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Washington & WSU in-state recruiting trending up

"Natty or bust!" on one end or, "I knew it, [insert coach here] is an incompetent fool/rival team mole/Satan worshiper/communist".

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After signing day, the fan bases of any given school are likely busy bellowing one of those two things. What can I say? College football fans are a bit dramatic. And although California has the glamour and Eugene is saturated with flash, some under-the-radar kids from north of the Columbia River are quietly making an impact closer to home.

Purple and Gold

On the current roster of UW, 36 players hail from within the state, including walk-ons and former walk-ons who have since earned a scholarship. Of this year's recruiting class - 17 commits plus 2015 grayshirt, Myles Rice - five are from Washington.

In the top six Washington high school recruits per ESPN, four of them are coming to UW, the notable exception being Jacob Eason and #5 Isaac Garcia, who's going down to Oregon State. Of the players ranked #7 - #12 who didn't sign with UW, only 1 had the offer to decline in the first place - Evan Weaver, who will be off to Cal.

The Seattle Times lately noted this trend: the top home-grown prospects are, essentially for the first time since the recruiting classes for whom Don James was a recent memory, electing to stay home. Whereas Sark didn't pay attention to Northwest recruits and Willingham couldn't have gotten them if he tried (I hear a 0-12 season will do that), Coach Petersen has taken advantage of the prep players in his own backyard while creating a program that is reestablishing itself as a first choice for Washington high schoolers.

Consider that after watching him kill it for the last two years, it's easy to forget Budda Baker was on the verge of going to Oregon until Petersen and Jimmy Lake got to him two weeks before NSD 2014 - this only a month after Coach Pete was hired.

Furthermore, this retooling has not only emphasized local kids, but undervalued kids, two characteristics which often go hand-in-hand. Within a few days after signing day, Petersen snagged four preferred walk-ons, three of whom are in-state. All of them had offers from multiple FCS programs as well as a few FBS ones, and Washington beat out, for example, PWO offers from Alabama and Michigan among others.

With commitments already from an in-state 2017 RB (Connor Wedington, Sumner) and an in-state 2018 QB (Jacob Sirmon, Bothell), the trend doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Crimson and Gray

Wazzu on the other hand can't lean on a high-profile history - the perceived return to a rightful place - to sell recruits in the same way that UW can. This isn't a shot at the Cougs; if anything, it makes Mike Leach's recent success all the more impressive.

Although only four of their 25 signees in 2016 are from Washington, WSU quickly pounced on a number of in-state PWOs in this class, not unlike their west-of-the-Cascades sibling. The list so far includes Jacob Eason's favorite target, Riley Krenz of Lake Stevens. They follow that up with two linebackers in Erik Glueck from Bellarmine Prep, Dylan Axelson from Woodinville (Shout out class of '13 fly falcons fly!), and QB Bryce Missey to make-up for the lack of other quarterbacks in the 2016 class. Glueck and Krenz are decent sized given their roles, but both Axelson and Missey look like cases of being passed up because neither appears on paper to be the prototype for their position.

Coach Leach proved during 2015 that the Cougars thrive as a team built by undervalued players. I don't think it's absurd to say that, looking through the college offers (or lack thereof) given to guys on this roster, a 9-4 record is incongruous; Peyton Pelluer: four offers. River Cracraft: two offers. Gerard Wicks three, Hercules Mata'afa four, Gunnar Eklund a walk-on with no offers from a Division I school; Joe Dahl one, Dom Williams one, Destiny Vaeao one. The list goes on...

Oh yah, and that QB killing it over there now... what's his name? I hear he was a walk-on too.