Thursday, August 17, 2006

Walkons Dwindle at UW

One of the key parts of any college football program is the recruitment of walkons to fill in your program to 105 bodies once you have given out the alloted 85 scholarships for the base of your squad. You are limited to 105 once pre season practice begins.

Washington currently has only approximately 90 kids in camp right now. After school begins, or after the first game you can have a maximum of 125 on the roster, and Washington won't even get close to that this year.

When Coach Willingham was asked to comment on this he said he prefers to work with quality, rather than quantity. UW does have some standout non scholarship players on the roster led by Alex Mercier, Mark Palaita, and Josh Gage. UW typically has had good luck with walkons with a few such as Madalvi, Faila, and Gottleib arriving on the scene to earn scholarships and starting jobs each year.

When Willingham and his staff arrived on the scene they were confronted with a bigger rebuilding job then any of them have imagined. Washington's total talent pool, and the conditioning of that talent had rapidly fallen to a historically low level. The lack of wins also has been a factor in recruiting top walkons to the program. Kid's typically want to get a chance to play, but most importantly they want the chance to be part of a winning program.

The recruiting of walkons has gotten a lot more competitive over the years in the Northwest because there are a lot of options for a kid who doesn't quite merit a Div One scholarship coming out of HS.

Both Western, and Central Washington offer a limited number of scholarships, and grants in aid. The Big Sky gets a lot of their talent out of this state each year, and the addition of Boise St, and Idaho in the WAC also siphons off a lot of top talent that used to consider walking on at UW. Schools like PLU, UPS, and the other NW Small Colleges offer immediate playing time, a less formal environment, and much smaller class sizes. The UW is also a much tougher place to get in then it used to be due to the competition of increasing amount of kids applying to get in each year.

Nebraska has always been famous for it's walkon program. A player like Paul Homer who I predict will letter four years at Washington was not offered by Nebraska last year. Kid's from Nebraska like Homer typically will walk on if not offered by the state school in hopes of competing for a scholarship once they get there. Homer was one of the rare one's that left when not offered.

One of the things that Willingham needs to do is make sure that he has a solid corp of 20 walkons that can compete for playing time, and provide depth for the program. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a couple more walk on OL that could help out this year? I am sure the low numbers this year are an effort by the current staff to concentrate on the best they have as they continue building the overall numbers back up to where they should be. No reason to spend time with kids that can't compete.

Just like building up the initial corp of 85 scholarships, rebuilding the walkon program at UW won't happen overnight. Solid relationships with coaches around the Northwest, and in California can help find those special walk on nuggets each year, and Ty has done an excellent job since he has been here mending fences in state.

While most people will be focussed on the scholarship class of 25 that the staff will bring in this Winter, I am also going to be paying very close attention to the 5-10 invited walkons that they will persue. While not as heralded as the scholarship athletes coming in these kids are very important to the overall depth, and competion within the program.

Ty is very fond of using the term "perfect practice".....having enough guys to practice against is a step in the right direction as far as "perfect practice" is concerned.


prrbrr said...

Johnb, IIRC, didn't Coach Baird do an article on something called the participation rate affecting the walk on program. Not sure if it was a Barbara-ism or NCAA mandated, but I think it counted gender participation and walkons counted for that number. Of course somebody also pointed out you just start a flag drill team to equalize that if it were the case. Do you think the Husky Hunters will ever come back, or is thata dead issue?

Health Insurance Expert said...

The rule is you can have 85 on scholarship and an additional 20 who can participate in Fall camp.

After the first game you can have an additional 20 more walkons which brings you up to a maximum of 125.

Right now we have around 90 total including walkons. We have room for 35 more players give or take a few. So we don't need to start a flag drill team just yet.

We are also short a graduate assistant coach this year due to the Neu problems.