Josh Conley, Jr. stays out of the West.
Just not Washington.
After extending his enlistment for more than two months past National Signing Day, Connerley — a five-star attacker from Rainier Beach High School — announced Friday that he will play college football in Oregon.
And for trainer Dan Lanning and the ducks, Connerley is definitely worth the wait. The 6-foot-5, 283-pound athlete is rated a five-star recruit, the nation’s number one offensive tackle, Washington State’s number one offensive tackle, and potential No. 8 overall in the 2022 Class 247 sport. He chose Oregon over his fellow finalists USC, Miami, Michigan, Oklahoma and Washington.
For UW, this represents a familiar defeat. The Husky family failed to sign the state’s best player in each of the previous two categories, speaking of Connerly and defensive lineman JT Tuemolu (who signed with Ohio State in 2021).
Furthermore, eight excellent recruits have left with offers from Washington State in the past two tournaments – Connerley (Oregon), wide receiver Tobias Meriwether (Notre Dame), offensive lineman Dave Ewley (Oregon), offensive lineman Malik Agbo (Texas), Tuimoloau (Oregon) Ohio State), wide receiver Emeka Egbuka (Ohio State), linebacker Julian Simon (USC) and wide receiver Lonyatta Alexander Jr. (who signed with Arizona State but moved to UW this out of season).
Connerly’s commitment is particularly scarring, given the large number of offensive airline men who have fallen foul of elsewhere. The University of Washington showcased five in-state offensive navigators in the 2022 tournament—Connerly (Oregon), Eolie (Oregon), Agbo (Texas), O’Dea Mark Napo (Texas A&M) and Graham Kapucin Vega Ewan (Penn State)—and each selected programs The competition.
In Connerly’s case, that’s despite UW retaining offensive line coach Scott Hof and hiring former Michigan head coach Courtney Morgan—one of Connerley’s primary recruits with the Wolverines.
Meanwhile, UW signed a category at number 11y In Pac-12 and 95y In the Nation – Featuring one signature Arizona prospect, the three-star Parker Brailsford. The Husky family currently owns two of the three All-Stars in California in the 2023 cycle, back with Tibo Rogers and wide future Keith Reynolds.
So, yes: UW is struggling to build a metaphorical fence around the state border.
But while there is work to be done, new UW coach Calin Deborre has at least identified the problem.
We have to keep the Washington kids here in Washington. We have to keep them here and not let people across the country, or wherever they are on the West Coast, come and take our players and student-athletes,” DeBoer said during his inaugural press conference on November 30.
Washington State has produced eight five-star recruits in the past 10 tournaments, and only two of them—Kennedy’s Catholic 2020 Sam Howard and Edge Ripper Savile Smalls—have signed with the state’s huskies. It’s more of a Chris Petersen problem, a Jimmy Lake problem, or a Callen Deborough problem (or, for that matter, a UW problem).
In addition to gains and losses, it can also be a problem with name, image, and similarity.
“With the world of NIL now, there is more stuff stacked on top of it,” continued DeBoer, who both rely on the Montlake Futures group in the arms race for NIL deals. “How do you sell these things? And how do we develop these things in our software? There are so many different levels of it now than it used to be, and you have to get the right people in their places and then everyone gets along and everyone pours everything they have into it.”
Huskys will have another chance to reverse the trend in 2023, when Tacoma Lincoln linebacker Jayden Wayne makes his college decision. The 6-5, 245-pounder, five-star recruit made an unofficial visit to Washington last month, capping a subsequent tweet with the hashtag: “#LoyalToTheSoil.”
Husky dogs need more than one hashtag to keep kids at home.
They need resources, facilities, brands, academic plans, and flexible relationships with relentless recruiters.
And then, they need to win.