Recruiting Q&A: Oregon-Washington

The signing of five-star safety Shaq Thompson in February represented a big step for Washington as it tries to gain equal footing with Oregon in the Pacific Northwest. Stacy Revere/Getty Images

One of the more underappreciated and heated rivalries in the country lies in the Pacific Northwest. For decades it was all Washington. Since 1994 the Ducks are 13-4, including eight straight wins in the series.

Things are starting to turn around in Seattle, as their new staff has them on the right track on the field and more specifically, recruiting.

Anyone up for a little border war Q & A?

Mason Kelley -- HuskyNation and Brandon Oliver -- DuckNation

How has recruiting changed since Steve Sarkisian and Chip Kelly took over their programs?

Kelley: When Steve Sarkisian was hired as Washington’s head coach in 2008, he went to work trying to land the top talent in Washington, while building the Huskies’ brand with recruits in California.

Sarkisian took a page out of legendary Washington coach Don James’ playbook and set out to make his mark in California.

Sarkisian has signed most of the top recruits in Washington while making an impact in California. The Huskies are on recruits' radars, but they need wins to take the next step.

Oliver: Kelly has turned the Ducks into a juggernaut on and off the field. The Ducks are unique on the field and in recruiting. They can't rely on more than a couple in-state guys each year so they look near and far to find the right players for their system.

Oregon has become arguably the trendiest program in college football. It is not USC and it is not Alabama but it has every kid's attention.

Oregon is very selective, as it wants a certain type of player. The Ducks recruit athletes first and decide where they'll play later. The way the Ducks recruit isn't for everyone but it has worked so far, as the roster is loaded with talented underclassmen.

The approach they have taken under Kelly has paid dividends on signing day and more importantly, on the field.

What other changes have helped the UW staff on the field and in recruiting?

Kelley: Tosh Lupoi made his mark right away, helping to reel in safety Shaq Thompson before signing day. Known as a dynamic recruiter, Lupoi has lived up to his reputation so far.

With all of the attention Lupoi has received, Justin Wilcox’s recruiting reputation has flown under the radar. Wilcox has done a good job building relationships with local coaches and his addition to the coaching staff has helped the Huskies' overall recruiting effort.

Specifically, Lupoi has helped defensive lineman Danny Shelton take the next step as a sophomore, while Wilcox’s aggressive system has Washington’s defense pointed in the right direction.

Oliver: Wide receivers coach Scott Frost and defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro are the only additions to the staff since 2007. The longevity of the Oregon staff is its biggest selling point. If the coaches buy into the program, the team and recruits will follow suit.

Oregon's staff has the longest average tenure at one school and it has paid off. Recruits and their parents see that and know what they are going to get once they get on campus.

How does having the best players play, no matter their age, help in recruiting?

Kelley: Seeing freshmen like Thompson, Jaydon Mickens and Kendyl Taylor take the field for Washington’s season opener against San Diego State sends a sign to recruits that, if a player is good enough, they will see the field early.

That is huge in recruiting. Top prospects look at depth charts. They know where they stand and how soon they will see the field.

Like any successful program, Washington wants to redshirt as many freshmen as possible, but the coaching staff wants to put the top 11 players on the field, regardless of age. Recruits see that. It makes an big impact.

Oliver: It's huge. It is one of the common themes among the elite programs in the country. Look at programs such as Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, USC and Florida, among others. They have freshman and sophomores all over the field because they come in ready to play and jump in head first once they get on campus. Oregon is following that trend and it is paying off big time.

Oregon's practices are all about learning the system and competing amongst each other. The best players play and that helps build depth and talent. Recruits see guys like De'Anthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota and know they have a shot to play early if they earn it in practice.

The Ducks played 17 freshman in their season opener and play a heavy rotation of players, especially on defense. Recruits know there is an opportunity to play and coaches can't emphasize that enough on the recruiting trail.