Big UW wins pay big recruiting dividends

SEATTLE -- As the scrum started to spread after fans stormed the field following Washington’s 17-13 win over Stanford. As fans finally began working their way toward the CenturyLink Field exits. As the players started to make their way to the locker room, Tosh Lupoi found the three teammates from Bellevue (Wash.).

On the sideline, not far from the section where recruits sit during games, Lupoi bounced up and down, circling Huskies commit Sean Constantine, UCLA commit Myles Jack and 2014 prospect Bishard “Budda” Baker.

As he spun around the teammates, Lupoi said “What are you waiting for?” It was directed at Jack, who continues to be a top target for the Huskies, despite his commitment to UCLA. The addition of Jack would improve an already-strong recruiting class that is ranked No. 19 in the country.

Just like that, with one win, Washington had something to sell. The coaching staff instantly had an improved pitch that pointed toward future success, a program heading in the right direction after a win over a top 10 team.

That victory made an impact on Jack. It provided further proof for Constantine that he made the right decision to commit to Washington. It was a win that resonated with the other recruits on both official and unofficial visits.

“That was crazy,” Jack said the day after the game. “Just running in the middle of the field and being a part of that, getting to witness an upset like that, that was big. That was cool.”

A few weeks later, with the Huskies mushing through a three-game losing streak, Jack and Constantine were back in the stands to watch Washington beat Oregon State, 20-17.

For the second time in three home games, fans stormed the field after a win over a team in the top 10. This time, though, Jack and Constantine stood in stands and watched the mayhem from a distance.

“I wanted to, I don’t know, digest what was going on,” Jack said.

Of the Huskies’ five wins in 2012, two have come against top 10 teams. Talk to recruits about the progress of the program, and those two games are the only ones that matter.

Forget losses. Forget inconsistency. Two wins over prominent programs is enough proof to keep recruits convinced Washington is on track to becoming once of the elite programs in the Pac-12.

“It’s exciting to see a great program with a great tradition competing with the best teams in the country,” 2014 tight end Chase Blakley (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho/Coeur d’Alene) said. “The hard work of the coaches and players is paying off.”

The wins have also caught the attention of offensive lineman Brayden Kearsley (Aloha, Ore./Aloha), among others.

“The last two recruiting classes that they’ve gotten have been unreal, and they’ve got some really talented players,” Kearsley said. “They’re young and beating great teams, so that obviously means they’re going to be on the rise and they’re going to be a top team here in a little bit.”

Washington can run the table, finish the season with 9-4 a record -- if the Huskies win a bowl game -- and continue to back up the message they are sending to recruits. However, no matter how the season ends, a pair of wins against top 10 teams has been enough to generate the kind of attention among prospects they need to make a strong final push before signing day.

Lupoi’s message to Jack from the Stanford game in September remains the same today: “What are you waiting for?”