Washington State had a great weekend on the football field, taking care of Utah 49-37 to become bowl eligible for the first time in seven years, but it got even better on Sunday.
Darren Gardenhire, a 6’1, 200 pound safety from Long Beach Cabrillo (CA) was already leaning Wazzu before his official visit. When the weekend was over he had fallen for the place, citing that he just felt it was the right fit for him and that he is excited to play in the Pac-12.
Gardenhire is ranked the 93rd best safety in the country via Scout, but the Cougars are wanting him to come in and compete at corner. They love his physical play (loves to hit), but his coverage skills have improved tremendously as well and the Cougars are looking for big, tall corners to compete with the huge receivers in the conference.
As Pac-12 analyst Yogi Roth would say, his size is already “graduate level” for his position, though he could stack a few lbs on the frame. It’s really going to come down to how well he transitions in hip movement and pad level, not to mention anticipation out on the edge. At safety you have some wiggle room for such things, but with the Cougs wanting to play more man-press, he’ll have to get used to that and dealing with the physical nature of the receivers before he’ll be any good for the Cougs out there.
Gardenhire was a verbal commit to San Jose State until early last week when he decommitted as the visit to WSU was coming. He said Sunday that he is now solid to Washington State and shutting down the rest of his visit opportunities.
We’ll take a look at how the defensive backfield is beginning to stack up later this morning, so check back for more on where Gardenhire helps stack WSU against other talented corners in the conference. Junior highlights below.