Happy Sunday Husky fans. With recruiting in a dead period I wanted to take a look at in-state recruiting and how it’s going (as well as what it will take to improve and what’s realistic).
Over the last couple of years the Husky program has been unable to keep the top in-state talent in-state over the last couple of years. Starting back in 2021 it’s been a trend that has been very very concerning (5 star defensive lineman JT Tuimoloau and 5 star wide receiver Emeka Egbuka both chose to head to Ohio State). In the 2021 class the Husky program 6 of the top 10 prospects elected to play elsewhere with of those prospect having UW offers.
In the 2022 class in-state recruiting was even more challenging with 8 out of the top 10 prospects electing to play elsewhere (with 5 star offensive tackle Josh Conerly being the highest ranked recruit to leave the state). Out of the top of 10 prospects 8 held UW offers.
So far in the 2023 class the Husky staff has landed 1 of the top 10 prospects (I am including 5 star defensive end Jayden Wayne on this list even though he has transferred to IMG Academy in Florida). Similar to prior years the Husky staff has offered 8 out of the top 10 prospects in-state.
When you look at the numbers in-state recruiting is obviously not going as well as it should be going (especially with the amount of talent that the state has produced over the last several years). There are some factors that the Husky program can and cannot control that are effecting there ability to land some in-state prospects.
NIL is probably the biggest factor hindering the Husky program right now in their effort to land top in-state talent. The 2022 class was the first class that saw NIL impact recruitments. To date the Husky program has been less aggressive with their NIL program than some of their main competitors. More and more prospects are moving NIL to the #1 decision in picking a school, which makes landing top end talent more difficult. The Husky program will likely stay conservative with their NIL pitch to players (basically saying NIL is available for current players and Seattle is ripe with large companies that provide opportunities not only for now but in the future). Without getting into specifics I will just say that other schools are taking a more aggressive approach to NIL, with a now approach.
The 2nd biggest factor that has been hurting Husky in-state recruiting has been the recent on field performance and new coaching staff. We can all agree that the 2021 was a disaster both on and off the field, and what we saw last year definitely caused several prospects to take a step back and evaluate their options, which helped out of state programs wedge their way in. With a new coaching staff they had to build new relationships with recruits not only in the 2022 class, but the 2023 class. Over the course of a 3-4 year recruitment for most of these prospects they forge relationships with coaches and if those coaches are fired, that school suffers. Hopefully the coaching change to Coach Deboer will turn out to be the correct decision, but short term it hurt UW recruiting in-state.
The 3rd factor I would say that has hurt UW is their marketing and recruiting effort in-state. Prior to the 2021 season the Husky program was on a very successful run, which included a run into the CFP playoff, a truckload of NFL players, and 2 pac 12 championships. With that amount of success the majority of programs around the country would typically market their success and brand themselves as a national power. Unfortunately UW didn’t capitalize on their success and chose to let their results speak for themselves (which works if you continue to win year in and year out, but if you have a dip that strategy doesn’t work because people forget). The 2nd part of the equation is how hard, and aggressive the Husky staff recruits prospects and their families. Up until the current coaching staff, and I would even say the current staff isn’t as aggressive in-state as other programs, Husky coaches have been getting out-recruited by other programs who are selling a better vision to local prospects. Staying local and repping your hometown team used to be more important, but today recruits and their families can easily watch and travel basically anywhere. I believe to fix this the Husky staff needs to put their marketing efforts and pitch to showcase 1) how successful the program has been recently 2) the % of players that the program has developed and sent to the nfl 3) sell in-state recruits about not only playing in front of family and friends but selling prospects on if they want to live in Seattle after their playing days that playing for UW will help you network and build connections locally that will set you up (whether you head to UW or not).
There are obviously a ton of other factors that are in play and likely effecting in-state recruiting. I would suspect that if Coach Deboer is successful this season that the Husky program will likely see an uptick with their in-state recruiting for the 2024 class. I am also of the belief that at some point there will be reform or punishment for programs who are using NIL as an enticement to land prospects, which should help UW.
If I was being honest with myself about how successful the Husky program should be in landing top prospects in-state I would say that they should be landing close to 75% of top in-state recruits that they offer (with 50% being on the low end of my expectations). The Husky program has a ton to offer local prospects (side note: I am not touching on realignment right now since there is so much unknown for the Husky program but depending on how things shake out this factor could definitely move the needle with top prospects).
That is all for today and if you have any thoughts on in-state recruiting feel free to share them in the comments. As always follow me @asieverkropp.