For college football fans who choose to emotionally invest in their school’s annual recruiting class, be warned: Four-star running back commit Chris Warren chose the University of Texas over the University of Washington on Wednesday after flipping a coin to determine his college choice.
Such is the preposterous nature of national signing day, when 18-year-olds make official their college destination.
Recruits commit and de-commit. Coaches offer scholarships and pull them. Fax machines for one day are again relevant.
Warren’s high school coach actually said the coin flip was a stunt, while Warren maintained it helped him decide.
In Washington, where the two Pac-12 Conference schools are coming off disappointing seasons — Washington State went 3-9, Washington 8-6 — there is reason for Huskies supporters to be happy and Cougars fans to wonder what the heck happened.
Despite the Warren development, Washington pulled in a respectable group by the metrics of websites dedicated to judging such matters, with Scout.com ranking the Huskies’ class 23rd in the country and fifth in the Pac-12. Rivals.com ranked it 30th nationally and seventh in the conference.
Both agree that, among UW’s 24 signees, Folsom, CA., QB Jake Browning is coach Chris Petersen’s best get. In 2014, Browning threw 91 touchdown passes — tying a national record — and a state-record 5,790 yards. A consensus first-team All-America selection, Browning completed 1,191 of 1,708 pass attempts for 16,775 yards and a national-record 229 touchdowns over his three-year career at Folsom High School. All marks set state records.
Scout.com dubbed him the eighth best QB in the country.
“First and foremost Browning is such a student of the game,” Petersen said. “I don’t know if that’s first and foremost. He’s got talent. He’s been throwing the ball forever.”
Browning enrolled at UW in January. He is expected to compete with incumbent QB Cyler Miles for the starting job.
“He’s got all the intangibles you like to see in a QB and we’re just excited that he’s here now getting dialed into how we do things,” he said.
The Huskies also cleaned up locally, signing eight players from the state, including Marysville-Pilchuck CB/RB Austin Joyner, a former WSU verbal commit who in 2014 was named The Seattle Times Defensive Player of the Year and Gatorade state Player of the Year; four-star O’Dea RB Myles Gaskin, four-star Bellevue OL Henry Roberts, four-star WR Chico McClatcher from Federal Way and four-star DT Benning Potoa’e out of Lakes of Tacoma.
They didn’t have any signing day drama.
“Really fun day,” Petersen said. “Really anticlimactic in terms of nothing dramatic happened. That’s how we like it.”
The vibe was different east of the mountains.
At Washington State, embattled coach Mike Leach a month ago had a 2015 recruiting class ranked as high as 23rd nationally by Scout.com. But down the stretch, the Cougars lost out on three-star LB Jonah Moi (flipped to Oregon), four-star WR Taeon Mason (flipped to San Jose State), three-star WR Deontay Burnett (USC), three-star WR Dahu Green (Oklahoma), four-star LB Kyahhva Tezino (San Diego State), three-star DT Dillon Faamatau (Arizona State) and three-star CB Willie Sykes (Arkansas).
All were at one point WSU verbal commits before changing their minds, sometimes more than once.
Mason and Burnett flipped Wednesday.
Part of the reason: Outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons, WSU’s lead recruiter in the Los Angeles area, accepted a job as the receivers coach at Oklahoma, citing family reasons and the desire to work under OU coach Bob Stoops.
Leach confirmed the move during his Wednesday press conference, though the rumor began circulating last week.
Simmons worked for Leach at Texas Tech for 10 years, then after a stint at East Carolina, joined Leach in Pullman when “The Pirate” accepted the WSU job after the Cougars’ 4-8 2011 season.
“I don’t know how it affected the players,” Leach said of Simmons’ departure. “That’s difficult to say and it’s hard to gauge because this whole business of commitment has a lot of shades and degrees to it.
“(Simmons) has been aware of the opportunity and just recently decided that that’s what he was going to do, so any underlying impact in all that is anybody’s guess,” Leach said.
According to Scout.com, the Cougars’ class ranked a respectable 43rd in the country, ninth in the Pac-12. Rivals.com had them tabbed lower, at 51st nationally and 10th in the conference.
With WSU’s class down to 22, Leach said he expects a few more players to sign. LB Eddie Rudinski out of Oaks Christian High School has yet to fax in his NLI.
The Cougars will at least get an immediate infusion of talent on defense, an area in which they struggled mightily last season. WSU signed five junior college players, four on defense, with CB Treshon Broughton (Riverside CA., Community College), S Shalom Luani (City College of San Francisco), DE Jeremiah Mitchell (Riverside CC) and LB Aaron Porter (Cerritos, CA., College) are expected to compete for playing time next season.
