Washington doesn't have many 2021 signees left, but neither does the Pac-12
More than half of the conference's 2021 signees are no longer with their original school.
It wasn’t that difficult to see this coming.
The 2021 recruiting class was unlike any in college football history — especially on the West Coast — because the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted prospects’ senior seasons, prevented coaches from traveling for in-person evaluations and prevented recruits from visiting campuses. Many prospects made decisions based on Zoom tours and phone calls. Coaches extended some scholarship offers based on home footage of agility drills, and had to rely on word-of-mouth for heights and weights.
“I remember talking with coaches, and they would say, ‘oh, he says he’s 6-foot-7,’” said Brandon Huffman, national recruiting editor for 247Sports. “I would say, ‘well, I’ve seen the kid, and he’s not 6-foot-7, unless he grew 3 ½ inches during COVID.’”
Inevitably, some recruits wound up choosing schools for the wrong reasons, and programs wound up taking some prospects they might not have otherwise. Coaching changes have impacted the 2021 class at eight Pac-12 schools, and the NCAA approved the one-time transfer exception mere months prior to 2021 prospects enrolling for their freshman seasons.
“A lot of these guys were committing basically sight unseen,” Huffman said, “then they get there and they realize, ‘I hate this place.’”
These factors — and untold others, such as coaches increasingly clearing space for portal additions — might explain why more than half of the Pac-12’s 2021 signees have either transferred or otherwise left the school they signed with after just two college seasons.
According to a study of the 247Sports database, 218 scholarship players signed with Pac-12 schools during the 2021 cycle. So far, I count 115 of those players (or 52.8 percent) who no longer appear on their original school’s roster. (The vast majority of those left via the transfer portal, though a small number either quit football, medically retired or may still be finishing a church mission.)
This exodus of 2021 signees is not necessarily unique to the Pac-12, and similar numbers can likely be found wherever a coaching change is involved. SEC schools like Missouri, Florida, Auburn and Mississippi State, for example, also have lost more than half of their 2021 signees. But it is noteworthy that for all Washington has lost from its own 2021 class — nine of 17 players, or 52.9 percent — its attrition is nearly exactly average within the conference.
To put the attrition in context within Washington’s roster: counting walk-ons who earned scholarships, the Huskies have more sixth-year seniors remaining from their 2018 recruiting class (nine) as they do players from the 2021 class (eight), though the 2018 class was slightly larger.
As always, remember: transfer decisions are not always voluntary, and coaches surely initiated a good chunk of the attrition we’re highlighting. That doesn’t make it any less relevant — the more players pushed out the door from the same class, the poorer the job that program did of evaluating and/or developing those prospects — but is something to keep in mind, especially in light of pandemic-related factors.
Some other high-level takeaways: