Josh Connerly Jr. is living out West.
Not just Washington.
After extending his recruits more than two months after National Signing Day, Connerly, a five-star offensive tackle from Rainier Beach High School, announced Friday that he will be playing his college football at Oregon.
And for Coach Dan Lanning and the Ducks, Connerly is definitely worth the wait. The 6-foot-5, 283-pound athlete is ranked as a five-star recruit, No. 1 offensive tackle in the nation, No. 1 player in Washington State, and No. 8 overall prospect in 2022. Class by 247Sports. He chose Oregon over fellow finalists USC, Miami, Michigan, Oklahoma and Washington.
For UW, it marks a familiar defeat. The Huskies have failed to sign the state’s top player in each of the last two classes, insisted Connerly and defensive lineman JT Tuimolou (who signed with Ohio State in 2021).
In addition, eight blue-chip recruits with Washington offers have left the state in the last two cycles – Connerly (USC), wide receiver Tobias Merriweather (Notre Dame), offensive lineman Dave Ewley (Oregon), offensive lineman Malik Egbo (Texas). ), Tuimoloau (Ohio State), wide receiver Emeka Egbuka (Ohio State), linebacker Julian Simon (USC) and wide receiver Lonyatta Alexander Jr. (who signed with Arizona State but transferred to UW this off-season).
Connerly’s commitment is particularly intimidating, given the number of offensive linemen he has signed elsewhere. UW offered five in-state offensive linemen in the 2022 cycle – Connerly (USC), Iuli (Oregon), Agbo (Texas), O’Dea’s Mark Nabou (Texas A&M) and Graham-Kaposi’s Vega Ione (Texas A&M). Penn State) – and selected for each of the competitive programs.
In Connerly’s case, this is despite UW retaining offensive line coach Scott Huff and hiring Courtney Morgan, former Michigan director of player personnel – one of Connerly’s primary recruiters along with the Wolverines.
Meanwhile, UW signed a class ranked 11thth Pac-12 and 95. inth In the Nation – Featuring solo O-Line signer in three-star Arizona prospect Parker Brailsford. The Husky currently has two three-star California commits in the 2023 cycle, driving back Tybow Rogers and wide receiver Keith Reynolds.
So, yes: UW is struggling to build a figurative fence around state borders.
But while there is work to be done, new UW coach Kallen DeBoer has at least identified the issue.
“We have to keep the kids of Washington here in Washington,” DeBoer said during his introductory news conference on November 30. “We have to keep them here and not give people across the country, or wherever it may be on the West Coast, come and take our players and our student-athletes.”
Washington State has produced eight five-star recruits over the past 10 cycles, and just two of them — 2020 Kennedy Catholic quarterback Sam Huard and EDGE Sewell Smalls — have signed with the home-state Huskies. It’s more of a Chris Peterson problem or a Jimmy Lake problem or a Kallen DeBoer problem (or, for that matter, a UW problem).
Beyond victory and defeat, it can also be a name, image and likeness problem.
“With a world of zero, more things are now piled on top of it,” continued DeBoer, whose Huskies rely on the “Montlake Futures” collective in the arms race for NIL deals. “How are you selling those things? And how are we developing those things into our program? There’s a lot of different levels of it now than before, and you’ve got to get the right people in place and then everyone. Have to align and everyone is putting their everything in it.”
The Huskies will have another opportunity to reverse the trend in 2023, when Tacoma Lincoln defensive lineman Jaden Wayne makes his college decision. The 6-5, 245-pounder and five-star recruit took an unofficial visit to Washington last month, and capped a subsequent tweet with the hashtag: “#LoyalToTheSoil.”
Huskies need more than a hashtag to keep kids at home.
They need zero resources, facilities, branding, educational plans and flexible relationships with tireless employers.
And then, they need to win.