This past weekend, official football recruiting visits resumed at the University of Washington, with the Huskies hosting top 2021 recruit J.T. Tuimoloau from Eastside Catholic High and elite 2022 prospect Jayden Wayne from Lincoln of Tacoma, both edge rushers.
The overextended dead period, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, finally ended for college programs nationwide.
Re-instituted in Seattle were meetings between coaches and prospective recruits, facility tours, boat rides, elaborate dinners and photo shoots that provide profile images that will be used for months to come.
Throughout all of the sales pitch, the recruit has to settle on a final destination, whether it be the UW or somewhere else.
And, during the process, parents need to step up and help guide their sons through it, such as incoming Husky defensive back Zakhari Spears from Los Angeles' Loyola High School.
Bobby Spears Jr., made sure he was available to support his son and do some of the fact-finding.
“It was evident to us that programs mostly have the same initial pitch: it’s a great school, we will develop you and it will set you up for the rest of your life,” the older Spears explained. “We knew that was coming. Really it came down to research of what really was the best fit for Zakhari.”
While football was a major consideration, the Spears family made sure to check all the boxes involving college.
“It was important to know what city he would live in, what he would major in and if he would be set up for life after football,” Bobby Spears Jr., said.
The defensive back's father said they went in prepared for the part of recruitment that often is rehearsed. Bobby Spears Jr., had a litmus test.
“We looked out for people who were telling us what they thought we wanted to hear and avoided those conversations,” the elder Spears said, chuckling. “If you are telling me you know my son will come in and start day one, then you must not be developing the guys in your program."
Finally, Bobby Spears Jr. had a final question when a scholarship offer appeared from the UW.
“I’ll never forget the call when Jimmy Lake offered Zakhari a scholarship," he said. "After the celebration, I asked the coach why he decided to offer my son and he told me they recruit good football players they project to play in the NFL.
“He wasn’t blowing smoke about instant playing time, but he was confident they could develop Zakhari into an NFL player, and that is what we were looking for. Good programs tell the truth and the right people will gravitate to it.”