SEATTLE — Think of this as a quasi-Black Friday for college football recruiting with Washington getting a few good deals months in advance of the biggest day of the year.
Wednesday marks the start of the new early signing period. The three-day window, which ends Dec. 22, allows high school seniors to sign their National Letter of Intent.
Those who sign put themselves and their respective future programs at ease. Anyone who doesn’t sign will surely wade through a potentially dramatic January and put pen to paper on National Signing Day in early February.
UW, in a manner of speaking, got its shopping done early. The Huskies are expecting to have most of their 18 commits sign in the early window.
Huskies coach Chris Petersen and his staff have built what 247 Sports deems the No. 10 class in America. Rivals views the group 12th.
Either way, it could be the best class the Huskies have built in the modern recruiting era.
“I’ll be signing as soon as I can,” four-star defensive end Draco Bynum of Wilsonville, Oregon, told The News Tribune. “I think it’s awesome. For one thing, (the early signing period) will force some of the commits to show their true colors. I don’t think anyone from UW will be like that. … I think if you are verbally committed to a school, you should not be afraid on the (December) 20th.”
So far, the early period has received mixed reviews from college coaches and prospects. In October 2016, Petersen told reporters he was in favor of an early signing period.
Adam Gorney, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals, said the early signing period has created “mass confusion” for many in the industry.
“I’ve talked to many coaches who don’t know what is going to happen,” Gorney said. “They are not sure if all the kids are going to sign.”
Gorney said he’s talked with several UW commits who’ve indicated they will sign in the early period.
Should everything go as planned, the Huskies will be in great shape heading into National Signing Day. Any recruit looking at UW will see Petersen and his staff have a formidable class in place that’s capable of adding more talent.
Being in such a position is a quite a change for UW, which averaged the No. 30 class in Petersen’s first four classes.
How exactly did UW manage to build its best class since recruiting rankings began in the early 2000s?
“You see the bump coming in a successful season and there was naturally going to be a bump in 2018 coming off the heels of the 2016 season,” said Brandon Huffman, who is the national college football recruiting editor for 247. “All that momentum winning the Pac-12 Championship, going to the College Football Playoff. Then, they follow it up with a Fiesta Bowl bid and at least a 10-win season.
“They’re trending upward and staying upward.”
Another thing helping UW is having a coaching staff that’s remained largely intact.
Gorney and Huffman said Petersen’s ability to keep his assistants shows the sort of stability that parents and recruits find comforting.
Even though offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith left to become the head coach at Oregon State, the Huskies hired former assistant Bush Hamdan as his replacement.
“Lot of schools have players who commit to their position coach,” Gorney said. “Lot of these guys love their position coaches but it’s all about Chris Petersen.
“Austin Osborne told me he was locked in and Marquis Spiker said the same thing after Jonathan Smith left.”
Osborne (Mission Valley, California) and Spiker (Murietta Valley, California) are four-star receivers who could be among the best players in the 2018 class.
Huffman also pointed out that UW is recruiting a greater volume of players compared to Petersen’s previous classes.
Petersen took 23 players in 2014 and 25 signees in 2015. He’s taken 18 players in each of the following years.
“It’s a different feel,” Huffman said. “Typically, they build a class early and get a few guys here and there late. This class, we were not used to seeing a weekend like they’ve had late in the process.”
UW has added players in bunches. The Huskies have grabbed six commitments since Nov. 23 and three came in a 24-hour period between Dec. 8-9.
It’s possible UW could add more players before NSD in February.
Huffman said the Huskies are in the hunt for four-star Archbishop Murphy safety Kyler Gordon. He also said Stephan Blaylock, a four-star safety committed to UCLA, is also in play for UW. Blaylock took an official visit earlier this month to Montlake.
Bynum, a 6-foot-6, 250-pound defensive end, said he’s excited about UW’s class but would love to have a few more future teammates.
“There is so much talent in this class. To think we have two-and-half months left, how could you not be more excited?” Bynum said. “There’s plenty of room left in the Dawg family.”