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Unofficial visits vital for Washington

8/18/2012

SEATTLE -- For Washington's coaching staff, a pivotal part of the recruiting plan is getting kids on campus.

The Huskies are selling something that requires personal attention, a connection that is formed through face-to-face meetings.

Talk to head coach Steve Sarkisian, recruiting ace Tosh Lupoi and recruiting coordinator Johnny Nansen and they will all say the same thing.

When Washington gets recruits on campus, the Huskies like their chances of landing a verbal commitment. In order to make those connections, the unofficial visit is vital.

“If we get the parents and the recruit here, we have a really good shot at winning the kid,” Nansen said.

Get a kid on campus for an unofficial visit and it eases the rest of the recruiting process. It is easier to talk to a recruit on the phone if there is a pre-existing personal connection. It is easier to make an in-home visit if you have already made a positive impression. It is easier to land a verbal commitment if the athlete is comfortable with the coaches, the community and the university.

“I think that’s where we have the upper hand,” Nansen said. “We have a great head coach that understands how important recruiting is and, after people come here and see that, they leave and they’re very impressed with what they see.”

As much as recruiting has changed over the years through social media and earlier offers, the key to success remains the same. Recruiting is all about relationships.

“In recruiting these days, there are so many other things that are involved, but it’s still back to the relationships with the parents, with the coaches and, obviously, with the kids,” Nansen said. “That’s why we’re winning some of those battles right now. Kids like our coaching staff, they love the university and, when they get up here, Seattle is a beautiful place. We’ve got a lot to offer.”

When Dane Crane and Connor O’Brien -- teammates at Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita -- visited Seattle, both said they felt like they were home. They committed quickly.

When Auburn linebacker commit Reuben Foster (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) made the trip to Seattle, he raved about his visit. While Washington didn’t land a commitment, the nation’s No. 2-rated prospect publicly praised the program.

Even though Bellevue (Wash.) Bellevue linebacker Myles Jack has given a verbal commitment to UCLA, he has made several trips to watch Washington practice with teammates Sean Constantine -- a Washington verbal commit -- and Bishard Baker -- a talented 2014 prospect at safety.

When recruits show up in Seattle for a Washington practice on a sunny day, they see a new Husky Stadium being built in the background and they get a glimpse of Lake Washington.

Whether it’s Crane, O’Brien or 2014 receiver commit Rahshead Johnson (Long Beach, Calif./Jordan), their experiences during unofficial visits played a part in their commitments.

Tucked away in the Pacific Northwest, getting players on campus for unofficial visits will continue be a cornerstone of the Huskies' recruiting success.