Whenever a coach makes a jump up to a higher profile gig, there will be questions as to how they are going to handle recruiting.
Chris Petersen has more than answered the questions about how he and his staff can recruit with the success they have had in landing the top players in the state of Washington. They stamped it again with another huge commitment from Bellevue cornerback Isaiah Gilchrist.
He's just another on a run of local blue chip players the Huskies have landed since Petersen has taken over after Steve Sarkisian's departure for USC. In the three classes since Petersen's arrival, there have been eleven composite 4 or 5 star recruits from the state. UW has signed or has commitments from seven of them. Included in those seven were offensive tackle Kaleb McGarry and safety Budda Baker, who were both committed to other schools in 2014 before Petersen and his staff flipped them to the Huskies. Sarkisian landed only five during his five years in Seattle.
It's obvious UW doesn't have the local base that USC or UCLA has with all of the talent in southern California every year, so landing as many blue chippers as they can who already have a built-in affinity for the Huskies is a huge deal. With these kids growing up and not seeing the Huskies as the dominant program they were in the early '90s, it makes what Petersen is doing even more impressive.
Other teams in the conference like Colorado and Utah have both struggled to land the top local prospects from their respective states. They are in a similar boat to Washington in that there are significantly fewer 4 and 5 stars from their regions. Since they both joined the Pac-12 in 2011, Colorado has landed only one composite 4 star player from its own state and the Utes have landed only two.
Utah went 9-4 last season and two of their losses were by a combined four points. Colorado was 2-10, but four of their losses to teams within the conference were by a combined fifteen points. If they were able to add a few more difference makers in recruiting, the Utes could have had an 11 win season and ended up in the Pac-12 championship game. Ditto for the Buffs who could have been bowl eligible for the first time in forever.
The margin for error is so much slimmer for programs that aren't in talent rich recruiting areas. If they are going to become a perennial contender in the Pac-12 North, UW is going to need to keep landing the local talent like they have. Budda Baker is already a difference maker. A player like true freshman Trey Adams looks like he is going to be one at left tackle one day. Isaiah Gilchrist looks like he can be one as well when he gets starts wearing the purple and gold.
He has the athletic traits to be an elite cornerback in the conference and if UW wants to climb out of "Seven win Steve" territory as a program, they are going to do it by continuing to land players like him.