In the days following his decision to decommit from Oregon as a result of coach Mark Helfrich’s dismissal, four-star quarterback Colson Yankoff thought he had a sense of some possible landing spots.
Not among them: Washington.
“Washington was always one of my favorite schools, but it never really seemed like much of an option because they already had a commitment from a kid in my class,” Yankoff said.
Not just any kid, either. Jacob Sirmon, ESPN.com’s No. 2-ranked pocket-passer and No. 30 player in the ESPN 300, was -- and remains -- one of the most sought after prospects in the Class of 2018. He committed to Washington, where his father is a business professor, after his sophomore season. Once he did so, there was a widely held assumption the Huskies wouldn’t be interested in taking another quarterback in his class.
Despite that, the Huskies got in touch with Yankoff -- the country’s No. 89 player overall -- and let him know they were interested. Yankoff, who is from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, said there wasn’t much discussion about the program already holding a commitment from another quarterback. The way he saw it, he was going to have to compete with other quarterbacks for playing time regardless of where he went. If there was another one in his class, so be it.
“I told them I wasn’t really worried about having another quarterback in the class,” he said. “They said, ‘Awesome, we want you to play for us.’ And that was all I needed to hear.”
History has shown the initial assumption -- that the Huskies would take just one quarterback -- was a fair one to make. Although there have been a number of occurrences where two quarterbacks have signed as part of the same class, it’s still considered somewhat rare -- especially when highly ranked players are involved.
Holding commitments from two quarterbacks as highly ranked as Sirmon and Yankoff puts the Huskies in unique company. The last time a program signed two quarterbacks that ESPN ranked among the top 100 overall players in the country was in 2007, when Florida signed John Brantley, the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2006, and dual-threat star Cam Newton. Newton, of course, later transferred to Auburn, where he led the Tigers to a national championship, won the Heisman Trophy, and was drafted No. 1 overall in a one-year span. He would go on to lead the Carolina Panthers to an appearance in Super Bowl 50.
In the past five years, USC is the only school to sign a pair of top-10 ranked pocket-passers in the same class, and the Trojans couldn’t be happier with how that has worked out. In the 2015 recruiting cycle, the Trojans already had a commitment from Ricky Town, who finished as the No. 10-ranked pocket-passer, when they added a second: Sam Darnold. Darnold was a late-developing prospect, but because of what he turned into, the USC staff determined he was worth it. While Town enrolled early, Darnold did not. Still, just days after Darnold arrived and started working out with the team -- the writing, perhaps, already on the wall -- Town opted to transfer.
It’s a curmudgeonly way to preview Sirmon's and Yankoff’s college careers -- especially before they’ve even begun their senior years of high school -- but in their situation it’s also only natural to ponder the T word. Players of their caliber expect to play, and if the opportunity doesn’t present itself, transferring is the usual, and logical, solution.
If Jake Browning, the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2016, returns for his senior year in 2018, the Huskies could have six scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. However, there’s always a strong possibility that one or more quarterbacks will transfer between now and then. Daniel Bridge-Gadd, who redshirted as a true freshman in 2016, was honored as the team’s scout team MVP, and the program also signed Jake Haener, a three-star quarterback from Monte Vista High in Danville, California, in its most recent class.
The future scenario clearly has the potential to create a strange dynamic between Yankoff and Sirmon, and at first, Yankoff admits it might have. Both players were invited to the Elite 11 finals in Redondo Beach, California, in May, and -- having never met in person before -- were assigned to be roommates.
“I’m not going to lie, it was a little awkward at first because we hadn’t met and all that, but it was fine,” said Yankoff, who didn’t participate in the camp due to a torn meniscus. “It was totally good. He seems like a cool kid and a good dude.”
Sirmon also came away feeling good about their relationship.
“Colson is awesome, great competitor,” Sirmon said on the final day of the camp. “Great guy. Looking forward to becoming great friends with him and the guys at the University of Washington.”
Unlike Yankoff, though, Sirmon didn’t commit knowing there would be another quarterback in his class. He knows now. Things could change, but there hasn’t been anything to indicate he would consider altering his plans to attend his hometown dream school.
“With a shortage of players they needed another guy and they let me know,” Sirmon said. “Whatever is best for the University of Washington, I am for.”