that the Huskies end up with at least one of them. The question is whether there’s room to take both?

DEFENSIVE LINE

# of players with UW offer at position: 20

# of players uncommitted: 17

Top Scorers: Gavin Gewiniger (3.28, 7th overall), Amos Talalele (2.12, 31st overall), Ashton Sanders (1.9, 48th overall), Cameron Brandt (1.8, 54th overall), Grant Buckey (1.8, 56th overall)

This is another position where the Huskies don’t appear to be doing particularly well at the moment. The top scorer is Geweniger because at the moment UW is his only power conference offer and he may be a sleeper who rises throughout the process but we’ll have to see. He only pulled in an offer in the last week.

Beyond that the likeliest target is Talalele who has scheduled official visits to UW, USC, and Cal for later in the spring/summer. If he had already taken that visit it would vault him up into the top-15 but official visits have been known to get canceled so I’m not planning on counting it in the formula until the player actually shows up on campus.

As it stands though Washington didn’t get any of the California targets up on an unofficial visit this spring. The one defensive lineman who did come to Seattle is Elinneus Davis who ventured from Minnesota. Since he’s out of region and there’s currently a CB in for him to sign with the home school Gophers he’s in 6th place among the linemen at the moment but could definitely be one to watch in future updates since he appeared to love his visit.

EDGE

# of players with UW offer at position: 19

# of players uncommitted: 18

Top Scorers: Brady Nassar (3.03, 9th overall), Jaeden Moore (2.94, 12th overall), Blake Purchase (2.73, 20th overall), Jayden Wayne (2.60, 23rd overall)

Washington has 4 edge rushers in the top-25 in my scoring system and there’s a wide variety in their profiles. The ones at the top are pretty similar with Brady Nassar and Jaeden Moore. Each are from California, unofficially visited this spring, and are rated between a 0.85 and 0.86 in the 247 composite. Nassar is viewed as slightly more likely by virtue of having fewer offers (2 versus 6 from the Pac-12).

Stepping down a little bit is Blake Purchase who is just short of being a 4-star in the composite but visited from Colorado during the spring. Based on interviews the Huskies don’t appear to be near the very top of his list but we’ll see if they make the cut for an official visit. The big name is local 5-star Jayden Wayne who included the Dawgs in his final 11 schools but has offers from just about every program in the country. For years it had been rumored that Wayne was enamored with heading to the south for his college ball and that was before NIL became a thing. His in-state status gives him a bump in the formula but that doesn’t appear to have much if any appeal to Wayne so I would manually move him down the rankings if I could (although obviously would prefer to be wrong on that).

High 4-star out of Texas Anthony James is currently committed to Texas A&M but was in attendance for the spring preview on Saturday and announced he has scheduled an official visit to Seattle for the summer. The Aggies just signed perhaps the greatest DL class in the history of college football in the last class and given the NIL infrastructure they have in place (plus the ones at other official visit getters Miami and Florida) it seems like it would be an all-time upset for UW to flip him. But with an official visit on the books now he’s worth mentioning. At the very least it’s safe to say he’s a soft commitment to Texas A&M with official visits to 3 other schools scheduled.

LINEBACKER

# of players with UW offer at position: 12

# of players uncommitted: 11

Top Scorers: Michael Montgomery (3.73, 4th overall), Victory Johnson (2.96, 11th overall), Blake Nichelson (2.77, 17th overall), Leviticus Su’a (2.60, 22nd overall)

There’s no question that linebacker is one of the most crucial positions of need for the Huskies and they’re in solid position with quite a few. At the top of the list is Garfield High’s Michael Montgomery who right now has just 4 listed offers although that includes both UW and Oregon.

Behind him are 7 linebackers from California, 3 of which I listed above. All 3 visited during the spring and a 4th (Jerry Mixon) did as well but has a CB to UCLA which knocks him down the likelihood rankings. Johnson has the fewest offers and is the lowest rated of the trio which puts him as the most likely but he still has 7 Pac-12 offers including UW, USC, and Utah so he’s definitely no slouch. Su’a has been on a whirlwind tour visiting 5 Pac-12 programs over 3 weeks including UW so we’ll likely need to see where the dust settles with him before truly assessing if the Huskies have a shot.

CORNERBACK

# of players with UW offer at position: 20

# of players uncommitted: 17

Top Scorers: Jasiah Wagoner (2.99, 10th overall), Leroy Bryant (2.92, 14th overall), Caleb Presley (2.85, 15th overall), Maliki Crawford (2.77, 18th overall)

With Jimmy Lake coaching in some capacity the Huskies could always point to their recent dominance developing defensive backs to help them in recruiting battles. Now it’s an entirely new defensive staff responsible for reeling in the most loaded position of local talent in the 2023 class even with the fresh ammunition of McDuffie and Gordon getting picked in the top-40 this week.

Jasiah Wagoner and Caleb Presley are both 4-star recruits although Presley’s recruitment has gone national with twice as many FBS offers. UW made one cut (albeit down to a giant top-12) for Presley while Wagoner has yet to trim things down. Both have been on campus this spring and Wagoner likely represents UW’s best opportunity to secure an in-state 4-star player this cycle.

The other 2 visitors the Huskies have had are California DBs Leroy Bryant and Maliki Crawford. Bryant doesn’t have up a ranking in the composite yet but has gotten an 86 grade from 247 which makes him a mid to upper 3-star player. He still has offers from half the Pac-12 though including Oregon and Utah. Crawford’s comp from 247 analyst Greg Biggins is Kevin King which can’t hurt. He’s a UCLA decommit and has an official visit already on the books for USC so the competition for him will definitely still be fierce.

SAFETY

# of players with UW offer at position: 6

# of players uncommitted: 4

Top Scorers: Jordan Sanford (0.21, 101st overall)

This is a spot where it doesn’t look like a Husky commit is on the list of offers. It’s possible that someone listed as a corner according to 247 ends up getting moved to safety by the coaching staff but it’s a bleak list at the moment. Washington in the last 2 weeks made the top-5 and top-3 respectively for Kodi Decambra and Christian Pierce. Unfortunately Pierce on Sunday committed to USC and Decambra has crystal balls in for Oregon from basically every west coast analyst on the 247 staff.

In addition to those 2, RJ Jones is committed to Cal and the other 3 with Washington offers all have crystal balls elsewhere (Texas Tech, Missouri, and Clemson) and are out of region offerings. Not great and I’m sure the staff will continue to evaluate 7v7 film from this spring throughout the region to find other options.

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UW Recruiting Snapshot Over Time

Player Position 2/28 Ranking 3/28 Ranking 4/28 Ranking
Player Position 2/28 Ranking 3/28 Ranking 4/28 Ranking
Micah Banuelos iOL 2 1 1
Gianni Mascolino QB 5 4 2
Landen Hatchett iOL 3 3 3
Michael Montgomery LB 1 2 4
Kade Eldridge TE --- 6 5
Gavin Geweniger DL --- --- 6
Gabarri Johnson QB 10 --- 7
Taeshaun Lyons WR --- 5 8
Brady Nassar EDGE 9 --- 9
Jasiah Wagoner CB --- --- 10
Tybo Rogers RB 7 UW Commit UW Commit
Jayden Limar RB 4 --- ---
Blake Nichelson LB 6 7 ---
Nayati Hendrix ATH 8 --- ---
Collins Acheampong TE --- 8 ---
Caleb Presley CB --- 9 ---
Jackson Bowers TE --- 10 ---