Washington’s Recruiting “Misses” Indicate Future Momentum

Washington's recruiting misses should not be viewed as a negative but as buzz for the program being on track on the recruiting trail.

Dijon Lee Jr., Smith Orogbo, Josiah Sharma, and Donovan Olugbode each included Washington as a finalist for their commitment decisions. However, each of these class of 2025 four- and five-star recruits committed elsewhere. There have been a handful of other recruits that have followed suit by placing the Huskies on their list but pledging to another program. But these recruiting misses should not be considered “losses” for Jedd Fisch and Washington. Rather, some of the nation’s most highly-touted recruits including Washington with the likes of Alabama, Texas, Georgia, and Texas A&M is a testament to what Fisch and his recruiting staff have built, or re-built, in a short time. 

The Highly-Touted Talent

Washington was in the running for five-star Lee. Lee is listed as the number four cornerback in the nation and the top player from California. His 247Sports composite ranking indicates that he’s the top overall player west of Texas. Lee officially visited Washington at the end of May and included the Huskies in his final six. His six included Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Texas A&M, USC, and Washington. The pedigree of that list speaks for itself, but Lee landed at Alabama.

A wave of four stars also had their eye on Washington. Orogbo, Sharma, and Olugbode were among that list. They committed to Texas, Oregon, and Missouri, respectively. Washington was also after Kaleb Edwards, Daryus Dixson, and Matai Tagoa’i on the recruiting trail. These four players are four-stars and each included Washington in their final list of schools. They chose Alabama, Penn State, and USC, respectively. Similarly, the programs that won these recruiting battles are programs that perennially recruit among the best. 

Recruiting Inconsistency at Washington

Washington had back-to-back top-20 recruiting classes in 2019 and 2020. In those two years, the Huskies finished 15th and 17th in the nation. But since then, it has been inconsistent at best for the Big Ten’s newest team. They dropped to 30th in 2021 and then to 95th in 2022. The following year featured the 26th-ranked class, and in 2024 Washington finished with the number 47 class nationally. Inconsistency is the best way to describe it. 

There were so many factors that contributed to these ups and downs. Washington is on its fourth head coach and coaching staff since 2019. The constant turnover resulted in a program going from conference champions in 2018, to sliding to a four-win 2021 season and climbing back to a National Title appearance in 2023. Recruiting has mirrored this fluctuation, and it is evident in the class rankings.

When Fisch took over the program in January, he said recruiting would be his priority. Former Athletic Director Troy Dannen hired him because he is a “maniacal” recruiter. At Arizona, Fisch and staff put together a top 25 class in 2022. That class included Jonah Coleman and Ephesians Prysock, now both at Washington. The year prior, Arizona’s recruiting was outside the top 75. At the time, Arizona was a place that struggled to win since the mid-2010s. After just three seasons, Fisch steered that program into a top-10 football team in 2023. His success was founded on recruiting. Washington doesn’t quite need the same rebuild on the field, but it needs to find consistency in recruiting. Consistency is something it hasn’t had since the Chris Petersen era. 

Back On Track Already

Fisch has been the head coach at Washington for six months. When he took over, Washington’s recruiting class had zero commitments. All previously committed players had backed out of their pledge to evaluate the coaching situation. As of this writing in the first week of July, Washington’s class is now ranked 20th nationally with 20 total commits. Five of whom are four stars. The class contains the top two players from the school’s home state and the top player from its rival state of Oregon. 

As for the recruiting misses, those should be viewed as stepping stones for the program going forward. Washington hosted 20 four-star recruits and one five-star recruit this Spring. Just five of those players have committed to the Huskies thus far. While that percentage might not be as high as Husky fans hoped, putting that into perspective can reveal just how much Fisch and staff have done in a short time. 

Signal for What’s to Come

There are still a handful of other uncommitted four-star recruits who are expected to have Washington among their finalists in this class. Four-star wide receiver Andrew Marsh was sporting Husky receiver gloves at the Rivals Five Star event in June. He visited Montlake back in May. Phillip Bell III and Dylan Robinson are a couple of top-20 players from California who also visited Washington in May but have yet to commit.

The “Be A Pro” mantra and NFL-experienced coaching staff are generating buzz around the Washington program. Fisch and staff are selling the Washington experience of big-city opportunity, pro-oriented mentality, and Power Conference exposure in the Big Ten. It drew dozens of highly-touted recruits to campus after a Winter of uncertainty. The recruiting misses aren’t a bad sign. Rather, these misses are a sign of the ship being steered in the right direction.

 

 

Photo courtesy: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

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