UW football cleaning up on recruiting trail

UW football cleaning up on recruiting trail

The Huskies already have six players signed for 2019, by far the most in the Pac-12.

SEATTLE — If one takes a look at the 2019 football recruiting rankings, a few things become apparent after the Washington Huskies’ latest set of commitments.

It’s only mid-April but the Huskies have been busy. UW’s six-person class is tied with Alabama and Florida State for the 15th largest in college football. Chris Petersen and his assistants currently have more commits than Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame. Yet that’s not the most telling fact.

UW has the largest class in a Pac-12 Conference landscape that, by comparison, appears barren. The Huskies are one of nine programs who have at least one commit for the 2019 recruiting cycle. Colorado has four and is followed by Oregon and Oregon State with two pledges. California, Stanford, USC, Utah and Washington State each possess one player. Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA do not have any, per 247’s database.

Or to say it another way: You can combine the recruiting classes of eight Pac-12 schools and the Huskies’ still have a bigger group.

How did that happen?

“Winning. Putting dudes in the NFL. Getting a bump off of the Peach Bowl year,” 247 Sports national college football recruiting editor Brandon Huffman said about the Huskies recruiting success.

“People always say ‘Are we going to get a recruiting bump because of our season?’ and you don’t see the bump until the next year. The 2016 season, they make it to the playoff and their 2018 class naturally sees that bump.

“They go back to another (New Year’s Six bowl game), they go Top 10 for majority of the year, 10-win season … They’re getting guys drafted, competing for national championships and at the minimum, conference championships.”

UW’s class is led by Graham-Kapowsin quarterback Dylan Morris, a four-star prospect, who 247 considers the No. 1 prospect in the state. The group includes Rainier Beach three-star offensive lineman Nathaniel Kalepo, the state’s No. 4 prospect.

The Huskies also added three-star Upland (California) running back Cameron Davis, three-star Diablo Valley College (California) lineman Corey Luciano, three-star Westlake (California) defensive back Kamren Fabiculanan and on Sunday, received a pledge from three-star Kaimuki (Hawai’i) defensive lineman Sama Paama.

Huffman said UW also benefits from coaching stability. Petersen and his staff are going into to their fifth season. That might sound like a short time although college football’s current terrain suggests otherwise.

Since Petersen was hired in 2014, more than 80 of the nation’s 130 Football Bowl Subdivision programs have hired a new coach. He’s fifth in Pac-12 coaching tenure. Only Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, Stanford’s David Shaw, WSU’s Mike Leach and Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre have been in their jobs longer than Petersen.

UW’s approach, Huffman said, is similar to one of its chief rivals in Stanford.

Petersen took the Huskies to a 12-win campaign in 2016 which led to a Pac-12 championship and a College Football Playoff semifinal appearance. He led UW through an injury-riddled 2017 season and guided the Huskies to a 10-win year while reaching the Fiesta Bowl for the first time in school history. It was the first time in more than 20 years the Huskies had consecutive seasons of 10 or more wins.

Shaw has been with the Cardinal for seven seasons. He’s won more than 10 games five times, captured four Pac-12 Coach of the Year awards and led Stanford to three conference titles.

There’s also the academic component. Stanford is tied with MIT for being the No. 5 school in the nation, according to U.S. News & Report’s Best Colleges for 2018. Washington is tied for 56th in the rankings with Connecticut, Purdue and Texas.

“You can’t negatively recruit Stanford. They don’t have good academics? No. They can’t win? No. They can’t put guys in the NFL? No. Their coach is leaving? No,” Huffman said.

“UW is now quickly getting into all four of those boxes being checked off. Guys are seeing UW winning. The local kids want to stay. The Southern California kids are seeing the John Rosses of the world go up to Washington and be a Top 10 pick. … Pacific Islander kids are seeing Vita Vea, even though he’s from the Bay Area, they’re seeing him be an All-American, go to Washington and be a first-round pick.

“All these regions they’re recruiting … these kids want to go to the NFL. Which program is winning? Putting guys in the NFL? Developing those players? That’s Washington.”

Huffman said UW’s success has them in the running for a number of players. He listed three-star Menlo-Atherton (California) defensive tackle Noa Ngalu and his teammate, four-star linebacker Daniel Heimuli as considering the Huskies. It’s possible UW might add four-star Mater Dei (California) defensive back Jeremiah Criddell and four-star Antioch (California) defensive tackle Jacob Bandes, who is visiting UW this weekend.

Petersen has previously said he wants a UW offer to “mean something” and that’s why the school selectively recruits. 247 reports the Huskies have extended 63 formal offers, compared to Oregon which has 256.

Darien Chase is an example of the Huskies’ exclusivity. Chase is a four-star recruit and the No. 2 prospect in Washington. At 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, he starred at Union (Vancouver), where he caught 45 passes for 1,095 yards and 14 touchdowns while recording 33 tackles and four interceptions.

Chase does not have a UW offer. But he wants one.

“He covets a UW offer and if they offered him, Washington has a very, very good shot of getting him,” Huffman said.

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