To quote Newman, Jerry Seinfeld’s fictionalized neighbor and United States postal worker:
“The mail never stops. It just keeps coming and coming and coming. There’s never a let-up. It’s relentless!”
Even after a bye week.
So, before 2-3 Washington returns to Husky Stadium to host UCLA in its Homecoming game on Saturday night, let’s open our mailbag and see what we find.
Of course, disappointing on-field results will always impact recruiting in some tangible way. But considering UW’s 2022 class currently comprises just 10 commits and ranks 53rd nationally and seventh in the Pac-12, I’m not sure the Huskies would realistically fall much further. (That class, by the way, is not expected to extend past 15 signees, due to UW’s overabundance of freshmen and sophomores.) As for 2023 and 2024 recruits, it’s more important that the staff continues to develop lasting relationships and infuse a belief that this program is (and will be) better than its present state.
On the topic of whether a down season would produce a transfer exodus … well, that’s bound to happen to some degree at every program, regardless of result. Eleven players transferred out of Alabama — the reigning national champion — in the 2021 cycle, mostly prospects who were understandably buried on the bench. UW, by comparison, had nine players transfer away last offseason, and added five transfers as well (nickelback Brendan Radley-Hiles, outside linebacker Jeremiah Martin, wide receivers Giles Jackson and Ja’Lynn Polk, and quarterback Patrick O’Brien).
So, yes, some current Huskies will inevitably land in the transfer portal. The key is for UW to hold onto the players expected to positively impact the program both now and in the future. Of the last crop, linebacker Josh Calvert, safety Brandon McKinney and wide receivers Jordan Chin, Marquis Spiker, Ty Jones and Austin Osborne all left because — realistically — they were going to struggle to see the field this fall and beyond. In a sense, those are necessary departures to continue to strengthen the Huskies’ roster.
It’s the other transfers — wide receiver Puka Nacua going to BYU, and quarterback Ethan Garbers going to UCLA — that should sting, even in the current climate. Those are the losses Jimmy Lake and Co. can’t continue to take.
Which is all to say, a UW football fan shouldn’t panic if Draco Bynum, or Mason West, or Noa Ngalu opts for the transfer portal (like backup kicker Tim Horn did last week).
But if Rome Odunze leaves, or Sav’ell Smalls leaves, or Jalen McMillan leaves, or Sam Huard leaves … well, that’s when we’ll raise the red flags.
It’s silly to assume, because Sam Huard is not currently a better quarterback than Dylan Morris — which, for the record, he isn’t — that he will never be. Though it may not be on the timeline UW football fans demand, Huard is developing. He’s improving. He’s growing. He’s receiving valuable backup reps. He’s digesting the playbook and learning how best to diagnose defenses, day by day.
Huard has wanted to play quarterback at the University of Washington his entire life. He verbally committed more than two years before he signed with the Huskies. Sheldon Cross, his head coach at Kennedy Catholic High School, told The Times this offseason that “there’s not a guy that cares about the Huskies and wants to do right by the Husky fans and lead them to national championships (more than Sam). It’s important to him. He just wants to do right by them (UW fans). It’s not like he feels those expectations from them. He has higher expectations to do good by them.”
So, with all that said, would he really want to transfer after losing a quarterback competition as a true freshman to a much more experienced player (which, by the way, was expected all along)?
Of course, anything is possible. But I expect an improved Huard to push for the starting quarterback job next spring and summer. I expect a kid who has worked for years to wear those colors to do everything in his power to improve and play.
And then, if Morris beats him out again in 2022, we can talk about a transfer. But let’s cross that bridge if/when we come to it (and we may never come to it).
To me, here’s the more immediately intriguing question: If UW is eliminated from bowl eligibility at some point this season, would Lake turn to Huard, to see what he has?
You need to lighten up, Airwolf. And while I don’t have the time or expertise to effectively answer your question, allow me to leave you with a thematically applicable joke, initially uttered by the masked anti-hero Rorschach in Alan Moore’s iconic graphic novel, “Watchmen”:
“Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, ‘Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.’ Man bursts into tears. Says, ‘But doctor … I am Pagliacci.’ ”
Here’s hoping that helps — or for your sake, that the Huskies find a way to beat UCLA.