Mike Leach and Washington State are off to the most productive recruiting start in Cougar history, CougFan put it into quick perspective in this article yesterday. As you can see, the previous high (2011) at this point in the season was 4 commitments to Wazzu, with a healthy 5 this season. There’s no doubt that’s good news no matter which way you cut it, but there’s a couple of extra responsibilities that come along with making the waves that Wazzu is making early in the 2013 recruiting cycle.
First thing is having to hold off oncoming schools as they push pretty hard to get those kids, especially the kids that aren’t rated yet but are sure to be 3-star or above once they’re evaluated. There’s also the kids that are bumped up that receive late attention from premier schools too. A prime example of this is Montrel Meander in the 2012 cycle (for the class of 2013), who got the offer and committed to Washington State, but then was evaluated at 4 stars pretty late in the cycle. He then faced an onslaught of attention and couldn’t help himself from switching allegiances to Texas.
Vince Mayle and Ivan McLennan of last season’s class are prime examples as well. Mayle was pushed on late by Ohio State and LSU, while McLennan was sought out by Miami (FL) late in the process. Of course, both those big names kept with their commitment to the Cougars, but may have been able to be swayed had their stock risen earlier on in the process.
It’s a delicate balance to be able to hold your commits, while also putting a majority of your resources into the rest of your class at this point in the season. Peyton Bender and Keith Harrington have yet to be rated by Scout, which means when they are more schools will take notice of their skill set and come charging. Heck, Bender already has a new offer from Penn State and since Leach likes him so much, more schools are bound to pay special attention to him.
Leach and the staff have to continue to give these kids all the attention in the world so that they feel like they’re still growing the bond. Coach Sark over at UW lost an early commit (if I remember correctly a 3-star receiver) last season because after he committed, Sark and staff just totally dropped contact with him throughout the process. The kid and his parents grew more and more concerned that they had lost attention (at all) and decided it was in their best interest to move a different direction. In fairness, it seems the Huskies backed off of their liking of the kid for one reason or other and sneakily never told him, but that’s for another story. The point is that kids need that attention, constantly, or they’ll head in a different direction.
This is a good problem to have, but it is a problem nonetheless. I do have complete faith that the Cougar coaching staff is capable of holding these kids, although Bender will get promise for more playing time elsewhere and in my opinion is easily the most sway-able candidate at this point. Leach has all the experience in the world and is a good closer, as well as opener, so it’s hard to get too worried about flips, but as we saw last season they do happen quite a bit. At any rate it’s fun to have so much going on in the world of recruiting this early in the process for the first time ever. Hopefully WSU explodes with the commits it wants in the coming months and we’re able to hold on to all of them until they sign next Spring!