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Will recruiting mistakes cost Huskies?
Up down, up down, KERPLUNK! ;-)
Richard Linde, 20 February 2008

Recruiting mistakes can cost a coach dearly in future seasons. For example, it has been widely asserted by fans and the local media that Rick Neuheisel’s infamous seven wide-receiver class of 2003 by virtue of its sheer number was one such mistake.

Actually, it was an eight WR class if you count Cody Ellis, who has finished out his career at WR after being recruited as a corner back. (See the list below). Scout.com lists 15 wide receivers on the 2003 roster, not counting Ellis.

It is always hard to determine whether reporters and columnists from the Seattle Times are being objective in their criticism of Neuheisel because of the personal vendetta established by the editors of the paper back in December of 2002. (See Coach Rick Hamlet). Under the heading of "Vendetta," I can list a litany of bullets, pun intended.  

Anyway, let’s assume it’s a fair criticism, all the way around.

If so, has Rick’s mistake in recruiting been inversely parroted by Coach Tyrone Willingham and former coach Keith Gilbertson, the mistake of which has resulted in a shortfall of veteran wide receivers going into this next season?

Because of this shortfall in experience, along with a tough schedule, it is unlikely that QB Jake Locker will either significantly improve on his completion percentage (47.3) or on his passing-efficiency rating (105) from last year – as described in “Two-armed Jake.” The numbers -- dissected from the gross anatomy of a losing team -- are two main arteries feeding the vital organs of ball control and turnover margin, two critical parts that have been undernourished since 2003.

Another uncertainty going into next season concerns the defensive line, where five of the top six spots have been lost to graduation…but that’s another story.

At the least, the receiver corps has been running on nearly a full tank of gas since 2003, but now the car alarm has gone off. Four members of the infamous air corps are graduating this year.

Of those inexperienced receivers -- eleven of them in all -- six are true freshmen and one is a redshirt freshmen. Two sophomores, D’Andre Goodwin and Curtis Shaw, have made six and five career catches, respectively, and they connote the established vets on the team. Four of the receivers have been given a four-star rating by scout.com -- so there is plenty of talent to work with.

Naturally, Gilbertson didn’t add a wide out to his 2004 class, which was overflowing with receivers.  Gilby and Willingham failed to bring in a WR for the 2005 class.  Willingham added D’Andre Goodwin to the roster in 2006, along with Marcel Reece, a junior college transfer, who has used up his eligibility. He signed Devin Aguilar, Anthony Boyles and Alvin Logan in 2007; however, both Boyles and Aguilar were academically ineligible. Currently, they are enrolled in school, along with 2008 signee Chris Polk; reportedly the three of them, who have been working out with Jake Locker, will participate in spring ball. Curtis Shaw, who was recruited as a RB in 2007, was switched to wide receiver.

Both Gilbertson and Willingham get blamed for neglecting the 2005 class. A cursory look at the prospective 2006 scholarship roster should have triggered an alarm relative to 2008. Not anticipating Boyles’ and Aguilar’s academic problems comes under the heading of “lack of attention to detail,” and Willingham can be blamed for that.

Blaming Neuheisel for all this youth and inexperience is better left to the Seattle Times. Okay...okay. Here's one for the Times: The imbalance of 2003 was like teeter tottering with an overweight kid who suddenly jumps off: up, down, up down, kerplunk! ;-)


Wide-outs signed to scholarships ++

2003, Rick, All gone; kerplunk!

Corey Williams; Sonny Shackelford; Cody Ellis(%); Craig Chambers, Anthony Russo; Quintin Daniels; Bobby Whithorne; Charles Smith

2004, Gilby (ok)


2005. Gilby; Ty (not ok)


2006, Ty, (Alarm for 2k8 should have gone off)

D'Andre Goodwin; Marcel Reece (*)

2007, Ty, (LOAD)

Devin Aguilar(#) ; Anthony Boyles(#); Alvin Logan (RS); Curtis Shaw (&)

2008, Ty, (Bravo)

Jermaine Kearse; Cody Bruns; Jordan Polk; Chris Polk (&, on board now)

% Recruited as CB; switched to wide receiver
# Academically ineligible; enrolled now
* JC transfer; 2-year eligibility used up
& Recruited as RB
++ Tony Chidiak and Charles Hawkins were walkons in 2007
LOAD -- Lack of attention to detail; Tyrone should have been aware of potential academic problems, since both stood a chance of not getting in for 2008 -- or not at all. Hard work on Boyles' and Aguilar's part paid off.

