Washington State Football Recruiting Nuggets: Early Defensive Position Analysis – Defensive Line


Sep 14, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UNLV Rebels quarterback Nick Sherry (3) calls the cadence at the line before the snap during the second quarter against the Washington State Cougars at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day will commence Feb. 6th, which means that there is still a lot of movement to look forward to over the next month plus on the recruiting trail. After looking at the Offensive positions last week, we’re going to rundown the defensive side of things this week in two parts.

The “front 7” as the D-line and LB’s are called as a group, had a better than expected campaign with young, blooming talent in 2012. But they weren’t without losses at the end of the year and neither were they without need for a deeper pool of talent to help out in 2013. Let’s start with the D-Line.

Defensive Line: Of course the most key loss to this group is the graduating Travis Long, an all-Pac-12 performer and probable late NFL draft pick in April. Steven Hoffart and Adam Coerper were big guys in the rotation as well and are both gone, so the Cougs are really looking into big guys to rotate, and more is better. WSU was already thin going into the season so there’s most certainly room for early contributions from this incoming group of DL’s.

It’s pretty evident that coach Leach and coach Salave’a have a plan in place to fill every position on the line. While they’re waiting for 2-3 other prospects to decide, they have found a couple players right now that could fill in the rotation. As always, Leach would rather redshirt as many players as he can but I’m just not sure the Cougars have the depth at any single position to do that, which is sad considering there are only 3 positions to have to fill.

  • Paulo Lepua is so far the most heralded prep DL in this group. He wasn’t going to commit till signing day but was so won over by the staff and even a couple of incoming recruits, that he made up his mind early. Lepua is the No. 41 rated D-End in this class and has good balance and power for the position at 6’3″ 265. He is also a candidate to grow into Travis Long’s position of BUCK LB, with a 20 lbs advantage in frame, but I’m thinking he’ll add about 15 lbs and become a very solid 3-4 DE. The options will likely be dependent on what commits they get from here out. If they don’t pick up another DE typical player, he is destined for that. This is an exciting find for the coaching staff because of the options he presents.
  • Emmitt Su’a-Kalio is a virtually unknown commodity in general, but his offer by WSU means one of two things. Either the staff is desperate to keep their pipeline from American Samoa open, or Emmitt has some real strength and untapped talent that will be seen down the line.
  • Gerald Sterling is a very athletic DT out of Alabama and really is an underrated talent. He has a decent amount of speed to play a DE or maybe even LB position if he lost 10-15 lbs, but his size and the guys WSU is bringing in suggests the Cougs will have Gerald grow into a 280-290 lbs player and use him as a power Nose Tackle in this 3-4 Mike Breske defense.
  • Malik Jenkins reminds me a lot of a really old school player back in the early 2000’s, Isaac Brown. Brown was an undersized DE at 215-225 but had incredible quickness and was one of my all time favorites because of his cockiness and non-stop motor at DE for Washington State. Jenkins is similarly sized, plays much the same way and should become a pass rushing weapon for years to come.