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Wayne Narrows His Choices to 6 Schools, Eliminates UW Early

Tacoma edge rusher becomes the third consecutive 5-star player to pass on the Huskies.

Jayden Wayne, like others before him, apparently is not interested in rebuilding, appreciates the bright lights and will move on in his college football recruitment without the University of Washington — becoming the third consecutive local 5-star recruit to pass on the Huskies. 

On Friday, the elite edge rusher from Lincoln High School in Tacoma on social media unveiled his final six choices: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan State and Oregon.

Conspicuously absent again was the UW. 

The Huskies' Loyal to the Soil campaign under new coach Kalen DeBoer never reached a full boil with the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Wayne, who similar to Eastside Catholic edge rusher J.T. Tuimoloau (Ohio State) and Rainier Beach offensive tackle Josh Conerly (Oregon) will play elsewhere on the college level.

While it offers a virtually unmatched game-day setting and a rich history of success that includes a national championship and steady NFL draft picks, the UW clearly is not top tier as a college football destination these days in the eyes of the locally produced prodigies. 

Never before have so many elite homegrown players turned their back on the Huskies in such rapid-fire succession.

This is happening for multiple reasons. Social media and the urge to take unofficial visits everywhere have made it easier for teenaged recruits to be exposed to faraway destinations and less concerned about leaving home. 

The SEC, while quibbling about who cheats and who doesn't in-house, is a dominant force, having won 12 of the past 16 national championships, so the rich will get richer. 

And Oregon has become the NCAA Disneyland, where everyone has to spend a weekend there, if not a football career, trying on shoes and jerseys and lifting in a designer weight room.

Wayne no doubt will be vilified for his decision to exclude the UW from his final selection pool, same as Lake Stevens running back Jayden Limar, who this week announced he will play for Notre Dame after eliminating the Huskies early and he bemoaned the backlash.

Husky fans will be left only with the promotional photos of Wayne in a  Husky uniform to envision what might have been.

What needs to happen to ever rectify the situation is this: new UW coach Kalen DeBoer first will have to win big initially with players with lesser reputations if he is to ultimately secure the services of 5-star players anywhere, let alone in the Seattle-Tacoma market. It's a tall order.

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Kalen DeBoer, meet Jayden Wayne.

Kalen DeBoer and Jayden Wayne met this spring. 

A lot of damage was done with a 4-8 season and two coaching changes in three years. 

Yet the Huskies forever have reached for the highest rungs of college football and only got so far.

Even when Chris Petersen was coach, the Huskies made it to the College Football Playoff but couldn't hang with Alabama, and later advanced to the Rose and Fiesta bowls and were beaten badly by Ohio State and Penn State, though the final scores didn't indicate that. 

Jayden Wayne met with Jimmy Lake this week.

Jayden Wayne met with Jimmy Lake last year.

The thing is, Wayne seems to be a good kid, both physically gifted and thoughtful in approach, who will be scorned by local fans who are emotionally invested in the UW.

Yet it's a new era of college football, steeply tilted to the South, as well as south to Eugene and Los Angeles. That's where all the glitz is, all of the college football buzz these days, maybe significantly greater name, image and licensing riches. 

Why wouldn't someone such as Jayden Wayne want that?

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