The wait is almost over.
For UW football fans, the season is still more than five months away — but the content chasm is beginning to close. The Huskies will hold their annual pro day on March 30, before spring practices officially commence on April 7. The spring game — which, it appears, may allow limited fan attendance — is scheduled for May 1 as well.
Until then, we’ll have to settle for another string of questions and answers. Let’s open the UW football mailbag once again.
Should fans be concerned about recruiting under Lake or is everything going swimmingly? — Jodie Skywalker
The reason I love this question is because it so perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to wade through the murky waters of Sports Twitter in 2021: Is something terrible, or is it great? Is it one extreme, or the other? Is it black, or is it white? It couldn’t possibly be gray.
But, to address the question: fans should be concerned.
After signing four consecutive top-25 classes, UW’s 2021 crop was ranked 36th nationally and sixth in the Pac-12 by the 247Sports Composite (though it’s worth remembering that the Huskies had room for only 15 signees, which inevitably had a significant effect on their position). In arguably the most talent-rich cycle in the history of the state, they missed on five-star wide receiver Emeka Egbuka (Ohio State), four-star outside linebacker Julien Simon (USC) and four-star wide receiver Junior Alexander (Arizona State).
Oh, and unsigned Eastside Catholic five-star defensive lineman J.T. Tuimoloau — arguably the best player in the nation — is almost certainly headed out of state as well.
For UW coach Jimmy Lake and Co., the 2021 cycle represented an enormous opportunity to establish a national recruiting reputation and effectively build a fence around the borders of the state. Instead, UW football fans were left wanting.
Plus, while it’s still early in the 2022 cycle, UW has just two total commits — four-star wide receiver Germie Bernard and three-star tight end Chance Bogan — and Liberty (Nevada) High School defensive tackle Sir Mells and athlete Anthony Jones both recently de-committed.
But now, for those pesky shades of gray …
While UW inarguably underwhelmed in 2021, it did hang on to five-star Husky quarterback legacy Sam Huard — who threw for 495 yards and seven touchdowns in the first three quarters of a 49-14 Kennedy Catholic win over Tahoma last weekend. And two of those touchdowns were scored by another UW signee in four-star wide receiver Jabez Tinae.
In 2021, you need more than a quarterback to compete for national titles — but, if you glance down the list of recent College Football Playoff participants, transcendent success often requires a star under center. And there’s reason to believe Huard can be that for UW.
As for the slow start in 2022, UW is one of seven Pac-12 programs with two or fewer verbal commits — so I wouldn’t sweat the numbers just yet. The Huskies have offered 65 prospects in 2022, and 19 have committed elsewhere. Of the 10 in-state players UW has offered, the only committed recruit is Bogan — who chose Washington. So, in other words, there’s still time to make a statement.
But perhaps not at quarterback — where four of the five recruits UW offered have committed to other programs. The one holdout is three-star St. John Bosco (California) quarterback Katin Houser.
More importantly, CBS Sports reported this week that the NCAA Football Oversight Committee will recommend the ongoing recruiting dead period transition to a “quiet period” on June 1 — which would allow programs to host recruits on campus and conduct camps.
For UW, campus visits have always been essential. Last April, roughly a month into the indefinite dead period, offensive line coach Scott Huff lamented that “it’s a phenomenal day in Seattle right now and I couldn’t think of anything better than being out there, in Husky Stadium, having a practice with some kids on unofficial visits watching a bald eagle fly over and dive bomb fish in Lake Washington. You move the needle that way, and they can watch me coach and connecting that way, but we’re not having that.”
Bluntly, given their unique and significant strengths, the dead period inhibited the Huskies more than some other programs. And in the 2022 cycle, at least, a return to a more traditional recruiting calendar could result in significant strides.
But this coaching staff is paid an enormous amount to recruit and win games, so there can be no excuses. Lake operates in a results business, and he’ll be judged by wins and losses.
In that way, at least, there really are no shades of gray.
What does UW’s transfer situation look like when stacked up with the rest of the Pac-12? — Gavin Doomscroller
Good question! When players transfer out of a program, it can be tempting for fans to conclude that something is inherently wrong with that program — that the foundation is crumbling and an exodus is inevitable.
Instead, it’s likely the result of college football’s transfer culture.
Take the Washington Huskies, for example. This offseason, five scholarship players — quarterbacks Jacob Sirmon and Ethan Garbers and wide receivers Ty Jones, Jordan Chin and Puka Nacua — entered the transfer portal. Isaiah Strong, a freshman walk-on defensive back, previously entered the portal as well.
Is that number unusual? Yes, but not for the reason you might expect. According to 247Sports’ transfer portal tracker, UW’s six transfer portal entrants are tied with USC for the second least of any Pac-12 program — behind only Stanford (2). If we look in the same state, Washington State has had a league-high 20 players — 14 of whom were ranked as three-star prospects or better — enter the transfer portal, while adding just three outside transfers.
Last month, Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger reported that the average Power Five program presently had 8.5 scholarship players in the transfer portal — significantly more than the Huskies’ five.
Of course, the Huskies have also added four players from the portal this offseason — quarterback Patrick O’Brien, wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk, outside linebacker Jeremiah Martin and defensive back Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles.
Here’s the full list of Pac-12 transfer numbers, excluding players who entered the portal before opting to stay with the same school. We also noted how many departures were ranked as three-star prospects or better, which implies they’re probably scholarship players (and likely more significant talent losses).
Program | Total portal departures (number of 3-star or higher departures) | Portal additions
Arizona State | 13 departures (7) | 6 additions
Arizona | 12 departures (12) | 14 additions
Cal | 9 departures (8) | 1 addition
Colorado | 9 departures (9) | 3 additions
Oregon | 10 departures (10) | 0 additions
Oregon State | 11 departures (9) | 4 additions
Stanford | 2 departures (1) | 0 additions
UCLA | 8 departures (8) | 6 additions
USC | 6 departures (6) | 4 additions
Utah | 13 departures (12) | 5 additions
Washington | 6 departures (6) | 4 additions
Washington State | 20 departures (14) | 3 additions
The lesson? Transfer portal departures are not necessarily the sign of a broken program. In fact, the opposite can be true. Alabama and Clemson, two perennial powerhouses, have both had six outgoing transfers this offseason — the same number as UW.