Recruiting and some side notes
Malamute, July 13, 2007
Lee Trevino once said, there are three things that are not long for this
world, "dogs who chase cars, pros that chip for pars and coaches who
While Trevino was concerned about dogs and
professional golfers, our focus will be on football coaches who lack
stars, that is, the four and five-star variety.
Short of having a five-star recruit on board, just
making a series of mundane mistakes
in recruiting can eventually cost a coach his job. In fact, failing to fill holes
gutted by graduation can be inimical to a coach's entire future.
Washington has lost 26 seniors,
mostly out of its 2002 and 2003 classes, classes that scout.com ranked
23rd and 18th in the nation, respectively.
It is our contention that
most of those holes left by graduation last season have not been adequately filled
and that rather than Washington's football fortunes being on the
upswing, as the media claim, we believe their claim is so much drivel. (Photo:
Washington's last four
recruiting classes (2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007) were ranked 22nd, 55th, 35th, and 29th, respectively. Two four-star recruits out of the 2004
class never played a down -- Matt Tuiasosopo and Keauntea Bankhead –
their loss certainly worsening its relatively high ranking if computed
again. And the same is true for the 2007 class, where WRs Anthony Boyles
and Devin Aguilar have apparently been lost to non-qualifying SAT scores.
Side note 1: However,
there is still the possibility that Boyles (four stars) and Aquilar
(three stars) could enroll at UW should they obtain qualifying scores on
the SAT test given on September 15. According to data on scout.com,
neither UCLA or USC offered a scholarship to Boyles, who is out of
Gardena. Will Boyles' situation eventually translate into a mistake in recruiting?
Side note 2: When my wife asked
Coach Willingham whether having QB Jake Locker on board had helped with
recruiting, he mentioned WRs Boyles and Aguilar. That conversation took
place within earshot of AD Todd Turner and school president, Mark Emmert,
both of whom were with their wives and seated next to us at an outdoor restaurant in Palm Springs.
Side note 3: Over the past four
years, some highly-rated local products have left the State of
Washington, something that, for the most part, never occurred under Rick Neuheisel's controversial regime
(1999-2003). Think Isaiah Stanback, Nate
Robinson and Reggie Williams on the one hand and Jonathan Stewart, Steve
Schilling and Taylor Mays on the other. Until he was injured and lost
for the season, Isaiah comprised most of the offense in 2006. Robinson was the
catalyst that brought UW basketball back to prominence. Williams was a
first-round draft pick.
None of the local media will ever credit Neuheisel for recruiting Nate.
They hope that using Neuheisel as a scapegoat for the Huskies' recent
collapse diminishes their role in bringing UW down
in the eyes of the public. Whew, we're off the hook, they say.
Side note 4. It was fun to watch Sean Douglas's
booming punts in the practices that
took place in Olympia. Charles Frederick's recent success in the AFL must confound
those local sportswriters who have been on Neuheisel's case since 1999.
Note that Neuheisel recruited Frederick out of Florida and Douglas out
of Nebraska. Frederick was fun to tease because of his good sense of
humor, like in "I thought that Dash Crutchley was the fastest man on
crutches, ET?" Charles was on crutches at several practices in Olympia,
much to Gilby's chagrin.
These facts champion the notion
that UW certainly had talent last season (from Neuheisel's 2002 and 2003
classes) ... but not enough of it, being shortchanged from Keith Gilbertson's 2004 class and
Willingham's 2005/2006 classes. Based on the recruiting rankings, it is
logical to assume that Neuheisel's two classes, then experienced
veterans last season, explain the 5-7 record that was an improvement over
Willingham's first year at Washington
when he went 2 and 9. The lack of support for Neuheisel's classes accounts for
the close games the
Huskies lost, where depth was an issue.
Support for the starters on the OL (four of them Neuheisel's recruits),
which, as a unit, wore down in October, turned into vaporware. The
starting five on the OL played virtually every down last season.
Starting guards Stanley Daniels and Clay Walker have departed. A huge
drop off in talent between the first and second team offensive lines was
noted in the spring game.
The Stanford game from last season
stands out as an important indicator as to what could happen to the
Huskies this season. For its only win of the season, Stanford beat Washington 20-3 at Husky Stadium in
the penultimate game of the season. Throw out the five big plays from
the Apple Cup, played the very next week, and UW's stats looked very
much like they did against Stanford -- deplorable.
Side note 5: Unfortunately, "Montlake
Jake" is just a redshirt freshman, who, for one thing, needs to work on his footwork to
become a more accurate passer. It is unlikely that he will be another Stanback, at least for this season.
On paper, considering the
mediocre recruiting that has taken place in recent years and the tough
schedule this season, the coach and UW appear to be in deep yogurt,
e.g., on soft footing.
But do recruiting rankings mean
about as much as a willy-nilly promise from a politician, you might ask?
I hope I'm putting too much
emphasis on the rankings, at least for my alma mater's sake. Yet, I keep thinking of the nation’s elite and how
they recruit each year, e.g., Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, USC.
They all bring in top-ten-to-top-twenty classes annually. Are their
classes just artifacts of their success on the gridiron and not germane
to being a football powerhouse, with coaching, conditioning, motivation
and, perhaps, a weak schedule being the prime ingredients?
Certainly, Michigan and Ohio
State play weak schedules. They play in the soft Big Ten, where each of
the 11 teams only plays 8 conference games, leaving plenty of room to
schedule powder puffs and miss playing the conference's elite. This
season, the Buckeyes gang up on such power houses as Division I-AA
Youngstown State, Akron, and Kent State, all three of those games played
at home, not to say that playing UW on the road will be a blowout for
Look for one of the overrated
Big Ten "biggies" to get clobbered in a BCS bowl game after the regular
season is over.
Still, soft schedules aside, a
good percentage of five-star recruits end up playing on Sundays.
Five-star PSAs are rarely misidentified, as they are usually men among
boys, as was Reggie Williams, for example.
Two five-star recruits, one
on each side of the ball, would make a heck of a difference to UW, and
give Tyrone a coaching-span at UW that extends beyond the 3 years left
on his contract.