Of Neuheisel’s “infamous eight,” only Corey Williams and Sonny Shackelford played as true freshmen. They along with Cody Ellis, Craig Chambers, Anthony Russo, and Quintin Daniels all made significant contributions to the Huskies over their careers and have finished their eligibility years at UW, except for Chambers who transferred to Montana in 2006. Six contributors out of eight, including Chambers in his early career, aren’t bad.

None of Willingham’s inexperienced WR corps is likely to burn up the joint this next season, at least in the way Reggie Williams (6-4, 220) did in his freshman year, when he caught 55 passes for 973 yards, and 3 touchdowns, with a long of 74 yards.

Speaking of Williams, I wish at least one of this year’s WR  gaggle were a bit taller like him or, say, a little larger like Reece, who is 6-3 and 240 pounds’ fast. 

Other than a tight end, I would think most quarterbacks would want at least one tall wide receiver to work with – especially, Jake Locker whose passes occasionally sail on him  -- even if it is just for the feeling of confidence a tall receiver brings to the playing field, like, say, putting with the old British ball. For example, Ben Roethlisberger recently asked Steelers’ management to acquire a tall receiver, much to the chagrin of Hines Ward.

Most of the time taller trumps shorter in football, assuming the other abilities are about the same. If not, it’s a question of tradeoffs. However, tall, athletically-gifted receivers, like Reggie, don’t grow on trees.              

Of the current crop of wide receivers, Boyles (6-3, 185, as listed on scout.com) is the tallest. He has been quoted as saying he’d like to bulk up a bit from 198, a weight that sticks in my mind. Eddie Jackson (6-5, 220) joined the Huskies for one season in 2002.

·    The list of candidates at WR for next season are:

Jermaine Kearse, 6-2, Fr; 4 stars
Cody Bruns, 5-11 Fr; 4 stars
Jordan Polk, 5-10, Fr; 3 stars
Chris Polk, 5-11, Fr; 4 stars
Anthony Boyles, 6-3, Fr; 4 stars
Devin Aguilar 6-1 Fr; 3 stars
Alvin Logan 6-2 rFr; 3 stars
Tony Chidiac 5-11 Jr; (walkon 2007)
D'Andre Goodwin, 6-0, So (six career catches); NR
Curtis Shaw 5-11; So (five career catches); 3 stars
Charles Hawkins, 6-2, Sr (walkon 2007)

Rick Neuheisel’s infamous “eight” wide receivers from his 2003 class.

  • Charles Smith: Redshirted in 2003. He played in 7 games over the 2004 and 2005 seasons and was academically ineligible for the 2006 season.

  • Craig Chambers:  Redshirted in 2003. Played in just 5 games in 2004, but caught 19 passes for 408 yards, the third most receiving yards by a freshman. He caught 8 balls against Cal for 189 yards and his first career TD, a 77 yard reception. He had 31 receptions for 573 yards and 6 touchdowns in the 2005 season. Complaining about the lack of playing time, he transferred to Montana for the 2006 season, where he had 41 receptions for 641 yards and 8 touchdowns. He didn’t play in 2007.

  • Bobby Whithorne: Redshirted in 2003 and was on the 2004 roster. He transferred to UCLA for the 2006 season and failed to make its roster in 2007.

  • Anthony Russo: Redshirted in 2003. In 2004, he led all Huskies in punt and kick returns. He ended his career in 2007, playing in 46 games with 122 receptions that went for 1944 yards and 9 touchdowns, his longest being 83 yards.

  • Sonny Shackelford: One of nine true freshmen to receive playing time in 2003. Over his four-year career, he played in 46 games, hauling in 119 passes that went for 1648 yards and 10 touchdowns, with a long of 65 yards. He had a career passing efficiency rating of 258.1.

  • Quintin Daniels: Played in 34 career games over four years, ending up with 31 receptions for 388 yards, 4 touchdowns and a long of 55 yards. He redshirted in 2005, rehabilitating a bad knee.

  • Corey Williams: Played as a true freshman in 2003, appearing in nine games. He made a spectacular 21-yard, game-winning-touchdown catch against WSU with 1:10 remaining. Williams was given a medical redshirt for the 2004 season. He played in 45 games over his five years, grabbing 46 passes that went for 560 yards, 3 touchdowns and a long of 41 yards.

  • Cody Ellis: Redshirted as a corner back in 2003. A prototypical Neuheisel recruit, he was named to Pac-10 All-Academic team four years in a row. Played in 46 games over his five years at UW and caught 36 passes for 590 yards, 3 touchdowns, and an 86-yard long



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