Josh Conerly chose football Disneyland.
After prolonging his football recruitment two months beyond everyone else, the 6-foot-5, 275-pound offensive tackle from Seattle’s Rainier Beach High School — widely considered the nation’s best at his position — pledged himself to the Oregon Ducks in a big production held at his school and live-streamed everywhere else.
For the Washington football follower, the outcome wasn’t unexpected but it felt like a gut punch just the same. Conerly hadn’t shown any inclination on social media that his hometown school interested him. Yet he ended up with the hated rival.
The Huskies are still trying to put themselves back together with new coach Kalen DeBoer in charge following a disturbing 4-8 season that included a 26-16 loss to the Ducks. The fallout from that downturn has been costly.
Conerly is the second top-rated player from the state to go elsewhere, joining Eastside Catholic High edge rusher J.T. Tuiamoloau, who now plays for Ohio State.
These elite players simply felt no interest in rebuilding the UW into a more powerful entity. No desire to make the hometown proud. No inclination to be “Loyal to the Soil.”
Losing Conerly is one thing, but losing him to Oregon is quite another.
The UW seemingly is forever going to pay for beating the Ducks like a drum throughout the Don James era, if not treating them like an annoying little brother.
Oregon has got revenge 20-fold and it’s apparently still not done.
Consider that over the past several months the Ducks were able to flip UW commits Sir Mells and Anthony Jones from Las Vegas and Ben Roberts from Salt Lake City to signing with them.
Oregon was the opponent on that fateful November day when UW coach Jimmy Lake lost his cool, shoved one of his players and was fired, this after disparaging his rival earlier in the week by insinuating the school was academically inferior.
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Starting Husky defensive tackle Taki Taimani, one of those responsible for giving up 329 rushing yards to Oregon, decided if you can’t beat them, join them, and he transferred out and signed on with the Ducks.
UW receivers coach Junior Adams, having agreed to stay on and be part of the new Kalen DeBoer staff, got a better offer from the Ducks and abruptly moved south.
Puyallup High offensive lineman Dave Iuli not only chose Oregon over the Huskies, but he belittled the UW in a recruiting story that he later tried to retract.
Bob Gregory, the former UW interim coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from last season, landed in Eugene, as well.
On top of all that, the Ducks continue to beat the UW like a drum after a couple of decades of absolute James domination.
Oregon has won 22 of 28 meetings since Kenny Wheaton’s last-minute, 97-yard interception for a touchdown turned the rivalry firmly in the Ducks’ favor nearly 30 years ago.
Even former UW coach Chris Petersen couldn’t reverse this trend for more than a couple of seasons.
Payback, now topped by the Conerly commitment, is a witch, or something like that.
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