They also got an unexpected commitment Wednesday from DE T.J. Fehoko out of Murray, UT. He chose the Cougars over reported offers from Nevada and North Carolina State.
“I’m never surprised when someone picks our school,” Leach said.
Despite the late de-commits, Leach was adamant this recruiting class isn’t a bust.
“I think this is the best class we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Leach said.
University of Washington commits
* = Already enrolled
*QB Jake Browning (6-2, 210), Folsom High School (Folsom, CA)
RB Myles Gaskin (5-9, 185), O’Dea High School
OL Henry Roberts (6-5, 270), Bellevue High School
OL Trey Adams (6-7, 270), Wenatchee High School
OL Jared Hilbers (6-7, 275), Beaverton High School (OR.)
WR Chico McClatcher (5-9, 185), Federal Way High School
WR Andre Baccellia (5-11, 170), Westlake High School (Westlake Village, CA.)
WR Isaiah Renfro (6-2, 185) Sierra Canyon High School (Chatsworth, CA.)
TE Mike Neal (6-4, 225), Etiwanda High School (Etiwanda, CA.)
DL Bryce Sterk (6-5, 230), Lynden High School
DL Benning Potoa’e (6-4, 265), Lakes High School
DL Ricky McCoy (6-4, 273), Roosevelt High School (Fresno, CA.)
DL Myles Rice (6-4, 225), George Bush High School (Richmond, TX.)
DL Jason Scrempos (6-6, 250), Milpitas High School (Milpitas, CA.)
LB Tevis Bartlett (6-3, 215), Cheyenne East High School (Cheyenne, WY.)
LB Justis Warren (6-3, 225), Lincoln High School (Tacoma, WA.)
LB D.J. Beavers (6-1, 205), Crespi Carmelite High School (Encino, CA.)
LB Ben Burr-Kirven (6-0, 200), Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton, CA.)
LB Kyler Manu (6-1, 220) Highland High School (Pocatello, ID.)
CB Austin Joyner (5-10, 186), Marysville-Pilchuck High School
CB Jordan Miller (6-1, 175), Oceanside High School (Oceanside, CA)
*S Ezekiel Turner (6-3, 200), Los Angeles Pierce College
ATH Quinten Pounds (6-1, 175), Cypress High School (Cypress, CA.)
LS A.J. Carty (6-3, 250), Servite High School (Anaheim, CA.)
Washington State University commits
*QB Tyler Hilinski (6-3, 200), Upland High School (Upland, CA.)
RB James Williams (5-11, 185), Burbank High School (Burbank, CA.)
*WR Kyrin Priester (6-1, 185), Clemson
WR C.J. Dimry (6-6, 210), Saddleback College (Mission Viejo, CA.)
WR Kyle Sweet (6-1, 175), Santa Margarita Catholic High School (Santa Margarita, CA.)
OG Cedroc Bigge-Duren (6-6, 295), Oceanside High School (Oceanside, CA.)
OG Noah Myers (6-5, 300), Las Lomas High School (Walnut, Creek, CA.)
OT Davis Perrott (6-5, 270), Mountain Point High School (Phoenix)
OT Joseph Price (6-6, 287), East Valley High School (Redlands, CA)
OT Amosa Sakaria (6-3, 280), Tafuna High School (Pago Pago, American Samoa)
DE Hunter Mattox (6-4, 260), Sierra Canyon High School (Chatsworth, CA.)
DE Jeremiah Mitchell (6-5, 260), Riverside Community College (Riverside, CA.)
DE T.J. Fehoko (6-1, 265), Cottonwood High School (Salt Lake City, Utah)
DT Thomas Toki (6-0, 300), St. Francis High School (Mountainview, CA.)
LB Logan Tago (6-3. 205), Samoana High School (Pago Pago, American Samoa)
LB Aaron Porter (6-3, 240), Cerritos Junior College (Cerritos, CA.)
LB Eddie Rudinski (6-2, 220), Oaks Christian High School (Westlake Village, CA.)
LB Nnamdi Oguayo (6-3, 210), High Point High School (Beltsville, MD.)
CB Darrien Molton (5-10, 165), Chaparral High School (Temecula, CA.)
S Kameron Powell (5-10, 175), Upland High School (Upland, CA.)
CB Treshon Broughton (6-1, 175), Riverside Community College (Riverside, CA.)
*S Shalom Luani (6-1, 200), City College of San Francisco
PK Matt Abramo (6-2, 170), Casa Grande High School (Petaluma, CA.)