For all the good that Steve Sarkisian has done cleaning up the mess left by Tyrone Willingham at the University of Washington, he's been largely unable to keep top recruits to stay home. Sarkisian recognized the problem and upgraded the recruiting prowess of the coaching staff in a major way with the hires of defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi and defensive coach Peter Sirmon.
Despite that, Washington was still unable to pull in the top kids from the state. Of the six Rivals.com four-star or better players of the last cycle (Washington produces a surprisingly small amount of elite talent), Washington landed only one. This year, five-star quarterback Max Browne, the top player in the state, has already pledged to the USC Trojans.
Jack Follman, of SB Nation's excellent Pac-12 site Pacific Takes, has some tips to improve the Huskies' recruiting:
So what can Washington do to turn the tide and stop the exodus other than simply winning more games?
First thing first (literally), offer in-state guys first. There was a lot of made of the Huskies taking too long to offer local offensive lineman Walker Williams and how it may have affected his friends in the class of 2012 (Williams' workout partners are Josh Garnett and Zach Banner). Williams is far from a slam dunk as far as a college player, but if the two-time defending Big Ten champs come in and offer a guy down the road from you before you do, you probably messed up. If there are two to three prospects you are after of about the same level and two are from California and one is from Washington, the Washington guy needs to get offered first. You might swing and miss sometimes with a prospect who doesn't pan out but it will be easily forgiven by fans.
The hiring of new, young assistants with great recruiting reputations is clearly an enormous step in the right direction that already paid fantastic dividends in 2012. However, one more thing needs to be added to the staff, an assistant who is from the state of Washington who went to Washington, who can sell local kids on why they should go there. Marques Tuisasopo or Lawyer Milloy would be great options, or simply a graduate assistant who can grow with the program.
Schedule a yearly high school showcase at the new Husky Stadium once it opens, or better yet, the state championships. Make the new Husky Stadium a place that high school kids already want to play in and familiarize them with the program, facilities and staff. The state championship would also be right when recruiting is starting to kick into full gear.
This makes a lot of sense. In particular, despite the internet making the world a smaller place every day, Washington should hold the advantage in evaluating in-state prospects faster than any other school, and thus should offer first. If Washington continues to be slow to offer, I would question if it really trusts its evaluations and is actually waiting to see if other schools will offer before extending one of its own.