The plethora of recruiting news once reserved for the first week of February is now a prime piece of college football’s December calendar. A new early signing period 72 hours long allows high school athletes to shut down the recruiting process and sign National Letters of Intent to officially join their favorite program.
For bowl-bound teams like the Washington Huskies the early signing dates between Dec. 20 -22 means coaches must balance their game planning with last minute phone calls and e-mails, hopefully turning prep players spokenl pledges into written commitments.
“I think we’re fine. During the week before bowl practices we’re usually out recruiting and on weekends we have practice,” said UW head coach Chris Petersen. “In the mean time we find spots to game plan. We looked at the calendar and will have ample time to get the right plays in for our guys and ample time to recruit.”
There has been a noticeable flurry of players decommiting due to the number of coaching changes, especially in the Pac-12 Conference. Jonathan Smith left Washington to take over the Oregon State program. Chip Kelly is now at UCLA, Herm Edwards in charge at Arizona State. Oregon did the smart thing by promoting offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal, in an effort to keep former coach Willie Taggert’s recruits true to the Ducks.
Rumors, or "fake news" swirled on social media a few weeks ago suggesting Chris Petersen was in Tennessee, interested in the Vol’s head coaching job. Petersen called the stories “comical,” but said a few recruits were actually concerned enough to phone his office to have their fears quelled.
If you believe the college football recruiting sources like Scout.com and Rivals.com the Huskies will do fairly well in the early signing period. At the top of the list appears to be a pair of blue-chip quarterbacks Jacob Sirmon from Bothell High School and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho’s Colson Yankoff. He’s a player who had been verbally commited to Oregon in June, then switched allegiances to the Dawgs on Dec. 12.
With most UW football fans expecting Jake Browning to return for his senior campaign Sirmon and Yankoff could both have a year to learn the playbook and grow stronger for the rigors of college football in the 2019 season.
What’s also noticeable is how the success and consistency of the Washington program has allowed Petersen’s staff to open some recruiting doors on four-star players who might not have considered the Seattle school in the past. A prime example is offensive lineman Sam Taimani from Salt Lake City, Utah. He received numerous offers but says he felt a strong connection with Husky assistants Scott Huff and Ikaika Malloe.
We’re hesitant to ever put too much stock in ratings for high school athletes. As we’ve come to learn in college football, especially during the Chris Petersen era at U-Dub, it’s all about “OKGs”, a specific type of player who fits the Husky system. You also need to wait four to five years to see whether they improved in the program. Only then can you determine whether the scouting services got it right.