How Did Stanford University Land Two Top Washington Husky Recruiting Targets?
The Washington Husky Recruiting class of 2017 is now in the books. But the team lost two highly regarded prospects to Stanford University? How?
The University of Washington Huskies did practically all they could do to attract the best recruiting class in the nation’s history. On one hand, the team landed at the 23rd nationally ranked team. On the other hand, in the end the Huskies landed enough recruits to fuel optimism for the team’s future.
But under the “what if” category, what if the team managed to land both Washington players who landed at Stanford University? The Washington Huskies were very much in the running to both 5-star OT Foster Sarrell, and 4-star RB Connor Wedington. To that point, two backyard prospects were enticed to play elsewhere. But why? And even more importantly, will it happen again?
Let’s focus on the “why”, and then the answer of prevention avails itself.
The University of Stanford is one of the highest academically rated universities in the nation. As such, the school has a certain niche in drafting players for their football program -take your SAT’s, work on your GPA, then we’ll talk.
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In fact, that selectivity is the same strategy used by the United States Marine Corps rather successfully. “The Few, The Proud, The Marines”. The concept elevates participation to “a cut above”. Just by making it to the team, players have ascended to a better class, a better state of being.
6-foot-0 189 pounds, Sumner, WA ★★★★
Surprisingly, running back Connor Wedington was an early commit to the Washington Husky recruiting class of 2017. Fresh out of their NCAA playoff appearance, the Huskies were pleased to get the commitment from the Sumner Washington running back on February 9th, 2016.
— Connor Wedington (@ConnorWedington) February 10, 2016
But recruiting is a long involved process. In fact, Wedington had just rushed for 1,501 yards and 22 TDs on 188 carries in his junior year at high school. An so, Washington was the first in, and as such Wedington was perhaps overwhelmed to have the opportunity.
Present Day Commit Means Recruit Me
But recruiting prospects are not insulated. In fact, it was coach Petersen’s own admission in his post-signing day press conference that other teams track who UW shows interest in, and then recruits those players.
In the case of Wedington, that strategy worked for Stanford. Ten months later, the young man so eager to join the Washington Huskies changed his mind.
Toughest decision of my life. pic.twitter.com/yX26VqCwLL
— Connor Wedington (@ConnorWedington) December 10, 2016
Much of the cause and effect speculated on this change of heart aligned with the academic reputation of Stanford. But was it a smart move?
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Stanford Offense Changing
It’s clear that the Washington Huskies love to run. But what will the Stanford Cardinals do on offense? The Cardinals have taken on pro-style QB David Mills, OT Walker Little, and an offensive tackle Husky fans are rather familiar with, Foster Sarrell. Stanford has long been an offense that sparks off it’s running game. But the program’s commitment to bookend offensive tackles and a highly ranked quarterback could spell a change of direction for the Cardinals.
2016 was a tough year for the Cardinals offense, but none more so than the offensive line. Per the CardinalSportsReport.com’s Jacob Rayburn, the top three needs to fix the offense were:
No. 1 offensive line, No. 2 offensive line and No. 3 offensive line.
But how long will the team need to bring three freshmen along? And even moreso in today’s environment, how long will the Stanford Cardinal’s be able to hold onto those freshmen? Realistically, if the coaches can develop their recruits, the Stanford Cardinals are looking at two seasons of benefit.
Is that enough time for Wedington to wow national scouts? And so, time will tell.
6-foot-6.5 311 pounds, Graham, WA ★★★★★
And so, as it sometimes happens, Washington native Foster Sarrell was the one who “got away”. Sarrell was a blue chip offensive lineman, the likes of which have not been seen in the state of Washington for some time. In fact, he made a late visit to the University of Washington, on December 9th, and a month later chose Stanford University.
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At some point in time, head coach Chris Petersen will need to thwart Stanford’s hold on Washington offensive linemen. Many hope Sarrell would be that occasion.
It began in 2012, when offensive guard, Josh Garnett, the top prospect in the state of Washington left the state to become a focal point of the Stanford offensive line. As a result, Foster Sarrell naturally gravitated to Garnett when seeking advice. Per ESPN’s Erik McKinney, that advice came honestly:
“There are definitely probably some similar situations with that last recruitment between Stanford and UW,” Sarell said about his talks with Garnett “Everybody is always talking about keeping guys in state, stay at home and play for the home crowd.”
Cardinals of a feather…
On one hand, the recruit who left the state for Stanford convinced Sarrell to do the same. On the other hand, Washington is not without it’s own reputation for standouts on the offensive line. As a matter of fact, the Huskies had an incredible run in 2016 with every expectation to improve this season.
Ultimately, the keys to success are not in the hands of the rankings of recruits for the Washington Husky football program, but rather in their willingness to learn from the coaching staff. The hold upon Washington recruits by Stanford University was not severed by the recruiting class of 2017.
But eventually it will be.